New framework action must wait until teachers trained

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

The policy provides a strong base for quality teaching.

The new Performance and Development Framework for all teachers covered by the schools award is to be implemented in semester 1.

The first step in implementation is for principals and Federation Representatives to participate in training workshops delivered by Federation Organisers and Directors, Public Schools. It is intended that the training package will be finalised by the end of the month for use in the workshops commencing in March.

Teachers should not undertake any of the new processes until principals and Federation Representatives have completed the training workshops and subsequently delivered the training to all teachers in their workplace.

Federation is optimistic that this policy, jointly developed with the Department, will provide a strong foundation for ensuring quality teaching and learning across the public school system.

The statement that captures the essence of the new approach, “All teachers have a right to be supported in their professional learning, as well as a responsibility to be involved in performance and development processes that facilitate their professional growth and the provision of quality teaching and learning,” appears on the first page and is repeated on the last page of the policy.

The framework acknowledges the crucial importance of creating and sustaining “a positive and collaborative performance and development culture” and encompasses “the various activities teachers, executives and principals are already undertaking in the normal course of their work rather than create separate and additional processes”.

Checklists, proformas and unnecessary paperwork are therefore to be avoided on the premise that the actual process is what matters most, rather than the documentation of it.

One of the most important features is the requirement for every teacher, executive and principal to have a Performance and Development Plan, a self-assessment and an annual review. These facilitate the engagement of every teacher in the process from the outset and should assist in overcoming the deficiencies of past practice.

Federation and the Department are developing processes that address the needs of casual and temporary teachers, specialist teachers such as school counsellors, and those in non-school based teaching service positions. While BOSTES accreditation requirements and the standards-based salary scale to be implemented in 2016 necessitate this work, there are clear benefits for these teachers and their workplaces through their access to professional learning and a positive performance and development process.

It should be noted that teacher efficiency processes are related but separate. While concerns about performance may emerge from, and be initially addressed through the Framework, the process must switch to a formal Improvement Program if performance concerns are not resolved.

It will be important to recognise where each teacher is at in their career when implementing the Framework. While the Framework applies to everyone, supervisors would be prudent to acknowledge that colleagues may be at different stages of their careers and adapt the process accordingly. Very experienced teachers close to retirement, for example, may engage in this process differently from colleagues who are in their first few years of teaching or those who are striving for promotion to an executive or principal position.

Despite the misinterpretations and bias of some political and media critics over the years, Federation has the utmost commitment to ensuring quality teaching and learning for all students.

The new Performance and Development Framework embodies this commitment. It has been endorsed by our union in the belief that our students, our schools, our entire public education system, have much to gain from the teaching profession’s positive participation in it.