Union campaigns for equity in release time for all executive teachers

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Release time for primary executives should be protected by an industrial agreement

Federation’s campaign to achieve executive release time for all promoted teachers in primary schools may be thwarted by a proposal to "flexibly" allocate the resourcing needed to provide it.

Federation’s position (see box, below) is outlined in a letter sent to all school members, requesting emails to be sent to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and Department Secretary Michele Bruniges.

Legal advice

Federation has sought legal advice on the effect of the proposed implementation of the additional release time. This advice from NEW Law principal solicitor Neale Dawson (June 10, 2015) confirms the disadvantage for primary school executives:

“If implemented, the proposal will create two classes of executive staff — Deputy Principals and Head Teachers in secondary schools (and colleges and secondary sections of Central Schools) who have release time as a legally enforceable right as per the Award, and a lesser class of employees, being Teaching Principals, Deputy Principals and Assistant Principals in primary schools (and SSPs and primary sections of Central Schools), who have no legal rights to increased release time, but who would have to rely on governments agreeing to fund the additional release time into the future.

“In contrast to the provision of executive release time in secondary schools, (and the like), the proposed method of implementation gives executive staff in primary settings no guarantees of additional release time and absolutely no enforceable rights at law.”

Permanent employment opportunities

In his media release announcing the Quality Teaching, Successful Students policy, Premier Mike Baird stated that it would lead to the employment of an additional 1000 primary school teachers. This further highlights the importance of implementing this policy on the same terms as secondary schools. Securing the provision of additional, recurrent staffing for executive release time in primary schools in a legally binding industrial agreement would mean these additional teachers can be employed on a permanent rather than a temporary basis.

Further action

Federation Workplace Committees have been requested to hold a meeting to discuss this matter and endorse a motion of support for the campaign. Federation leaflets have been produced to communicate the inequity and unfairness of the proposed method of implementing the Quality Teaching, Successful Students policy.

Federation’s Annual Conference on June 28–30 will consider developments on this matter and if necessary, determine further action.

Federation's position

The NSW Government’s recently announced Quality Teaching, Successful Students policy is a missed opportunity to settle a long-running campaign for executive release time in primary schools. While the policy pledges an additional $224 million over four years for additional release time for primary schools, there is no requirement that it be used to provide release for primary executives.

This highlights the disparity with secondary executive release time, which is a staffing entitlement, attached to every position, and of critical importance, protected by a legally binding industrial agreement. In contrast, the additional primary release time that has been announced is not allocated to any specific position and has no legal protection whatsoever. Instead, it is proposed that the release time be allocated ‘flexibly’.

Our concern is that this primary release time is provided only by way of policy and will only remain while there is continued funding. Any future government can either change the policy or reduce the funding.