Schools can reschedule staff development days for the last two days of term 4 over four afternoon sessions during the year.
This rescheduling means teachers are not required to attend the last two days of school and provides teachers with greater flexibility in regards to the timing and content of their professional learning.
The procedures are clear that only term 4 staff development days can be rescheduled and that any proposal to reschedule must be done so with the clear agreement of the majority of teachers within the school.
This agreement should occur every year or any time a school proposes to reschedule, and schools must follow the procedures as outlined in School Development Days: Procedures (2013). This includes consulting casual, temporary, part time and absent staff, plus making teachers aware that any absence at an agreed rescheduled professional learning session may need to be made up on the last two days of term 4.
Even with the agreement of the majority of staff, no teacher can be forced to attend a rescheduled staff development day. Teachers still have the option to attend as per usual and it is up to the principal to make arrangements for the staff member/s to participate in appropriate professional development on the last two days of term 4 at their school, or an alternative school if necessary.
This is important as many teachers have pre-existing commitments such as childcare arrangements that cannot be changed.
Federation believes that this option for greater flexibility for professional learning should be good for schools and teachers. For example, this year a number of schools have already rescheduled the last day or two days into two or four afternoon sessions, usually one each term, most doing so in a pre-existing school meeting time. This minimises the length of time required for teachers to attend meetings and frees up the last two days of the school year for a well-earned holiday.
Other schools are using the procedures to convert existing professional learning opportunities provided by the school or region into a rescheduled staff development day afternoon. Federation believes that if the professional development being offered is deemed meaningful enough to encourage teachers to attend, then there should be no difficulty getting it endorsed as part of a rescheduled term 4 development day.
The procedures are also clear that the content of school development days needs to be determined in consultation with staff and the school community. This is outlined in the policy and enables teachers and Federation Workplace Committees to have a say in the content and relevance of the professional learning provided and to make sure that enough time is allocated for any mandatory training.
The Department’s Professional Learning Policy for Schools document is also clear about the consultation requirements and that each school should have a professional learning team or committee.
Although next year may seem a long way away, the new procedures may be particularly relevant in 2016 as the last two staff development days fall on a Monday and Tuesday. Federation encourages any school considering a reschedule proposal that the discussion and vote for agreement should begin as soon as possible.
Copies of the procedures should also be provided to all staff before a decision is made and, as always, the school’s Federation Workplace Committee is encouraged to be involved, and your local Federation Organiser can assist where necessary.