QTU withdraws support for new IPS nominations

The department and government’s failure to recognise teachers as key stakeholders in last year’s Independent Public Schools (IPS) decisions, has forced the QTU’s Conference and Council into withdrawing support for the program.

Consequently, the QTU does not support the nomination of further schools for the IPS program. There are a number of reasons for this decision.

1. The government’s failure to respect the input of teachers

Last year, while the vast majority of schools that went into the IPS program did so after a fully consultative process, a number of schools were selected for IPS even though the majority of QTU members at those schools voted against the program. This was despite the Minister’s insistence that he would not support a school becoming IPS if the staff did not support the nomination. The Director-General contradicted this when he justified the selection of these schools by saying that although school staff were one stakeholder in the process, they were weighted no differently from the community and students. The QTU believes that the school’s staff are the most significant stakeholder group and that their views should prevail when determining whether a school should become an IPS.

2. Threats to the school-based management guarantees from changes to the Industrial Relations Act

The most recent changes to the act may place the guarantees at risk. In the absence of these guarantees, and their ongoing protection to schools around issues such as single-line budgets, the teacher transfer process and relocations, the QTU believes that schools should not nominate for IPS.

3. The erosion of the teacher transfer and relocations process

Since the introduction of IPS, it has become apparent that it is now more difficult for members to receive transfers/relocations to schools in their preferred location. This is due to the direct recruitment undertaken by IPS.

4. Impact on regional resources

During the 2013 selection process, DETE changed the parameters for nomination by introducing criteria in relation to “high performing schools” without consultation. As a result of DETE’s action, schools and students that would directly benefit from student support services have been disadvantaged. The QTU understands that the government is using IPS to push regional resources into schools. In time, as this policy applies more widely, it will have a detrimental impact on high needs schools. There is real potential for a two tier system which will further disadvantage those schools which most need additional funding.

What does this mean for members in IPS?

The withdrawal of support for further schools nominating to become part of the IPS program will not impact on members currently in existing IPS schools. The QTU will continue to support all members and to advocate to protect the working conditions of members in all settings.

What do we do if our school considers becoming an IPS?

The QTU is advising members to participate in the consultation process and conduct a ballot regarding their school’s nomination. For the reasons identified above, the Union encourages members to vote against nominating for IPS. For further information regarding the consultation process for IPS, see the kit on the QTU website.

Given the program’s lack of demonstrated benefits and the government’s failure to demonstrate that it values the profession by maintaining its commitments to members, the QTU cannot support the nomination of further schools for the IPS program. Should DETE and the government give a commitment that the views of QTU members will prevail when determining which schools should become IPS, then the QTU may review this position. It is also important that before supporting any further devolution to schools, the QTU requires commitments from the government regarding school-based management guarantees and their continuation in the face of the current award modernisation process and in future rounds of enterprise bargaining.

More information about school autonomy can be found on the QTU website, while books and journal articles on school autonomy and its various guises are available through the QTU Library, www.qtu.asn.au/library

Paige Bousen
Assistant Secretary – Education Leaders

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 119 No 4, 23 May 2014, p13