“These negotiations have not resulted in an agreement” … director-general of education Michele Bruniges.
A NEW staffing arrangement for teachers was imposed on the profession yesterday, giving the state government discretion to control teacher numbers and class sizes.
The Department of Education gave the NSW Teachers Federation an ultimatum to sign a new staffing agreement by 5.30pm on Wednesday, but the federation refused. So the agreement was introduced as government policy instead of a formal industrial agreement, which means it does not legally bind the government.
The Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, said he was committed to maintaining existing class sizes as ”policy” and said the federation could still sign the agreement to make it formal until 2016.
”The principals wanted the flexibility to determine their mix of staff and we’ve given that to them,” he said.Advertisement
The existing staffing agreement is due to expire within weeks.
The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said he was not able to sign the agreement at ”short notice” on Wednesday without first consulting his executive.
One of the sticking points in negotiations was the government’s refusal to guarantee the number of senior teaching positions. It will be left to school principals to decide the number within a set budget.
Mr Mulheron said the staffing agreement would have formalised class sizes, but these were now at the minister’s discretion.
He said the minister’s action ”confirms the fears of principals, teachers and parents that the government is intent on reducing the number of permanent classroom, executive and specialist teaching positions”.
”Without a formal staffing agreement, the class size policy can be changed at any time from term 4, 2012, onwards.”
In a letter to staff, the director- general of education, Michele Bruniges, said four months of negotiations with the Teachers Federation over new staffing arrangements arising from the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms had failed.
”Unfortunately these negotiations have not resulted in an agreement and as such the department will implement the new staffing procedures from day 1, term 4, 2012, by way of policy,” Dr Bruniges said. ”A key element of the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms is putting an end to the centrally determined one-size-fits-all staffing model.
”The Minister and I have been very clear that the Local Schools, Local Decisions staffing reforms will maintain a statewide staffing system, which has greater opportunities for teachers to be selected at the local level to better meet student needs; maintain the department’s class size policies”.
The opposition spokeswoman for education, Carmel Tebbutt, said the new arrangement meant there was no protection for the present number of teachers or class sizes. ”These will now be at the whim of the minister,” she said. The Greens MP John Kaye said: ”Classroom sizes and important administrative positions in schools have now been completely deregulated.”