ACT teachers are unlikely to accept a 12 per cent pay offer while they continue to work longer hours than Australian and international averages.
The Australian Education Union expressed disgust on Monday that ACT Education Minister Joy Burch was presenting a pay offer to teachers through the media.
ACT Secretary Glenn Fowler said he was still to receive a copy of the proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement but it did not appear to be any different to a previous offer – which was soundly rejected.
The crucial sticking point is not the pay rise of 12 per cent – which Mr Fowler said was "seen as broadly reasonable" by teachers – but no reduction in face-to-face teaching hours.
Mr Fowler said the union and Education Directorate had spent a year arguing about the need for teachers to receive a guaranteed block of time each week for professional development and collaboration with other staff which would have a direct impact on teaching practice and student outcomes.
The directorate had costed the measure at $70 million over the life of the agreement and said it was unaffordable.
But Mr Fowler said teachers were prepared to fight for a better deal.
"Teachers do not trust their employer to protect them from snow-balling workloads, and we say to the employer if there is no guaranteed and quarantined time made in the new agreement, we will never see it, and that time may continue to get stripped away from teachers."
"Teachers are deeply disappointed that good faith bargaining has been replaced by bargaining in the media. And we are deeply disappointed we were not given copy of offer before the Minister went public – it is so disrespectful, and the notion of dressing an old offer up as a new one is nothing short of insulting and cynical."
According to the Staff in Australian Schools Survey published last April by the Australian Council of Educational Research, ACT primary school teachers were working 50.2 hours a week on average.
This was above the average for Australian primary teachers of 47.9 hours per week which, in turn, increased from 45.8 hours in 2010.
ACT secondary teachers were working 49 hour weeks. This was higher than the Australian average of 47.6, which increased from 46 hours in 2010.
The union wants ACT primary teachers to receive a quarantined 90 minutes each week for professional development, and 60 minutes for secondary teachers.
Mr Fowler believed the $1 billion Mr Fluffy buy-back program was the biggest factor in reducing money available for education investments.
A spokesman for Education Minister Joy Burch said "the Government agrees with the importance of ongoing professional learning, however does not agree that the best way to achieve this is by taking time away from a teacher and their students. We need our talented teachers doing what they do best – working with students. We've reduced workload through other means to allow them to focus on their core role."
But Mr Fowler said the ACT school system would continue to slip behind international systems if quality teaching was not prioritised.
According to the 2014 OECD Education at a Glance report, teachers in OECD schools had 782 face-to-face teaching hours per year. ACT primary school teachers had 860 face-to-face teaching hours per year.
This meant ACT primary teachers had almost two hours more face-to-face teaching hours each week than the average across comparable countries, with Australian teachers, including ACT teachers, teaching almost 5 hours more each week than international education leading light, Finland.
In high schools, the OECD average for lower secondary school face-to-face teaching hours was 694 while ACT high school teachers had 760 face-to-face teaching hours per year.
For upper secondary school face-to-face teaching hours, the OECD average was 16.5 per week while ACT college teachers taught 19 face-to-face teaching hours per week.
While Ms Burch has promised a reduction in overall teaching workload of a minimum of 20 hours a year, Mr Fowler said no new resources had been specifically identified to achieve this.
The directorate said teachers would face less red tape, but Mr Fowler said there had been no comparable increase in administrative work hours to enable this to happen.
Mr Fowler said he was still waiting to see the fine print of the offer and it would be discussed at the next council meeting in a fortnight.
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