How much release time are you entitled to as a graduate?
During your first year of teaching you may not know what you are entitled to when it comes to release time. Regardless of the sector you work in, you should be aware of your ability to access support and additional release time as part of your role and professional development.
It is important graduate teachers check their agreement entitlements in terms of additional non-contact hours. This can include time for planning, preparation and correction, meetings with mentors, and participation in professional learning. Such provisions have only been achieved as a result of the ongoing collective strength of members seeking improvements to their working rights and conditions.
Queensland Catholic sector
In the Queensland Catholic sector agreement a “New Graduate Teachers” clause refers to the formal support of first year teachers. This is included to help them develop the “skills, knowledge and practice” to effectively perform their duties.
The graduate teacher mentor program runs for a minimum of 12 months where the graduate teacher may request, or principal may determine, to extend the program. Consideration is given to the graduate teacher’s particular needs or level of proficiency to assist in meeting registration requirements.
The agreement allows for additional release time to enable graduate teachers to undertake activities such as the observation of exemplary teaching practice, joint and structured planning, mentoring meetings and professional development. The agreement also states that time release shall be provided to a designated mentor(s) to enable effective mentoring to graduates.
However, the document does not specify a minimum or maximum amount of release time. During the current round of Catholic bargaining negotiations, it was agreed that where a teacher undertakes activities in relation to mentoring programs, it would be factored into the hours of duty calculation of the respective teacher.
Northern Territory Catholic sector
There are no specific provisions outlining support for graduate members working in NT Catholic schools, although there is a structured support program for teaching staff who are new to the sector.
The support offered to new graduates is to be outlined as part of the initial school level orientation program.
“There will be an induction period of three school terms for any teaching staff newly appointed to a Catholic school in the Northern Territory. The principal must follow a structured induction program which includes meetings with the staff member and mentor and will provide professional and other assistance as the principal and mentor considers necessary.”
Queensland Anglican sector
According to the Queensland Anglican Schools Enterprise Agreement 2015, graduate teachers will receive access to support during their first year, with an option to extend the support for a further year. The agreement outlines that schools are “encouraged to implement strategies for effective induction such as the use of mentoring, provision of time release and participation in programs tailored for graduate teachers.
This includes “one on one support, to be determined by the principal, in consultation with the teacher.”
Queensland Lutheran sector
The Queensland Lutheran Agreement 2015 recognises that graduate induction is a significant phase in the “continuum of teacher development”.
It mentions that effective induction takes place in a process of “dialogue and professional collaboration” and recommends induction to be supported by appropriate mentors such as senior administrators and PARs, leading teachers and other experienced teachers who are willing and able to assist the graduate teacher.
“Clear guidelines and feedback must be provided in regard to the requirements of the Queensland College of Teachers for full registration including regular reviews with their mentor.”
Graduate teachers are provided assistance with the development of “suitable teaching programs and pedagogy consistent with the requirements of the school work program” and the individual needs of the students, including consideration of a reduced teaching load.
Northern Territory Lutheran sector
Graduate members working in NT Lutheran schools are able to access a graduate teacher development program during their first three years and receive regular in-class and mentor support. Teachers in their first year of service are provided with an average of two hours of additional non-contact time per fortnight. The agreement states: “the additional non-contact time, unlike other non-contact time, is not discretionary, but will be used for professional interaction with senior staff, mentors or any other purpose by agreement with the principal.”
Recognising the professional contributions of graduate teachers requires employers to commit to providing adequate release time.
Members are encouraged to build strength in order to enhance existing provisions around release time. By providing support and additional noncontact hours for both graduates and mentors, this will help build constructive relationships and progressive learning within schools.
For employees in other sectors and sites, you can check your specific entitlement by visiting www.qieu.asn.au/at-work/agreements/