QCT marks disciplinary changes for teachers amidst Act amendment
Changes to teacher disciplinary procedures and its appeals processes are amongst new amendments to the Education (Queensland College of Teachers) Act 2005.
- New legislation places the disciplinary committee under obligation to undertake a timely review of evidence before proceeding with any claims.
- Where evidence is taken as sufficient to indicate an unacceptable risk of harm to children, the college is required to provide immediate notification of a decision to suspend teacher registration.
- Teachers under investigation for minor disciplinary breaches can enter into voluntary agreements with their employer and the college.
Disciplinary changes for teachers
For teachers in non-government schools, the most critical amendments in the Bill are those that relate to disciplinary aspects and the appeals process relating to discretionary suspension of teacher registration. Key changes include:
- Renaming the College’s internal disciplinary committee as the Professional Capacity and Teacher Conduct Committee and broadening the scope of information that can be considered when determining whether there is grounds for disciplinary action;
- The capacity for teachers under investigation for minor disciplinary breaches to enter into voluntary agreements with their employer and the college; and
- The streamlining of processes of investigation and appeal for teachers whose registration has been suspended.
Unlike teachers in the state sector, who continue to receive income while under investigation, wages and salaries for teachers in non-government schools generally cease if the teacher’s registration is suspended. The new legislation places the disciplinary committee under obligation to undertake a timely review of evidence before proceeding and, where evidence is taken as sufficient to indicate an unacceptable risk of harm to children, the college is required to provide the teacher with immediate notification of a decision to suspend their registration.
Additionally, teachers will be granted a minimum of 28 days to make a submission when their registration is suspended, providing the individual with at least some control over the duration of the process.
Other changes associated with the Education and Other Legislation Amendment Bill include:
- The Preparatory Year (Prep) will become the compulsory first year of school education;
- The number of individuals on the governing body of the QCT will be reduced, but the number of practitioners will remain unchanged;
- The prescribed requirement for teachers not meeting Recency of Practice requirements (minimum 100 days of teaching in the past five years) to complete a “Return-to-Teaching” program will be removed;
- A statutory debt recovery mechanism will be established to recover government funding paid to non-government schools in excess of their entitlement; and
- The Non-state Schools Accreditation Board will have strengthened oversight of non-government schools.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it was appropriate that teachers in non-government schools were finally afforded the same rights as their state counterparts when it came to disciplinary procedures.
“Our union supports the role of the college in meeting its obligations under a nationally consistent approach to teacher registration, assessing suitability of applications for ongoing registration and providing accreditation of initial teacher education programs.
“Such functions are of fundamental relevance to our members and the institutions in which they work and our union is appreciative of QCT’s commitment to work constructively and collaboratively with stakeholders to uphold the profession,” Mr Burke said.