TRB, the DoE and Teacher Registration

Due to concerns and questions that have been put forward by members, we have been meeting with the TRB, DoE and the Minister to discuss the full registration process and other matters. In addition to this, representatives from the TRB spoke at our recent AEU Executive Branch Board meeting.

The following is a summary of the points that were discussed and the information that was shared at these meetings –

New Graduates

It had been reported to the AEU that teachers were required to produce their graduation certificates to the Department of Education (DoE) prior to having their salary point progressed to Band 1 Level 5, even though they had already been granted TRB registration.  As of the date of this publication, after consultation with the DoE, the department is now paying entry level teachers at Band 1 Level 5 once they have completed their course and can produce their university paperwork – i.e. they do not have to have graduated as was previously the case.  A great outcome.

Working with Vulnerable People Check

Currently, teachers are required to hold a Working with Vulnerable People Check (WwVP) in addition to the fitness to teach check that the TRB undertakes.  The AEU is in the process of convening a joint meeting with the Education Secretary and the TRB to discuss the overlap between the checks and explore any avenues to streamline this process.  The TRB indicated that they advocated for teachers in Tasmania to be exempt from the requirement to hold a WwVP check, however this recommendation was not taken up by the Department of Justice.

Relief Teachers

The AEU is aware that there is a shortage of relief teachers and this can be quite dire at certain times of the year and in key locations.  We have had assurances from both the TRB and the DoE that they are collaborating to provide a solution to this shortage by providing relief LATs.  This will be implemented via relief LAT clusters.  This will mean that applicants can apply for a LAT that covers a region/cluster of schools rather than just one school. Progress at last.

VET Specialist Teachers 

The Teachers Registration Act 2000 provides for a specialist VET registration category, which recognises the qualifications, teaching experiences and competencies of teachers who are engaged in the VET sector.  It is a separate registration to full or provisional teacher registration. VET registered teachers are qualified to deliver VET courses in both Tasmania schools and TasTAFE.   The TRB also provides for dual registration and a number of Tasmanian teachers hold both specialist VET and full or provisional registration.   The DoE has acknowledged that introducing VET teachers into the school system (particularly senior high school and college) has produced unintended and unanticipated consequences.  These mostly relate to the salary structure and inequities that have been created between TAFE employees and DoE employees.  VET teachers in schools in Tasmania are currently employed under the Teaching Service Award.  Many of these VET teachers are receiving significantly less remuneration than their TAFE counterparts.  This is because the DoE is applying the teacher standard to their skill, experience and qualifications rather than the industry standard. AEU Executive have endorsed a new VET Specialist Teacher salary scale.  We are just waiting on confirmation from the DoE then the Award will be varied.  We will keep members updated.

Provisional to Full Registration

Since the introduction of the new salary point (Band 1 Level 13), in the most recent Teachers Agreement, there has been a flow on effect for teacher registration; specifically, the transition from provisional to full registration.  This process has been in existence since 2009, however it has not been compulsory and has not been linked to salary points or ability to access promoted positions.  As such, many teachers have found themselves in a position where they either are required to transition (promoted positions) or desire to transition due to the higher salary point and the ability to apply for promoted positions in the future.

This linking of full registration to promotion and salary is driven by the motivation to professionalise teaching and it is linked to the AITSL teacher standards.  The AEU, TRB and DoE all agree, in principle, on the merits of this professionalisation.  It is envisaged that this process should be linked to the teacher PDP process and be completed within the first 3-5 years of teaching.  This timeframe has always been an expectation of the TRB, however in the past it has not been readily taken up by all teachers nor encouraged by the employer.  This lack of uptake has meant that, once the new salary point was introduced and full registration was linked to this and to promoted positions, there was an immediate backlog of teachers wishing to transition to full registration.

At the introduction of the requitement for full registration to access promoted positions and increased salary, the TRB and the DoE went into discussion and negotiated supports for teachers moving through this process. Initially this support was focused on employees who were provisionally registered and already in promoted positions, this was a priority for both the DoE and TRB as these employees were in positions without the required registration, through no fault of their own.  The support consisted of a team of 15 highly respected ex principals with extensive knowledge of the AITSL standards and the transition process.

During Term 2 and Term 3 of 2017 approximately 100 employees transitioned from provisional to full registration and there has been a 400% increase in applications since the introduction of the new requirements. Currently, support has been expanded to Band 2 and 3 employees, and to one on one support offered to applicants who fail their portfolio audit.   The TRB is currently auditing all applicants’ portfolios, this is being done to ensure that all portfolio’s meet the required standard. This was a response to the fact that some school based panels were basing their approvals of portfolios on insufficient knowledge of the requirements for teachers to engage with the AITSL standards deeply and present sufficiently annotated documents.  As such the TRB and DoE are also embarking on a PL based response, where training is being offered to upskill knowledge base in this area.  This is aimed to help teachers to engage with the AITSL standards more deeply, be able to articulate their practise as referenced against the standards more accurately and gain a more astute judgement as to what constitutes good evidence of best practise.  The PLI has already offered training in this area and will do so in the future.  The AEU has been shown online modules produced by the PLI to assist in the process. The TRB also has a range of information on their website and has developed a number of instructional videos in conjunction with the PLI for the use of DoE employees.  The AEU has also raised concerns with the TRB and DoE about the need for additional support in schools where multiple employees are wanting to transition from provisional to full registration.

It is important to note that the TRB is not implying that applicants who fail their audit are not good teachers.  Rather the TRB is indicating that they have not yet provided the required evidence and they are given an opportunity to do so.  There also appears to be a misperception about the role of the TRB as being one of a service provider.  The TRB is a professional regulatory body, it is not a service provider.  As with other professions, such as doctors and lawyers, teachers are required to be professionally registered.  The TRB facilitates and regulates this, it provides a licence to teach and it is a service for Tasmanian students.

If members have further question about anything that has been raised in this document, they can contact their union on (03) 6234 9500 or 1800 001 313 or support@aeutas.org.au