PSA Schools bulletin

Nov 27, 2017

PSA Schools bulletin – November 2017 (PDF version)

Schools Departmental Committee Meeting 15 November 2017

The Schools DC held its final meeting for 2017, which has been another extraordinarily busy year for NSW public schools. A number of major reforms such as LMBR, Working with Children Check, Performance Development Plans and the overall Local Schools Local Decisions have impacted on school staff.

Pay equity

A full report was provided to the DC on the progress of the case so far which was filed in the Industrial Relations Commission in March.

As previously reported to members, the PSA filed its evidence (excluding expert witnesses) on 27 October 2017. This represents a considerable body of work which comprises of 13 volumes and more than 22 witness statements mostly from SAS staff, including Schools DC delegates.

The DC expressed its appreciation and gratitude to those members who have contributed to the case. It is a major undertaking and a substantial commitment by those who have stepped up to the challenge.

Further reports to members will be provided as the case progresses through into 2018.

School Leadership Strategy

There was much discussion about the current School Leadership Strategy and the allocated $50 million funding provided for it.

Already the PSA and DC delegates are aware of a large variation across schools as to how this funding will be used.

The PSA position is that we strongly believe the skills and expertise of SAS staff should be utilised and existing staff should have access to those funds.

The PSA is having a further meeting with the Department to discuss this and a report will be provided to members on the outcome of these discussions.

Training, CRG and SRG

PSA delegates and staff have been involved in considerable consultation with the Department over the year in regards to training and the review of the CRG and SRGs. The PSA strongly encourages members to participate in the survey to be conducted by the Department in the near future so that your views are heard. An invitation to participate in focus groups will also be included in the email to schools which will include a separate link to the survey. We encourage members to participate in these focus groups.

An external review of Professional Learning funds allocated to schools is to be conducted with results expected in 2018.

Four online SAP/SALM learning modules will be made available to Learning and High Performance Directorate and to SRGs in 2018, one of which is ‘Assets and Stocktake’.

The PSA has also received a number of complaints from SAMs in primary schools who only have access to the tier 3 option for the Excellence in School Administration and Strategy Coaching Mentoring program.

The PSA has raised this with the Department and was advised that the training was funded under the Secondary Schools Renewal programme. The PSA was advised that some training materials are available online.

Staffing Entitlement Review 2018

The Department has informed the PSA that it will be conducting a Staffing Entitlement Review. This could potentially have wide ranging implications for SAS Staff and will be a major issue for members in 2018.

The PSA is currently following up with the Department to get further details about the proposed process for the review and PSA involvement.


PSA delegates and industrial staff continue to meet with the LMBR directorate on a fortnightly basis. LMBR Directorate will be closing down in 2018. A review by Ernst and Young will be conducted to investigate all support models to schools and determine options for future support. Version 4.26 is to be released next year in Term 1 with additional resources allocated to update all QRGs.

The current plan for Term 1 2018 is to provide phone support for the first three weeks, support for new and relieving School Administrative Managers, and training in SAP reporting.

HR Payroll

PSA delegates and industrial officers met last week with HR and Industrial Relations regarding the new HR Payroll module. The new module will include the organisational chart for fund code, general ledger and cost centre, a timesheet for reason code, and a custom function for Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and Internal Order (IO). There will be no CEPS codes used.

PSA delegates and industrial staff will be providing scenarios to the Department with the view to assisting in development.

Twelve ESS online help manuals will be developed. The system will focus on self-service/self-help with an additional seven online manuals to be developed for management.

Four change managers will be temporally employed geographically to assist in the first release along with increased resources that will be allocated to the support helpdesk (EdConnect).

Leader and Manager led communication packs will be provided to School Principals with training to be cascaded following communication from Directors.

Absences in primary schools

The DC would like to remind SAS staff employed in primary schools of the long-standing ban on recording absences in primary schools.

This ban was implemented due to the disparity in staffing levels between high schools and primary schools with the same student numbers. High schools have a higher SAS-staff-to-student ratio and would typically allocate the task of data entry for student absences to one particular SAS staff member.

As this is not the case in primary schools, the PSA regards it as inequitable and inherently unfair to hold primary schools to the same workload standards without the appropriate staffing/resource allocation.

The PSA opposes any unfair pressure being placed on SAS staff and advises SAS staff in primary schools to adhere to this ban. This ban includes the entering of data for late arrivals and early leavers (partial absences).

School DC Dates for 2018

  • Tuesday 13 March
  • Tuesday 22 May
  • Tuesday 14 August
  • Tuesday 13 November

Department of Education – your rights: Christmas closedown

Nov 23, 2017

Department of Education – your rights Christmas closedown – November 2017 (PDF version)

As Christmas approaches, many staff will begin to receive directions from managers or supervisors in relation to the Christmas closedown. The Christmas closedown period for 2017/18 will take place between Monday 25 December and Friday 5 January, inclusive. The PSA has already been informed of a number of instances where staff have been told that they must take leave over this period.

Can I work during the closedown period?

While the NSW Government encourages all non-‘frontline’ areas to shut down, you are in no way obligated to take leave. Despite what may be said, staff are not required to present a justification or “business case” to explain why they wish to keep working. Unless you can be directed to take leave (see below), it is your choice of whether you work or not.

If your office is going to be shut, a reasonable alternative work arrangement must be made available for you. If practicable, this could include working from home for some or all of the time. You may have to work at a different location, but you cannot be expected to travel unreasonable distances and you may be entitled to be reimbursed for the additional costs of travel.

The PSA encourages members to regularly take recreation leave for their own health and welfare.

Can I be directed to take recreation leave due to the closedown?

You can be told to take recreation leave only if you have an ‘excess’ balance:

  • if you have accrued eight weeks’ (40 days’) recreation leave, you can be told to take two weeks’ leave sometime within the following six weeks
  • if you have accrued 6-8 weeks’ (30-40 days’) recreation leave, you can be told to take two weeks’ leave sometime within the following three months.

Other than in these two scenarios, you cannot be directed to take recreation leave.

Need help?

If you are a member and have any questions or are having difficulties in relation to the Christmas closedown, please contact the PSA’s Member Support Centre on 1300 772 679.

General Assistants bulletin – Relief GA during recreation Leave

Nov 14, 2017

General Assistants bulletin – Relief GA during recreation Leave – November 2017 (PDF version)

Members advise that sometimes they are having difficulty taking recreation leave and getting schools to replace them during absences.

There is a lot of false information which is circulating around schools now that LMBR and the RAM has been rolled out across the state.

The PSA has made enquiries of the Department of Education (DoE) on the formal arrangements which should apply when a GA takes recreation leave.

The official DoE position is recreation leave is mapped to be non-chargeable to schools. This means while the substantive GA is on approved recreation leave he is funded from the centre and not from the school.

For the period of approved recreation leave the funding for the GA position remains in the school and can be used to fund the replacement GA.

Essentially, GA recreation leave is cost-neutral to the school and you should be able to take your leave without concern that the school will be worse off, or having to pay extra to another GA to replace you.

GA survey 2017

It has been a while since the GA membership has been surveyed so the PSA can learn of the industrial issues which are impacting on members across the state.

GAs are encouraged to take the time to complete the survey. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence. The survey is for internal PSA use and individual responses will not be shared with third parties.

You can complete the survey HERE.

The survey will only take 15 minutes of your time and can be completed at home if you do not wish to use computers at school. If you don’t have access to a computer and would like to complete the survey, please call the MSC on 1300 772 679 and a hard copy can be posted to you.

The GA Survey 2017 will close on 8 December 2017. A bulletin will be provided to GA members after the survey has closed and been analysed to inform members of the results.

Welcome to the new General Assistants Advisory Group (GAAG) delegates

The recent call for nominations and ballot of GA members sees some new faces on the GAAG. Congratulations and welcome to GAAG Delegates!

For members’ information, your GAAG Delegates are:

Delegate School Email contact
Douglas Ashton Cambridge Park High School
Michael Burrell Chifley College
Philip Crowe Northern Beaches Secondary College
Brett Hammond (Chair) Kirrawee High School
Michael Jedniuk Hinchinbrook Public School
Boyd Kellner Byron Bay Public School
Alan Livet Woolgoolga High School
Bill Martin Vincentia High School
Steve Smith (Secretary) Cobar High School

SAS Staff pay equity case – PSA witness statements filed

Oct 27, 2017

SAS Staff Pay Equity Case – 27 Oct 2017 (PDF version)

A big step forward in the PSA’s pay equity case for SAS Staff took place today as the PSA filed its witness statements in the Industrial Relations Commission. All up 22 statements were filed, most from PSA members working across all the SAS Staff classifications in schools.

The PSA thanks those SAS Staff members for their support and dedication in assisting in the preparation of the case.

This is a significant milestone in the case. The next major step in the case will be when we receive the Department’s evidence in December.

School Leadership Strategy

Last month the Minister announced a School Leadership Strategy, which included an additional $50 million to be allocated to schools to assist principals with the increasing demands in school administration. The PSA met with the Department by teleconference to discuss how the additional funding would be allocated to schools.

The funding has been allocated on student enrolments. At smaller schools, the allocation is $11,000 which is equivalent to the salary of a School Administrative Officer (SAO) for one day per week for 12 months. Large schools will receive funding equivalent to a full-time SAO.

According to the Department, principals cannot use the additional funding to employ teachers.

The PSA raised the following in relation to the funds:

  • Existing SAS staff should be offered additional hours
  • Current SAS staff requested to undertake higher level duties are to be paid appropriately, for example School Administrative Manager performing Business Manager duties should receive the difference between the hourly rate of pay of SAM and BM
  • Funds should be used effectively and efficiently whilst also recognising the skills of existing SAS staff employed at the school.

As part of the School Leadership Strategy, the Department also advised the PSA it will be conducting a School Entitlement Review which will include a review of the way schools are staffed.

The PSA has sought a meeting with the Secretary of the Department to discuss these matters.



SAS Staff member update

Oct 18, 2017

SAS Staff member update – October 2017 (PDF version)

Principal workload and time use study (Deloitte Review) School leadership strategy

In response to claims of emerging evidence about the impact on educational leadership, of the increasing demands in administration and the growth in the role and responsibilities of school principals, the Department commissioned Deloitte to conduct a research study into school principal workload and time use.

The PSA was advised on Friday 8 September of an imminent Ministerial announcement in response to the study’s findings, and was briefed by the Assistant Secretary, School Operations and Performance.

The Minister announced a School Leadership Strategy which delivers $50 million in funding, to be implemented progressively over the next 18 months.

The appointment of additional administrative staff, including but not limited to business managers.

The PSA has identified a number of industrial issues arising from the announcement at a recent Joint Consultative Committee and has sought a response from the Department about their management.

These include the split and availability of funding; the impact and adherence to the Determining the Mix of Staff in Schools Policy and the Procedure; the recruitment and deployment of staff, and consultative arrangements on implementation.

The report also foreshadows an Educational Services Review and a longer term staffing entitlement review about which further information will be sought and acted on.


Under the ‘Local schools Local decisions’ initiative, the discretion of principals to appoint staff is regulated to some extent by the policy document Principles for Determining the Mix of Staff in NSW Public Schools which was first negotiated with the unions in 2014.

The Department recently provided the PSA with a revised document, Determining the Mix of Staff in NSW Public Schools Procedure, which is intended to provide schools with clear guidelines on the rules and procedures for staffing schools using Centrally Identified Positions (CIPs) and Above Centrally Identified Positions (ACIPs).

The PSA protested the inadequate time frame provided for response. A conference was subsequently convened during which the PSA raised numerous concerns about the Procedures documentation.

Amongst these, the PSA identified that it did not reference all the instruments and policies to which the procedures were to comply; it contained reference to the hiring of contractors which could encourage forms of insecure employment; and the information about disestablishment costs was incomplete and misleading.

The document has been amended in response to these concerns, by including reference to the correct and relevant instruments; deleting the reference to contractors, amending the material on disestablishment costs and referring the PSA’s concerns to the Finance Directorate for response.


The Department is implementing a new HR/payroll system across the workplace. This includes corporate as well as schools. SAP will be progressively rolled out across NSW in four releases.

Release one is for Corporate and a small sample of 32 schools. Live testing of the system will be conducted throughout August, September and October.

The Department intends to run parallel systems for a defined period so that any bugs in the new system can be readily identified and eliminated. The release agenda is:

  1. 30 Aug – 12 Sept 2017 first tranche 23 November 2017 – 5%
  2. March 2018 – additional 10%
  3. April 2018 – additional 35%
  4. May 2018 – 50% (remaining schools)

Currently, system testing is approximately 98 per cent complete in advance of the first go-live. The Department is also undertaking a “penny test” to learn what happens with data inaccuracies. The Department is attempting to avoid other recent failed payroll systems migrations such as Queensland Health, which led to massive problems for employees being paid incorrectly for prolonged periods.

The Department has also advised that no new HR processing will need to be undertaken at school level. No new responsibilities will be devolved to schools with existing paper based functions transitioning to online processing.

Training is being developed in the new HR/payroll system and this will involve block training, online training, and facilitated learning and just in time training. The training is being tailored to the employee’s function/responsibility within corporate or if they are school-based.

Pay Equity case for SAS Staff

Oct 12, 2017

Pay Equity case for SAS Staff – October 2017 (PDF version)

The PSA lodged an application to vary the Crown Employees (School Administrative and Support Staff) Award to include descriptors and a salary increase for all classifications of SAS Staff in March this year.

This is a major case which is being run under the Equal Remuneration and Other Conditions Principle.

The PSA is in the process of preparing statements from members who work in the classifications under the award. This evidence is due to be filed on 27 October 2017.

In these statements members describe what they do each day in their job and how their work has changed. For example, they discuss how the introduction of major reforms into schools has affected their workload. The PSA is also gathering evidence as to the origins of these classifications, and the history of their industrial regulation. More than 20 members are compiling this evidence across the classifications in the award.

The Department is to file and serve its lay evidence in reply on 15 December 2017 and the matter is next listed before the Commission on 21 December 2017.


The Department has brought forward its requirements for compliance with the statutory provisions for child-related employment clearance to November 2017. The statutory compliance date remains 31 March 2018

The PSA wrote to the Department raising member concerns arising out of the Children’s Guardian monitoring and auditing functions, which impact on the work required of school administrative staff. We required the Department acknowledge and resolve these concerns by:

  1. Assessing the workload impact of statutory compliance to date, and the need for the provision of additional resources
  2. Conducting a risk assessment of the changed work practices
  3. Consulting with the PSA on the implementation of the compliance requirements to be introduced from November 2017.

The Department has responded and considers the workload impact to be temporary and measures such as Probity Team Support and Training, the FAQs on WWCC, and enhancements to the ECPC data base will deal with any issues. The PSA disagrees these measures will manage the situation adequately.

The PSA has requested a meeting with the Department to address the inadequate response to these concerns.


This matter has been ongoing. The Department proposed to simplify pay/leave entitlements to Long-Term Temporary (LTT) SAS Staff to provide for equal pays irrespective of being in term time or on student vacation. This will bring LTT pays in line with permanent SAS Staff.

This change would involve variations to the SAS Staff awards including the abolition of the stand-down provisions for LTT SAS Staff during student vacation periods.

The Department provided draft MOU and variation text which has been subject to scrutiny by the PSA’s lawyers, who recommended a number of wording changes which the Department has accepted. The Department has provided a final MOU and variation text. This has been signed off by the DoE and supplied to the PSA. This is currently with the General Secretary for formalisation.

At this stage, the Department has no firm date in mind for implementing pay/leave simplification. There is a tentative date of May 2018 for pay/leave simplification to be applied. However, pay/leave simplification will require the new HR/payroll system to be operational before it can be implemented in schools. Depending on the rollout of the new HR/payroll system will influence when pay/leave simplification can occur in schools.

This matter is ongoing.


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