Dec 14, 2017

End of year round up

End of year round up – December 2017 (PDF version)

This final bulletin for 2017 provides an update on some recent PSA activity.

Recording of absences in primary schools

Members are reminded that the PSA has a long-standing ban on the recording of ALL student absences in primary schools, and members working in primary schools are directed to continue to impose the ban on recording student absences.

This ban was put in place 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 typically the task of data entry for student absences is allocated 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.

This ban includes the entering of data for late arrivals/early leavers (partial absences.)

With the implementation of EBS4 as part of the LMBR, and attendant initial problems encountered in entering absences, including partial absences, teachers were unable to complete this task, creating a backlog of data entry. LMBR training materials also contained information that only SAS staff could record partial absences.

The Department has responded to the PSA’s concerns about this in part by removing from training materials reference to the requirement of SAS staff to record absences, including partial absences, and the reference to SAS staff being solely responsible for recording partial absences.

Members are advised that Post LMBR implementation the situation has not changed, that is the ban still applies, including in the following circumstances.

The PSA is aware that in both primary and secondary schools teachers are unable to access the EBS4 system after seven days in line with the Attendance Policy, and cannot record the reason for the student absence beyond this period. SAS staff are being required to complete this record, in contravention of Departmental guidelines and policies.

It is the PSA position that you are not required to perform this duty.

Nor should you be asked to input data from paper-based rolls which may be introduced as part of the transition to the new system.

New HR/payroll system

The PSA met with the Department on 11 December 2017 to discuss the new HR/payroll system rolling out in schools in 2018.

The Department advises it is continuing to prepare play books which will illustrate real-life scenarios and how these will be administered by the new system once it goes live. These play books will be available to schools as an ongoing resource to assist in the transition and application of the new system.

As a result of the meeting, the PSA also emailed a series of questions about how the new system will operate in schools. These questions canvassed such issues as:

  1. Higher Duties – how the system will process higher duties allowance, deductions, superannuation and salary sacrifice arrangements
  2. Leave – what is the full workflow process, how will leave balances come across to the new system. Are there any changes to the new system at school level to manage and what are the changes?
  3. Delegations – Who does what when it comes to Temp appointments, casual timesheets and non-attendances (staff who are on leave who have not submitted a prior leave application)
  4. ESS – workflows to who?
  5. Additional hours and overtime – How will this be done as currently paper-based forms are submitted for additional hours/overtime and will these claims be processed using the new HR Payroll system?
  6. Test cases – what test cases have been performed and what test cases have resulted in pass/fail?

The Department has been requested to provide this information in advance of the next meeting which will occur on 12 February 2018. Members will be advised via bulletins in the New Year with updated information once it comes to hand.

Workload issues

The PSA has raised concerns in the JCC about the role of this Committee and has written to the Department about consultation generally.

The PSA says that the Department doesn’t manage change effectively. The way the Department is organised means different areas of the Department follow consultative processes differently and no one appears to take responsibility for what happens overall.

There appears to be no assessment or acknowledgment of the impacts on workload when several changes are implemented at once, for example LMBR together with Performance & Planning Development and the bringing forward of WWCC compliance dates in primary schools.

The PSA has reminded the Department it has a duty to consult under the award and duties as an employer under work health and safety law to manage the work environment and ensure safe systems of work

The PSA has asked the Department to remind managers of the award provisions and the WHS laws and to meet with the PSA to discuss ways that we can agree on to better manage change in schools.

School leadership strategy

The PSA met with officers from the Department’s Human Resources and Industrial Relations Directorates recently and reiterated our position that the additional funding should be used to offer existing SAS Staff additional hours or overtime to complete the administrative work in schools.

SAS staff bring a high level of skill and expertise to the administrative operation of schools and this one-off additional funding would be most effectively utilised in this way.

The Department agreed that while the funding can be used in this way it is NOT the only way schools can address the issue of additional administrative support. Principals have been given great latitude in the way they use the funding to increase their capacity to focus on instructional leadership.

How this funding is used by schools will be monitored by the Department and its effectiveness will also be reviewed.

Discussion also took place about the Staffing Entitlement Review that was also announced as part of the Strategy.

While the Department has not yet decided on the scope of the Review they have committed to consultation with your union during the review and we are expecting meetings to commence in February or March next year.

The Schools Team wishes all members a well-deserved break at the end of a challenging year, and a safe and happy festive season.

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