Independent schools are not required to take teachers under the transfer system.
Independent schools are not required to take teachers under the transfer system.

Teachers threaten strike over schools plan

MORE than 200 public schools could lose the power to choose their own teachers from next year.

Educators have threatened to strike if their demands to ditch the independent public school system are not met.

The Queensland Teachers' Union has lobbied the State Government to move swiftly to end the initiative.

It claimed the system created an inequity by snubbing teachers in remote areas awaiting transfer for teachers in existing schools in southeast Queensland.

A steering committee charged with looking at changes in light of the Government's IPS review gave recommendations to government last week.

Education Minister Grace Grace said a decision would be known by tomorrow.

Education Minister Grace Grace
Education Minister Grace Grace

There are 250 independent public schools in Queensland under the popular initiative introduced in 2013 by the former LNP-Campbell Newman administration.

The scheme empowered public schools for the first time to choose how to spend public funds and to select their own teaching staff.

This was a major departure from the existing system, where schools are allocated teachers through a statewide transfer system.

Under the system, teachers accrue points for service in remote communities and can use those points to apply for transfers to schools in more sought-after locations once their regional service ends.

Ms Grace gave no commitment that the initiative would extend beyond "at least" 2020.

But the union wants it to axe the power for schools to choose their teachers from the start of next year and has threatened strike action in early 2019 should it not agree.

Of 515 schools surveyed, 460 supported taking strike action.

"In the 2018 transfer process some 60 teachers with high transfer points could not be accommodated in a transfer, according to their stated preferences," a QTU newsletter said.

"There are currently more than 200 teachers in promotional positions on waiting lists for relocations, some having applications spanning four years."

Public schools could lose the power to choose their own teachers.
Public schools could lose the power to choose their own teachers.

QTU state secretary Kevin Bates said the recommendations of a steering committee formed after a review of the IPS system were put to State Cabinet.

He said the IPS scheme had "broken the system", as they were not required to take teachers under the transfer system.

Mr Bates said it had "significant negative impacts" because 209 of the 250 independent schools were in the southeast corner, where most teachers wanted to live.

"This is a change that will restore fairness and include everybody in the process and make sure we are supporting the system.," he said.

"That means we can get teachers to go to remote centres and that those teachers can be supported to return to those locations at the end of their service in remote locations."

Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie accused the Government of planning to strip the schools of the right to choose their own staff at the behest of the union.

He denied it was causing transfer backlogs, and pointed to IPS schools who struck up sister-city relationships between southeast and regional schools to foster exchange opportunities.

"That kills the IPS because the whole idea of IPS is giving autonomy to the principal," Mr Bleijie said.

"The union hate it because they have no involvement and are opposed to anything that takes away their ability to influence the process, and that's why they are saying if IPS are going to continue to 2020, we at least want the HR to stop."