Dispute Involving Queensland Instrumental Music Teachers

Graham Strahle
| August 28, 2019

A long running dispute over pay for Queensland instrumental music teachers may be at an end. The Courier Mail (subscriber only) reports that members of the Queensland Teachers Union have accepted a $1 billion pay offer from the State Government. This is a deal that would give a pay rise to all 45,000 state school teachers, and it comes after months of protest by union members against low pay rates and the threat of strike action on July 18 – which was subsequently called off.

The point here is that we will have to just wait and see whether this pay offer flows onto instrumental music teachers and instructors. In a nutshell, their complaints are specifically about the amount of voluntary work they find themselves having to contribute as part of their contractual teaching. They contend that many additional, unpaid demands are placed on them, such as running rehearsals and concerts outside formal school hours.

In protest, instrumental music teachers voted in favour of a work-to-rule directive from the QTU which saw them boycott the writing Term 2 reports in July. As a result students at state schools across Queensland missed receiving grades for instrumental music subjects.

QTU president, Kevin Bates, said that it is time to change the situation in which instrumental music teachers often find themselves being expected to donate their time and expertise towards out-of-hours school activity.

“Most classroom teachers have five hours a day of instruction, but music teachers have 30 hours a week, and are expected to attend rehearsals, ensembles and performances,’’ he told The Courier-Mail. “At the end of the year, there are speech nights and award nights and teachers are often flitting from one school to the next – it could be they work every night of the week until 10 o’clock.’’

Bates said instrumental music teachers working for Education Queensland should either be given increased pay or time in lieu.

The way instrumental music teachers have been represented in the media, as wanting more holidays, has angered some. Rhondda Morrow, an instrumental music teacher at Education Queensland who lives in Gympie, sees it as an example of ‘teacher bashing’. “Work to rule has never been about more holidays. It’s about recognition for what we do that is NOT included in the Qld Education department job description,” she wrote on Facebook.

Sports and drama teachers often face a similar situation, so it is not unique to music teachers. regardless of what the subject is, many teachers frequently give of their time generously. However, where this seriously cuts into their personal time or is not sufficiently recognised, there seems an obvious need to change.

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