Internship agreements under negotiation, teachers must supervise interns at all times

1 March, 2021

Our union is currently in negotiations with non-government education employers and universities regarding the agreements governing internship placements in non-government schools.

IEU Research Officer Adele Schmidt said the main points under contention are new requirements that interns not be left unsupervised in the classroom and for universities to provide payment to supervising teachers for their work.

“Previously, interns were allowed to conduct lessons without the presence of their supervising teacher, while the supervising teacher could undertake additional non-contact time,” Adele said.

“Supervising teachers were also not paid for their role by most universities offering internships.

“Our union’s position is that while negotiations are still ongoing, members should not leave their intern/s unsupervised in the classroom as this could expose them to professional and/or industrial/legal issues.

“For example, if an incident occurred in the classroom without the supervising teacher – there may be questions over who ultimately has the duty of care.

“Members should remember that taking on an intern is discretionary and voluntary, so they have the right to decline a placement.

“If a member does decide to take on an intern, they should contact our union’s expert industrial team so they understand their legal rights and requirements.”

Role of internships

Historically, our union has supported internships for pre-service teachers by negotiating a variety of internship agreements signed by the relevant universities, our major employers and our union along with the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

Those agreements have always indicated that the major benefit to supervising teachers who take on an intern is the opportunity to access additional release time, while the intern works unsupervised with their class.

Adele said that in 2019, our union was successful in securing payment (at standard practicum supervision rates) for supervising teachers for the first half of the internship.

“This phase of the placement requires the supervising teacher to provide significant support and guidance to the intern, so it is appropriate the supervising teacher is remunerated fairly,” Adele said.

“The payment was initially included in the Griffith University Agreement, but the new variations would see payment extended to agreements with other universities.”

Recently, the Queensland Department of Education has requested a variation to all remaining internship agreements indicating that an intern should not be left unsupervised in the classroom.

This has sparked the negotiations with non-government employers, universities and our union.

Internships differ from practicum placements

Practicum placements are mandatory for all pre-service teachers to complete before graduating.

Internships are additional placements for pre-service teachers that some universities require as additional practical experience.

In practice, internships often lead to pre-service teachers securing their first paying job.

Prac payment for supervising teachers set to rise

In 2021, supervising teachers of practicum students will be paid $34 per day after last year’s increase to $30 per day.

Our union and the QTU recently secured benchmark payrates for supervising teachers after the sustained collective action of members.

Queensland universities agreed to increase in 2019 after the base payment for the supervision of pre-service teachers had not been formally updated in any sector since 1996, despite increases in expectations and the workload associated with the role.

Prior to this, supervising teachers were paid varying rates between as little as $12.45 per day up to a maximum of $21.84 per day, depending on their sector and school.

IEU members undertaking practicum supervision from this year should ensure they are being paid at the new rate and contact our union if they believe they are not.

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