The Malta Independent 19 October 2018, Friday

Teachers’ union issues directives over heavy workload and photocopying restrictions

Friday, 21 September 2018, 16:22 Last update: about 27 days ago

The Union of Professional Educators has issued two sets of directives targeting state schools.

The new scholastic year starts on Monday.

The first set of directives is related to the workload some teachers are facing.

“For a number of years now, teachers have been asking for their teaching loads to become less heavy due to various added duties that were affecting their workload at school and even that of after school hours. The last sectoral agreement signed by the other teachers’ union was meant to address this, especially since all teachers are now burdened with preparing for the introduction of the Learning Outcomes Frameworks. Though the loads did change, teachers and the School Administrators are now facing a ‘new’ problem and a new injustice,” UPE executive Graham Sansone said.

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The UPE said it had met with education ministry officials, who said that the situation was only affecting a handful of people. “A number of this ‘handful’ of teachers have approached us to show their disappointment when they found that they have a load of 25 lessons and were not heeded by anyone about their concerns,” Sansone said.

The current agreement states: “Provided that in exceptional cases arising out of timetable exigencies, the teaching load will consist of a maximum of 25 lessons”.

The ministry told the UPE that this exception, which is affecting Maltese language and Maths teachers, came as a result of a lack of teachers and from the fact that their timetables are worked with multiples of 5 lessons a week.

The union said the ministry was unwilling to offer any solution or compensation and “only suggested that Heads of School may refrain from giving a ‘full load’ (25 lessons which are exceptional) to the same person in the next scholastic year, though this is the Heads prerogative.”

This situation was unacceptable the union said. “These are factors for which the Directorate is responsible and not the teachers or school Administrators. It is not the teacher’s role to attract others to the profession and such treatment of present teachers will surely not attract new ones.”

The union has instructed teachers suffering this ‘injustice’ to; not attend any subject meetings, not be involved in SDP group duties; and they are not to be assigned posts of special duties like Form Teacher duties.

The second set of directives is related to the pilot project whereby teachers have to make photocopies at the government printing press in Marsa.

The UPE said it remains adamant on the principle that teachers and other educators are professionals and thus need to be treated as such.

“Their autonomy in the preparation of their work and their right to intellectual property ownership should not be threatened. They should be provided with an adequate photocopying service at their workplace and need not be restricted in using this sole service or burdened with extra time restrictions with regard to the preparation or delivery of their paperwork.”

UPE said educators’ workload, the nature of their lesson delivery and other administrative work that is done in schools, demand a certain amount of flexibility which the new system, as it is being implemented in the so-called Pilot project or trial period will not allow.

It said teachers had been misled on the implications that the service would have on their work-life balance.

“Thus our directive for our members and prospective members remains, and  they are to refrain from sending their work to the government printing press and may use their previous preferred choices or school-based photocopying services, as long as they do not lose control of their work.”

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