Unfortunate wording

FOLLOWING outrage over a memo sent late last year by the Education Department to school principals, Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall has acknowledged “some of the words might have been better chosen”.

In a memo issued on 11 December aimed at helping schools mitigate the impact of the Australian Education Union’s industrial action, which included refusing to work more than 38 hours a week from the first day of term one, it was suggested time teachers spent at camps outside the allocated 38 hours was “free time”.

The reaction to the memo was strong, with parents, teachers and principals reportedly astounded by the choice of words used.

Speaking to The Express after an industry and training providers forum in Traralgon on Thursday, Mr Hall said the memo served “purely as guidance to principals organising school camps”.

“There is no such thing as free time for the teachers; (the message which was meant to be conveyed) was that if they do not accept responsibility beyond the allocated work hours, the principal needs to make sure additional resources are available,” Mr Hall said.

“It was purely advice for the principals to exercise duty of care to supervise students on camp.”

He said having previously been a teacher, and having served as a parent helper, he understood while students had “free time” on their itineraries, it was not the case for teachers.

“(People providing supervision) at camps are on 24 hours a day,” he said.