A life jacket with holes- : a case study of 'temporary engagement' : a strategy used by Education Queensland to employ beginning secondary teachers

Tromans, Carla (2001) A life jacket with holes- : a case study of 'temporary engagement' : a strategy used by Education Queensland to employ beginning secondary teachers. Professional Doctorate thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This research investigated the impact of Education Queensland's employment policy and practices for beginning secondary teachers appointed on temporary engagement. The context was the public secondary school sector within the state of Queensland, Australia. The study was set within a context of the changing nature of work from full-time permanent employment towards casual, fixed-term contracts, temporary and part-time employment, a trend reflected in the employment patterns for teachers within Australia. Two broad categories of literature relating to the research problem of this thesis were reviewed, namely the beginning teacher and permanency or tenure. The focus in the research literature on beginning teachers was the professional experiences of teachers within the classroom and school. There was a paucity of research that considered the working and industrial conditions of temporary employment for beginning teachers or the personal and professional implications of this form of employment. The review of the context and literature was conceptualised as a Beginning Temporary Teacher Theoretical Framework which served to inform the study. Using a qualitative case study methodology, the research techniques employed for the thesis were semi-structured interview and document analysis. A simultaneously conducted research project in which the researcher participated entitled 'Winning the Lottery? Beginning Teachers on Temporary Engagement' foregrounded this thesis in terms of refining the research question, contributing to the literature and in the selection of the participants. For this case study the perspectives of four distinct yet inter-related categories of professionals were sought. These included four beginning secondary teachers, three school administrators, a Senior Personnel Officer with Education Queensland, and a representative from the Queensland Teachers' Union. The research findings indicated that none of the beginning teachers or other professionals viewed starting a career in teaching on temporary engagement as the ideal. The negative features identified were the differential treatment received and the high level of uncertainty associated with temporary employment. Differential treatment tended to indicate 'less' entitlements, in terms of access to induction and professional development, recreational and sick leave, acceptance by and expectations of other colleagues, and avenues of redress in grievance cases. Moreover, interviews indicated a high level of uncertainty in terms of starting within the teaching profession, commencing at a new school, and a regular income. In addition, frequent changes in schools and/or cohorts of students exacerbated levels of uncertainty. The beginning teachers reported significantly decreased motivation, self-esteem and sense of belonging, and increased stress levels. There was an even more marked negative impact on those beginning teachers who had experienced a higher number of temporary engagements and schools in their first year of teaching. Conversely, strong staff support and a reasonable length of time in the one school improved the quality of the beginning teachers' experiences. The overall impact of being on temporary engagement resulted in delayed permanent position appointments, decreased commitment to particular schools and to Education Queensland as the employing authority, and for two of the beginning teachers, it produced a desire to seek alternative employment. The implementation of Education Queensland's policies relating to working conditions and entitlements for these temporary beginning teachers at the school level was revealed to be less than satisfactory. There was a tendency towards 'just-in- time' management of the beginning teacher on temporary engagement. The beginning teachers received 'less-than-messages' about access to and use of departmental documentation, support through induction and professional development, and their transition from temporary to permanent employment. To ensure a more systematic, supportive and inclusive process for managing the temporary beginning teacher, a conceptual framework entitled 'Continuums of Tension' was developed. The four continuums included permanent employment - temporary employment; system perspective - individual perspective; teaching as a profession - teaching as a job; and the permanent beginning teacher - university graduate. The general principles of the human resource policies of Education Queensland were based on a commitment to permanent employment, a system's perspective, viewing teaching as a profession and a homogeneous group of permanent beginning teachers. Contrasting with this, the beginning teacher on temporary engagement tended to operate from the position of temporary employment and a perspective that was individually based. Their priorities therefore included the 'occupational' aspects of being a temporary teacher striving to become permanent. Thus there existed a tension or contradiction between the general principles of human resource policies within Education Queensland and the employment experiences of beginning teachers on temporary engagement. The study proposed three actions for resolution to address the aforementioned tensions. The actions included: (a) the effective provision and targeted communication of information; (b) support, induction and professional development; and (c) a coordinated approach between Education Queensland, Queensland Teachers' Union, the Universities and the beginning teacher. These actions are fm1her refined to include: (a) an induction kit to suppm1 the individual through the pre-employment to permanent employee phases, (b) an extrapolation of the roles and responsibilities of Education Queensland personnel charged with supporting the beginning temporary teacher, and (c) a series of recommendations to effect a coordinated approach amongst the key stakeholders. The theoretical and conceptual frameworks have provided a means of addressing the identified needs of the beginning teacher on temporary engagement. As such, this study has contributed to the research literature on teacher employment and professionalism and aims to provide a beginning temporary teacher with managed professional and occupational support.

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ID Code: 36656
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Supervisor: Brannock, Jillian M. & Singh, Parlo
Additional Information: Presented to the Centre for Language, Literacy and Diversity, School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education, Queensland University of Technology.
Keywords: High school teachers Selection and appointment Queensland, High school teachers Tenure Queensland, beginning teacher, teacher tenure, casualisation, temporary engagement, teaching contracts, induction and professional development, broken patterns of employment, temporary employment, temporary teachers, permanency, thesis, doctoral
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Carla Tromans
Deposited On: 22 Sep 2010 13:05
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2016 23:55

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