How NSW plans on transforming its school system

How NSW plans on transforming its school system

The NSW Government has unveiled a new, bold four-year “roadmap” to improve student outcomes and strengthen the teaching profession across the state.

NSW Education Minister and Deputy Premier Prue Car said the initiative, dubbed ‘Our Plan for NSW Public Education’, sets out a “clear direction for building an outstanding and equitable education system, informed by those best placed to understand how to improve student outcomes”.

Car said 14 principal networks and 327 principals helped to develop the plan, while more than 2,000 principals facilitated feedback sessions with their schools and provided online responses.

“The plan has a focus on developing and supporting principals and school leaders. By addressing staffing shortages, reducing staff workload, and fostering staff wellbeing, principals are supported from the bottom up,” Car told The Educator.

“With more explicit advice on teaching practice and transparency about the new system, principals can drive continuous improvement, consistency, and standards in the classroom.”

Car said “new, clear, focussed, and system-wide measures” will measure the success of the plan as it progresses.  

“At a school level, improvement measures from 2024 will include a continued focus on reading, numeracy, attendance, and quality pathways [including HSC achievement] in secondary schools,” Car said, adding that schools can set additional improvement measures, which are specific to their student cohorts.

“Performance against system targets is reported in the Department’s annual report and publicly available budget papers. At a school level, these measures will inform strategic planning for schools.”  

Showing teachers that their work is valued

In 2021, a major inquiry into the teaching profession in NSW found there had been “profound changes” in the volume and complexity of teachers’ work since the previous inquiry in 2004, and that this had led to “unsustainable workloads to the detriment of teachers’ core responsibilities of teaching and learning”.

Recognising this, the Minns Government has moved to improve support for the NSW teaching workforce across a range of key areas, including reducing administrative workloads, strengthening teachers’ job security, and boosting salaries.

In September, the Government struck a deal with the teachers’ union that secured a historic pay rise for the state’s 95,000 teachers – the largest seen in the profession in almost three decades.

“Secure employment gives our teachers peace of mind and sends a strong message that their work is valued,” NSW Education Department Secretary, Murat Dizdar told The Educator.

“In addition, more than 16,000 temporary teachers and support staff have secured permanent positions, providing them with the financial certainty they need to make significant life decisions such as buying a house or starting a family.”

Improving work-life balance for teachers

Dizdar noted the feedback of educators who have been feeling overwhelmed by intense workloads, saying this is another area the Department has taken steps to address by cutting red tape and creating hundreds of school administration positions.

“These measures free up teachers so they can do their most impactful work in the classroom. All of this is helping to restore faith in the profession and make NSW the state of choice for teachers.”

Another key part of the government’s plan, says Dizdar, is delivering new and upgraded facilities to ensure every student has access to high quality, inclusive, sustainable learning environments at their local public school.

Dizdar said the Government has committed $1.4bn over four years towards 54 school projects and programs across regional NSW, including the new $222m Schools for the Regions Fund.

“A plan is also being developed to deliver additional new and upgraded schools in fast-growing areas, backed by an audit of enrolment growth across NSW,” Dizdar told The Educator.

“These strategies will help to ensure schools provide productive environments for learning and development; are safe and inclusive; and help to attract and retain high-quality teachers – especially in high need locations.”