Australia’s teachers don’t get enough time to prepare for class, and student performance is suffering as a result, a new study shows.
The Grattan Institute report, titled ‘Making time for great teaching: How better government policy can help’ found that teacher workloads have blown out in recent decades and many teachers are now too stretched to do everything we ask of them.
A staggering 90% of teachers surveyed for the report said they don't have enough time to prepare effectively for classroom teaching and feel overwhelmed by everything they are expected to achieve.
“Teachers are particularly worried about supporting struggling students with complex needs. If teachers don’t have the time to do this well, student learning suffers,” Grattan Institute Education Program Director, Dr Jordana Hunter, told The Educator.
“After the disruptions of the last two years, most school leaders will be very focused on settling students into their regular routines and getting learning back on track. Leaders also have real concerns about managing teacher workloads.”
Dr Hunter said school leaders have a critical role in supporting their workforce to find the best ways to achieve strong outcomes for students while keeping the teaching job manageable.
Rather than wait for governments to embark on new reforms, Dr Hunter says they should act now.
“There’s an urgent need for governments to step up and investigate new ways to tackle teacher workloads. But school leaders can still make changes now that would go a long way to helping teachers,” she said.
“The first step is for the whole school community to agree that quality teaching and student learning is the number one priority. From that point, it becomes easier to make sure everything teaches are asked to do aligns with that.”
Dr Hunter said this might include cancelling unproductive meetings, cutting back on extra-curricular responsibilities or delegating more tasks such as yard duties to non-teaching staff, where possible.
“This will require some tough choices, but Grattan’s research shows it could open up two or more hours a week for teachers to focus on classroom,” she said.
“School leaders can also help teachers develop high quality, shared curriculum resources and lesson plans for their subjects, to reduce the need for teachers to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Grattan’s research shows this could save teachers a further three hours each week.”