Teacher workloads taking heavy toll – new report

Teacher workloads taking heavy toll – new report

The largest state-wide survey of teachers shows that an overwhelming number of NSW teachers are being swamped with administrative demands, threatening their core job of teaching.

According to the data, 91% reported administrative demands introduced by the Department of Education were a hindrance to their core job while 89% cited high workloads and 86% said compliance with state policies was a hindrance.

Lead author, Dr Susan McGrath-Champ, from the University of Sydney said the report – Commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF), the survey of 18,000 primary and secondary public school teachers – marks the first time teachers have been comprehensively asked about their experience of schools as places of work as well as learning.

“Our survey shows that in schools, teachers are confronted with the monster of datafication, or an ever-growing mountain of data and compliance requirements,” McGrath-Champ said.

The report also found that teachers work an average 54 hours per week (43 hours at school and 11 hours at home) in order to meet these administrative and data collection demands.

Dr Rachel Wilson and Dr Meghan Stacey from the University’s School of Education and Social Work, and Dr Scott Fitzgerald from Curtin University Business School, co-authored the report.

“The complex demands on teachers’ workloads have the potential to negatively impact the quality of teaching and learning,” Dr Wilson said.

This is a worrying trend for the future of the education system, and our country.”

Dr Wilson said the researchers found teachers’ daily activities were dominated by work relating to getting to know students, planning and engaging in teaching and learning to meet the diverse needs of students.

However, she pointed out that other frequent activities were more diverse and dominated by administrative duties, often involving paperwork, data and reporting.

There was also a widely-held sentiment among teachers that data collection impedes their core job.

One participant said: “The amount of paperwork I need to complete is totally unachievable”, while another noted, “Data and paperwork for accountability has increased exponentially.”

Dr McGrath-Champ said the need for systemic change is urgent.

“The weight of evidence within this report makes it abundantly clear that teachers as a whole are subject to new and overwhelming demands imposed by the current policy landscape,” she said.

“Teachers are calling out for more time within the school day to be dedicated to collaboration in core, teaching-related activities like lesson planning, getting to know students and adjusting classwork for students’ individual needs.”