Workloads slashed for NSW teachers

Workloads slashed for NSW teachers

The NSW Government has announced the halving of more than 70 mandated changes to policies and processes that were due to roll out in Term 2, to only those that were essential and have minimal impact on frontline teachers.

The state’s teachers will also benefit from a ‘pause and review’ of all pilots and programs starting in Term 2, on which the Department will consult teachers regarding which ones to continue.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the review has looked at ways to “remove, simplify or digitise tasks, with a focus on culling administrative tasks that add no benefit to student outcomes.”

Among the changes stopped are activities relating to the surveying of teachers, the reporting of information, and administrative work, such as the use of the principal development framework, utilities reporting, telephony changes and a homework policy review.

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car will hold a roundtable in coming weeks with all key partners in public education, including the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF), to seek agreement on future actions targeting the workload challenge and to lift the status of the profession.

Minister Minns said further actions to support teachers will include expanding the school counselling service, strengthening wellbeing support for teachers to address burnout, improving the way schools support students with additional needs and simplifying reporting to parents.

“We want teachers in front of students in classrooms, not bogged down with admin work. We have too many burdensome programs and admin tasks that is resulting in unsustainable workloads for teachers,” Minister Minns said.

“We’ve made good on a promise to reduce admin hours for teachers. And we know we have more to do.”

‘This is just the start’

Minister Car said the review acknowledges and responds to the concerns of hundreds of teachers, principals and support staff she has spoken to about the challenges they face every day.

"We've heard loud and clear that teachers are swamped with endless requirements to implement policy updates that cut into the time they should be spending with students and planning lessons,” Minister Car said.

"We need to act urgently to address this, which is why I have told the department to make changes right away to support our teachers. This is just the start.”

Full-time teachers are working on average 150% (60.1 hours per week) of their contracted working hours, according to the Australian Teacher Workforce Data report. These long hours are being largely driven by the 219 policy documents teachers must complete for compliance reporting.

A survey conducted by the NSW Parliament found an overwhelming 92% of teachers believe reducing administrative workloads is the best solution to address the crisis that has seen more than 28,000 permanent staff leave the state’s public schools between 2010-2021.

“The Government's announcement aimed at reigning in teacher and principal workload that has been spiralling out of control is welcome,” NSWTF president, Angelo Gavrielatos, told The Educator.

“We are confident that this is but the beginning of further action to come. Teachers and principals must be freed from a crippling administrative burden to allow them to focus on that which matters most; teaching and learning.”