Local Schools, Local Decisions needs to go

Loud applause met Federation Deputy President Joan Lemaire’s statement, “We need to end Local Schools, Local Decisions,” at Annual Conference today.

Local Schools, Local Decisions has imposed excessive administrative, compliance and data collection requirements on teachers, who say they take up too much time, have no particular value and divert their focus away from students, Ms Lemaire said. The policy has also gutted the system of support from consultants and specialists.

Federation commissioned a research project, undertaken by a team of academics from Sydney and Curtin universities, which documents the nature and scope of work teachers are performing compared to five years ago, and its impacts on teaching and learning. The findings were presented to Annual Conference earlier today by Associate Professor Susan McGrath Champ and Dr Rachel Wilson.

Many teachers are struggling to preserve their focus on teaching and supporting students’ learning and wellbeing “in the face of new work activities that impose additional hours, work demands and personal burdens on them”, Understanding Work in Schools: The Foundation for Teaching and Learning states.

Informed by the teaching profession’s responses to the survey, which formed the basis of the research project, Annual Conference determined Federation will seek promises from state political parties for:

  • reduced face-to-face teaching time to allow for increased collaboration on planning, programming, assessing and reporting
  • more professional learning during school hours to support collaboration
  • more specialist teacher support for students with additional needs
  • teacher consultancy support for curriculum and program implementation
  • consultation prior to significant change, reforms or initiatives to ensure value and determine resources necessary for effective implementation
  • protocols for collection, recording and analysis of data to eliminate processes that are cumbersome and extremely time consuming
  • more effective system-level planning to prevent imposing competing workload demands on schools and/or unrealistic time frames

In response to a briefing provided by Federation’s Senior Officers to Education Minister Rob Stokes’s office about the initial results of the survey and research project, Mr Stokes wrote to Federation on 1 June stating he “shares concerns that a teacher’s core role of educating children in the classroom can be adversely affected by the administrative burden”.

The Department and Federation have scheduled monthly meetings for the remainder of 2018 to continue discussions on reducing the administrative burden on teachers, executives and principals. This work will be expanded to address the additional issues raised in the Understanding Work in Schools: The Foundation for Teaching and Learning report.

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