Workload campaign gains traction

The Department has responded to Federation’s campaign to prioritise teaching and learning with the release of a special edition of School Biz “Reducing the Administrative Burden” on 7 December, 2018.

After months of negotiations with Federation on the outcomes of the survey Understanding Work in Schools – the Foundation for Teaching and Learning, the Department has outlined an approach aimed at reducing administrative and compliance tasks and building more system-level support for schools.

The survey identified that the volume and rapidity of change under the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy, the loss of consultancy and other support, combined with increased administrative and compliance tasks hindered the ability of schools to focus on teaching and learning.

Federation pursued member’s demands:

  • for acknowledgement of their professional judgement by developing protocols for the collection, recording and analysis of data, to eliminate unnecessary tasks and manage others better
  • consultation prior to significant change to determine the educational volume and resources necessary for effective implementation
  • more effective system-level planning
  • more teacher consultancy support.

Article 2 of School Biz describes “a schools-centred governance model to improve the quality and reduce the number of roll-outs to schools”.

The model is based on “eight key principles” that Federation believes should apply to all work in schools in order to support the work that teachers value most, teaching and learning.

The eight key principles are:

  • Students at the centre
  • With schools, not to schools
  • Make a difference, not a change
  • Better than last time, every time
  • Common sense
  • Do it less, do it better
  • Keep it simple
  • School time counts.

These principles provide a sound base to examine and consult about not only “roll-outs” to schools but the work in schools that is considered to be managed in a way that is too time consuming or cumbersome and that requires less time and resources.

They are consistent with the concept of protocols around data or evidence collection or other work deemed to be managed in a way that is too time consuming or cumbersome or that requires too many resources that could be better focussed on supporting students and teachers.

Some work activities in schools may respond to various requirements but should be reviewed to ensure that the eight principles are applied.

If there is a view that current processes do not for example “keep it simple” or are not based on “common sense” these activities should be collaboratively reviewed to determine how the eight principles can be applied so that teachers are better supported.

The eight principles also point to the need for consultation about changes, reforms, initiatives, new policies and procedures. Each principle requires discussion around whether the change meets this standard.

Federation has developed a problem-solving guide for workplace committees to use when applying the principles to workload concerns.

The article has been included in the TeFED mailout to Federation Representatives in schools, along with a hard copy of the final report Understanding Work in Schools.

Article 2 also describes the Department’s planning process for a schedule of “roll-outs” to schools and the plan to have 17 weeks of “change-free” periods throughout the school year.

There is limited detail on this process but it appears to be an attempt to reduce the competing demands made on schools.

Article 4 responds in part to Federation’s call for more system-level support to schools particularly in relation to syllabuses with “30 new curriculum consultants”.

Federation will continue to negotiate with the Department to seek more support for schools.

Feedback from members about the matters raised in Article 1, which are aimed at reducing workload and providing more time for teaching, will assist in these discussions.