Teachers to spend less time on reports,forms and playground duty

Teachers would waste less of their time writing reports,filling in excursion forms and supervising playgrounds under a new plan to redirect the hours they spend paper pushing and dealing with red tape towards more worthwhile work.

The NSW Department of Education has acknowledged teachers spend too much time on “low value” administrative tasks,and aims to reduce that by 20 per cent,or 40 hours a year,by the end of 2022.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the Quality Time Action Plan,to be put to teachers for feedback on Friday,would use technology and digital tools to make administrative work less time-consuming.

Teachers are spending too much time on red tape and paper pushing.

Teachers are spending too much time on red tape and paper pushing.Supplied

“While lesson planning,marking and reporting are core parts of the job,we can make these processes smarter,more intuitive and high-value rather than cumbersome,repetitive and wasteful,” she said.

“We know that quality teachers have the biggest impact on student outcomes – by streamlining and simplifying the work done outside of the classroom we can enhance the experience and outcomes within the classroom.”

The plan acknowledges that teachers waste too much time on paperwork,such as manually filling in forms,searching for classroom activities,and collecting data,and time could be better spent on their students.

The plan will focus on cutting red tape from areas such as curriculum resources,reporting to parents,and setting up extracurricular activities.

Proposals include streamlining communications from schools to parents,creating an online bank of classroom activities that are directly linked to the curriculum,and providing a place to store and share resources.

The department would update its expectations for reporting to parents,and establish a working group with parents to look at ways to simplify the process.

It has proposed a pilot program to look at reducing the mandated time teachers spend on activities such as lunch,recess and bus or transport duty.

It would also simplify the organisation of excursions,with digitised,pre-filled forms and lists of pre-approved providers. “The administration involved in organising these activities can be extensive,” the department’s plan said. “There are significant opportunities to learn from efficient processes that currently exist within schools.”

The plan comes as the teachers’ union campaigns for higher wages and more planning time,and a new OECD report found Australian teachers’ salaries had grown faster than their international counterparts.

Salaries for teachers with 15 years’ experience in Australia had grown by up to 19 per cent since 2005,compared with the international average,which has had growth of up to three per cent.

But Australia’s cost of living is among the highest in the world and schools operate for more weeks per year than most countries.

Given the cost of living differences,pay comparisons are usually based on comparable professions in Australia,rather than teacher salaries overseas. In NSW,teachers earn less than electricians,chiropractors and publicists at the peak of their careers.

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Jordan Baker is Education Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald

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