Every teacher's New Year resolution: to reduce their after-hours workloads!

Click to enlarge. Scroll down to read Zachary’s letter.

In December I posted an article on how teachers might implement radical/innovative ways at a local level to reduce their workloads.

But change needs to happen at a macro level also. Now, finally, after a lot of raging against the machine by teachers and teachers' advocates, education leaders are starting to take notice and be proactive! For the first time that I can recall decisions are being made at the top level to reduce teachers' and principals workloads.

For example, a recent statement released by the NSW DoE said: "Every minute that our teachers, principals and schools can focus on their core business of supporting improved student outcomes is critical."

And, to use design thinking parlance, the department's 'Driving Question (DQ)' for 2019 is 'How can we maximise time for teaching and learning?'

To help that cause the NSW DoE no longer requires principals and teachers to:

  • Complete the annual School Profile

  • Upload evidence in the department’s online policy compliance A-Z Tool

  • Undertake annual compliance activities - tree audits, emergency management equipment and bushfire management

  • Pre-approve purchases on pcards by teachers and administration staff

  • Validate each individual Teacher Identified Professional Development entry in a proficient teacher's NESA account.

Planned improvements for 2019 include:

  • Introducing single sign-on to reduce the number of times you have to log into different applications

  • Rolling out 1:1 support for schools to complete their 2019 budget

  • Improving myPL through the development of simple dashboards, improved search functionality and simplification of course creation

  • Making accreditation management easier through the provision of a customised report, allowing Principals/Deputy Principals to easily view the accreditation status of all their staff

  • Working with schools and teachers to co-design improvements to MyPL – making it easier to find and book courses.

Further, one of the departments projects from this year is to "comprehensively review policies... to reduce the administrative, management and compliance burden on our principals and teachers so they can spend more time on learning, teaching and leading".

Some of the initiatives listed above will save minutes, but some could potentially save many hours. It will all help to turn the teaching profession away from the cliff that it has been heading towards over the past five years.

Further encouraging news is that NSW education minister Rob Stokes has responded to findings from the 2018 research project “Understanding Work in Schools” and has instigated a working group aimed at "reducing the administrative burden on schools". (Thank you NSW Teachers Federation!)

Only six months ago all I could see was a cliff on a bleak horizon. Now I can see a glimmer of light.

I'm hoping things are looking as promising for teachers and principals in other jurisdictions too.

Happy new school year to all!

James Phelps

Click to enlarge

Dear Mr Stokes,

Hi, my name is Zachary Miller and I’m ten years old and live with my family on the northern beaches. 

I am writing to you today to complain about teachers getting too much work and the effect it has on their family.

My mum and step dad both work full time as teachers in public schools.  Every day all they do in their free time is do work, this is bad because I spend less time with them on the weekends and they cannot help me with hard home work.  Also, they spend all their time working when they should be sleeping and get grumpy the next day.

A typical day starts at 5am when mum gets up to do marking, she then leaves the house at 6.20am to go to school.  I must make my own breakfast and sometimes must get friends to give me a lift to school.  At the end of school, I must meet mum at her school and help clean up the classroom and wait for her to finish her lessons at 5pm.  We then come home and she must start marking again at 6.30pm until I go to bed, she keeps going until 12 midnight sometimes…its crazy!  My step dad is always on his computer doing hard work and has no time at all to spend with me.

My parents can’t help me with any homework as they are busy helping other kids.  How is this fair?  What about the teacher’s kids like me?  They can’t come to my sports days because they are in class with other kids.  They can’t work from home like other parents.

I would like to see a better life work life balance for my parents and for my family.  The real working hours for teachers needs to be recognised and changes need to be made so that I can have my parents back.

I’m happy to come talk to you at any time about this issue.

Thank you for tacking the time to read my letter.


Zachary miller