NOUS Report: how hard are we working?

The Point V9N4

The NOUS report, which will be available soon to all members, takes a very complex issue and tries to break it down into drivers and enablers, as well as recommendations for system wide, school wide, and individual areas for focus and management.

Across all three roles – principal, deputy principal and teacher – the average total hours per week exceeded 40 hours in term time, and often exceeded 50 hours, with average hours generally higher across the board for primary principals. Over half of primary principals reported that they had worked between 51 and 60 hours during the previous week.

63% of teachers had worked between 41 and 60 hours in the previous week. Consistent with what reps and members have been reporting to us, assessment and feedback, and administrative tasks, is where activity focus and time has increased. A major component of the perceived increase in administration work was reporting on teaching and learning. Teachers reported that the volume, depth, and frequency of student reporting had increased in the last three years. Specialist teachers commented on the requirements of producing more reports, with more comments, for very high numbers of students. Continuous reporting invited continuous interaction with parents, with many teachers expressing concern about the level of engagement by parents, and no change in end of semester reporting requirements.

72% of teachers felt that technology had increased their workload over the last three years, reporting that it had made them easier to be contacted both during and after school hours by parents.

Excessive and ineffective meetings was one of the most commonly reported drivers of workload for deputy principals and teachers.
Meetings were either unnecessary, scheduled during release time or after hours, not purposeful or well-focused, prone to hijacking by others, or too concerned with compliance.

The report also alludes to how the relationship between schools and parents was more difficult to navigate. Catering for students with special needs or complex behavioural issues was putting pressure on everyone. For teachers it was additional planning and preparation, and often extra individual time with students. For school leaders, particularly female principals, the levels of abuse from parents were reported to have significantly increased. All three groups reported that the required documentation of learning adjustments for the NCCD had also significantly increased workload, particularly for teachers.

A key enabler of manageable workload was good leadership. Participants in the survey valued having leaders who valued them, and who provided them with autonomy. Clear direction, a positive workplace culture, positive relationships with parents, and trusted and dependable colleagues and support were all important.

On a system wide level, the report recommends:

  • Greater support and opportunities to collaborate across schools
  • Provision of extra support for administrative and non-teaching tasks
  • Implementation of consistent school policies and procedures
  • More empowerment of school principals and staff
  • More effective practices to leverage technology
  • Prioritising professional development.

At the school level, the report focussed on the need for much more purposeful communication and engagement, empowerment and support for teachers, and improved boundary setting around teacher work, for example responding to emails.

Where to from here?

It is the Working Party’s role this year to unpack the report, and to reach consensus on actions and recommendations for change. The four Dioceses are represented, and the IEU has four representatives – David Brear, Assistant Secretary, Maureen Shembrey, Principals’ Officer, Kylie Busk, Secondary Council Convenor, and Lou Prichard, Primary Council Convenor. The Union will continue to work with our reps and sub-branches to press for immediate change in some areas – such as emails, meetings and excessive reporting requirements. We’ll keep you posted about progress at the system level.