Increase in class time for 'executive' teachers

Up to 2500 executive teachers will spend more time in the classroom.

The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of bags hanging on a wall. The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of bags hanging on a wall.

Up to 2500 executive teachers will spend more time in the classroom under a plan by the NSW Government to address the teacher shortage and the proliferation of cancelled and merged classes – a move that could add the equivalent of more than 500 full-time teaching roles.

With a survey revealing in October that more than 10,000 merged and cancelled classes were occurring in NSW public schools every day, the government has moved swiftly to review the hours of existing school leaders spend teaching to maximise class coverage for students in public schools.

The NSW Department of Education review into executive teachers found almost two thirds of the 2500 teachers were not teaching timetabled classes at all, while the remainder were teaching fewer hours than the proposed minimum hours needed.

More than half of the deputy principals in NSW public schools are not currently teaching timetabled classes.

To help address the teacher shortage, Deputy Principal teachers will be expected to teach at least one day a week from the start of next year increasing to 2.5 days a week.

Head Teachers and Assistant Principals will be expected to teach at least 3 days a week, increasing to 4 days a week, as allowed under the existing industrial agreements.

The addition of minimum teaching hours for teachers in executive roles across the state is expected to add the equivalent of more than 500 full-time teaching roles from the cohort of experienced and effective teachers.

The review found many were teaching below industrial agreements, a legacy of the former government’s failed Local Schools, Local Decisions policy.

The policy allowed schools to use their flexible funding to release teachers from face-to-face teaching with little oversight. While many schools can justify this on a case-by-case basis, seen overall, the system lost many experienced teachers from the classroom and it created too many vacancies.

To free up some of the most experienced teachers, the Department will help schools redeploy work to skilled school staff members in administrative and other support roles.

With timetables already being written for next year, principals have been asked to apply the new minimum teaching hours initially where possible. The Department will consult with the NSW Teachers Federation, the Public Service Association, principals and staff from Term 1, 2024, with full implementation expected by early 2025.

The review also recommended that a freeze on new additional executive positions funded by schools remain in place until the review, which will also examine the proliferation of other executive teacher positions, concludes in mid-2024.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“Executive teachers have a vital role to play in our schools – their experience, leadership and support for students is unquestioned.

"At a time when we have 10,000 lessons a day without a casual teacher, freeing up our leading teachers to do the work only they can do by taking more classes is vital to improving student outcomes.

“We’ve acknowledged the incredible work our teachers do through the most significant salary increase in almost three decades and by implementing strategies to decrease the burden of administration.

“We’re confident that refining executive teaching positions – which were always a mixed role – and relieving them of administrative tasks will lead to better student outcomes through more teaching time across the state.”

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