Right support is key to unlocking teacher time

The future of education and addressing the challenges of the teaching workforce dominated discussion at today’s Schools Summit.

Image: Ready to meet the challenge: Journalist Jordan Baker questions NSW Education Chief People Officer Yvette Cachia at the Schools Summit.

A firm commitment to clear the way for teachers to do what they do best – teach – was front and centre at the Sydney Morning Herald Schools Summit today.

In her keynote address, Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said more needed to be done to reduce red tape and unnecessary administrative work for teachers.

“I see your ambition both for your career and for the students you teach and I want to find better ways to support that ambition,” Ms Mitchell said.

She said some progress had been made with the provision of new resources and assessments, and the removal of unnecessary paperwork and processes.

However, increasing time for teachers would be one of the department’s “top priorities for the year, with a particular focus on transforming support services and systems to bring them into the 21st century”.

Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson, in her keynote speech, said teacher surveys had shown better support was the number one issue for teachers.

“Teachers’ time can be freed up by having the right people in the right school roles,” Ms Harrisson said.

“That’s why we’re bringing in psychologists, nurses, Student Support Officers and business managers. To let teachers, teach.

“But on its own, that isn’t enough. We need to keep pushing on improving that support.”

Ms Harrisson said the past two years dealing with COVID-19 and learning from home had necessitated the department being largely reactive.

“I want to see us rebound. I want us to be on the front foot challenging things,” she said.

Ms Harrisson said the department had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink the way schools operated.

“I see it as an opportunity because it requires us forging a system that seeks constant improvement and better working conditions, which will resonate for generations.”

Ms Mitchell said the department would publish its progress through regular updates of the Quality Time Action Plan report.

“The focus of our Quality Time Action Plan isn’t just about giving more time to teach, it’s also about giving teachers more time to plan and leverage all the great data at their fingertips,” the Minister said.

“It’s about getting rid of low value or duplicative tasks so teachers can focus on those that matter.

“It’s about making sure that the thousands of additional teachers employed locally are being utilised in a way that will make a difference.”

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