Riverbank Public welcomes new school admin staff

A new school administration program freeing up teachers is being rolled out at 130 schools in NSW. Luke Horton reports.

Image: Riverbank Public School Principal Jeanie Brown (fourth from left) with new school administration officers, from left, Alissa Baliva, Rebecca Roberts, Rebecca Mercimek Karissa Steiner and Nikki Fiocco.

Riverbank Public School has welcomed five school administration staff as part of a new program in NSW public schools.

The new roles are part of a program in 130 schools across northern Sydney, Lithgow and Port Macquarie to free up teachers to focus on their core job of teaching.

The staff will undertake a variety of administrative tasks previously done by teachers and educational leaders, ranging from chasing up permission slips for excursions to coordinating activities with parents.

Principal Jeanie Brown said the new staff would be an asset to the school, on Darug Country, in Sydney’s north-west.

“It’s a wonderful program, I welcome the initiative in such a large primary school, as it will improve daily school operations by reducing administration tasks for my executive and teachers,” she said.

“The role will include supporting teachers with daily classroom resources, organising events, carnivals notes, excursion packs, stocktakes, photocopying and data entry.”

Rebecca Mercimek is a former personal trainer and gymnastics coach. She said the chance to try something new attracted her to the role.

“I wanted to upskill myself in a new industry,” she said.

“This is a perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door to learn new skills, support teachers and meet new people.”

The program will explore how effective additional support roles in schools are in freeing up time for teachers and school leaders to lead, teach and better support students.

Along with capability enhancement and professional development for administrative and support staff, it will also look at how systems and processes in schools can be modernised, streamlined and simplified to create greater efficiencies for all school staff.

Karissa Steiner has worked in public schools in various roles for more than a decade. She said the role appealed to her as it directly supported teachers to do their work.

“I’m so excited about this fantastic opportunity and feel it will make such a difference to the school moving forward,” she said.

“Working with such a great a team is incredibly rewarding. I look forward to bringing my previous experiences to this newly created role to assist the executive staff with everyday tasks so they can concentrate more on the daily operations of the school and, most importantly, the students and teachers. ‘Learning to live - Living to Learn!’ as the school motto says.”  

The new program aligns with staff feedback and Grattan Institute research, which recommends finding better ways to use the wider school workforce, including support and specialist staff.

The findings from the program will provide valuable information on how to improve administration functions in all schools across the state.

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