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Minister Burch Failing To Address Rising Workloads

Rising workloads are the main reason teachers consider leaving the profession, new research from the AEU has found.

The ACT Government has drafted new guidelines outlining the core role of a teacher and explicitly listing the range of tasks teachers are not expected to perform. However, the April EA offer provides no resources or extra investment to actually deal with the issue of excessive workload. The Government is saying they will take this workload off of teachers, but giving no explanation of who will do it instead. The offer fails to adequately address the issue of increasingly excessive workload.

The AEU’s State of our Schools Survey for 2015, which surveyed over 2000 teachers, showed a rise in teacher workloads, with 42 per cent of teacher saying they worked more than 50 hours per week, and 23 per cent working over 55 hours per week.

While teachers were generally happy with their employment, high workloads were cited as the most significant consideration when thinking about leaving the profession. The survey found that 70 per cent of female teachers and 55 per cent of male teachers said workloads were the main issue that would lead them to leave teaching.

What is most concerning is that 73 per cent of teachers surveyed said their workload had increased in the past year. We know from international comparisons that Australian teachers are working longer hours than the OECD average, and are asked to perform more administrative and non-teaching work.

Teachers generally report a high level of satisfaction with their jobs, and see teaching as a long-term career, but the increasing workload is an issue that we need to address. More and more is expected of teachers in public schools, and they are not getting the resources and support to back them up.

Minister Burch herself has said “Unless the unnecessary admin work issue is addressed then any time saved will just be transferred from in-class to out-of-class work.” We agree with her on this. The AEU is offering a simple solution to the Government to deal with excessive workload – provide resourcing for additional staff to take on tasks which fall outside of teachers’ roles. We need an Education Minister who will stand up for educators, and Minister Burch is failing to do this.

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