WWAM: Still time to make a change

During WWAM, schools will have taken the opportunity to review local level strategies to address workload and wellbeing. The QTU recognises that both are linked and one cannot be addressed without the other.

When discussing workload with teachers, the QTU has asked them to focus on their key areas of responsibility. Quite simply, teachers are asked to consider if the role of a teacher is to plan, teach, assess, report and undertake PD and to consider what this looks like for them.

It is accepted that there are requirements under each of these responsibilities aligned to the P – 12 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework (CARF), QCAA requirements in curriculum areas, the school’s agreed pedagogical framework, the agreed scheme of collegial engagements, the school’s data plan, mandatory training and QCT registration requirements etc.

However, it's when teachers consider what they are “expected” to do that workload raises its head.

The question teachers are then asked to consider is what they do beyond these key responsibilities and why? Do they undertake these additional activities because they have agreed to do them or for another reason? Which of these activities/tasks add value to the experience as a teacher and which could they stop doing with little/no impact on students or being an effective teacher, and what impact would not doing these things have on workload? Essentially teachers are asked to consider how they can “declutter” workload.

When discussing this approach with school leaders, they have been asked what their key responsibilities may be. The response in the majority has been “to support teachers to ensure that the planning, teaching, assessing, reporting and development happens”. The tasks that align to this, though, are more extensive, because the requirements imposed on schools and consequently school leaders continue to change with limited notice. So what can be done to help address school leader workload?

In 2017, the QTU has released the Principal Support and Involvement Strategy. This has included the development of resources to assist in navigating the IR landscape, offering principal specific training in IR for administrators and legal issues, and negotiation with DET to review mandatory training modules. Currently, the QTU is working on a joint communication regarding student disciplinary absences, something that continues to cause significant issues in some regions across the state. Additionally, progress is being made on the development of a policy focused on occupational violence and how schools can be supported when subject to abuse online. The Union recognises that these issues are, for many school leaders, the tip of the iceberg, consequently, feedback from school leaders following WWAM of their workload issues, which may differ from classroom teachers, will be invited so that we can work together to support principals to regain some workload balance.

There is no denying that November is a busy time in schools, but in reality, is there any time in the school year that is not busy? If we don’t stop to consider workload and wellbeing at some point in the year, nothing will change. Poster campaigns look good and make us feel good for a while, but they generate little action. Consequently we should never be “too busy” to talk about and take action to address workload and wellbeing.

Kate Ruttiman                                                                                                                      Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 8, 3 November 2017, p10