Workload: Doing the right work
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 4, 28 May 2021, page no.8
Urangan State High School is a large school with more than 1,700 students and 130 teachers, situated in the Wide Bay region.
The school uses many strategies to make the most of the time teachers have available.
In terms of planning curriculum delivery, for example, in the past one teacher would take the lead and plan a unit of work for a team of up to 12 colleagues. There was no time for the team to plan or collaborate, and as a result, once handed the unit of work it was a case of “choose your own adventure” or “paint by numbers”. Our dedicated teachers were doing their best, but we knew there had to be a better way to operate in such a large school.
Being aware of the workload of their team, Urangan State High School QTU Reps, school leaders and teachers worked collaboratively to define the issues and to plan the next steps toward reducing workload.
Through working with a pilot team of dedicated teachers for over a year, we were able to design a process that allowed teachers to deliver the Australian Curriculum with precision and fidelity. The pilot saw significant increases in teacher capability and student outcomes. This was evident in the feedback from teachers who were able to trial the process, and in the school’s results too. The challenge that lay ahead was how to provide teachers and leaders with the time to “do the right work”.
Through an extensive and detailed consultation process, the school and its QTU members developed a structure and timetable that would give teachers an extra 170 minutes a week to collaborate, on top of their award non-contact time of 210 minutes. This time did not need the writing of supervision slips or even require teachers to stay past 3.00pm.
The school commenced this new timetable this term. Much preparation and planning has already been undertaken, with feedback from members regularly sought and addressed to date, with plans to provide continual feedback on implementation.
Members at our school made a choice to do things differently to bring about the change they were seeking in terms of a reduced workload. The outcome of this action by members means that teachers and heads of program at Urangan SHS now have the time and support to plan more deeply, precisely and collaboratively than ever before.