Understanding the purpose and use of data
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 5, 10 July 2020, page no.10
In June, a number of principal members contacted their local QTU Organisers over workload implications arising from a regional office email directing them to collect data on students, enter the data in an Excel spreadsheet, and return the spreadsheet to regional office by Week 2 of Term 3.
The members believed that the email breached:
- the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools
- the Principles of Good Workload Management
- the certified agreement’s consultation requirement.
Officers of the QTU met with Darling Downs South West regional officers and reaffirmed the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools. The QTU has agreed terms that recognise schools' autonomy to make decisions about the purpose and use of data in their school data plans. The key learnings are worth noting.
School data plans
The Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools establishes the importance of schools developing a data plan endorsed by their local consultative committee (LCC). The LCC is the key mechanism for addressing workload at the school level, and school data plans can support this work. Data plans identify:
- what data is necessary
- how this data will inform teaching practice and school improvement
- what data is to be collected and when
- roles and responsibilities of teachers and other staff
- where this data is to be stored
- how this data will be represented, tracked and monitored
- the audience for the data and how this will be reported
- the resources to be allocated to the priorities identified in the data.
Put simply, teachers, heads of program, and school leaders should not collect data unless there is a clear purpose for doing so, and it is done in accordance with the agreed school data plan.
Formative assessment provides data to support the professional decision making of teachers and collegial conversations at the school level.
A school data plan might include regional representatives as an audience for data, but there is no obligation to do so. Regions will be able to access a range of fit-for-purpose data from OneSchool to inform region decision making.
In discussions with the region about this dispute, the QTU clearly stated it recognised the importance of reading programs in addressing educational disadvantage; however, it was an individual school’s choice if they wished to provide the data to region, and if it chooses to do so, this should be reflected in the school’s data plan. The provision of the data to region cannot be made mandatory.
Principles of Good Workload Management
The Principles of Good Workload Management contained in Schedule 6 of the certified agreement provide guidance for school leaders and the department when considering how initiatives impact on workload. The QTU referred to these particular principles in this dispute:
- Equitable distribution of workloads and open and transparent decision making.
- Provide flexibility and discretion in applying workload management to ensure delivery, work requirements and the effectiveness and efficiency of the department are met.
- Allocation of resources to ensure both the maintenance of workloads at a reasonable level and the delivery of a high-quality service.
Members expressed frustration about the impost on their workload of the initiative and the failure of region to allocate resources to minimise the workload of the initiative.
Being familiar with the Principles of Good Workload Management and using them in consultation processes aligned with initiatives will assist in mitigating workload creep. This is demonstrated by the use of the principles in this dispute.
The QTU’s continued campaign for the reduction of workload addresses workload at multiple levels, including national, systemic, regional, community, school, and individuals.
Relevantly, the Joint Statement on the Purpose and Use of Data in Queensland Schools includes the following: “It is the expectation of DET and the QTU that workload considerations will be assessed at each school and addressed through the school data plan. Additionally, systemic and regional initiatives will also take into consideration workload and resourcing implications for schools.”
Joint statements can be found on the QTU website under the publications tab. QTU Reps will also be able to access resources to support the work of the school’s LCC, and QTU Organisers can assist LCCs to develop a data plan.