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IEU Speaks on New School Initiatives to Satisfy Workload Impact Test

  • IEU Speaks

IEU members continue to highlight the driving factor behind staff shortages and record levels
of teacher burnout – unsustainable workloads and work intensification continue to force
dedicated teachers from their profession.

Our teachers need a circuit breaker to reset work expectations and end the flow of additional
tasks and add-on duties. The first step is to ensure that any new initiative or project is subject
to a teacher workload impact assessment.

Renewed efforts to recruit more teachers into schools will serve as only stop-gap measures until we
force a major employer rethink on workload. One in five new teachers are leaving their career in their
first three years. Less than 30% of teachers plan to stay in teaching until retirement age.

An important safeguard against growing administrative tasks and compliance red tape is to ensure
that any proposed initiative or reform is tested against a teacher workload assessment. The federal
government is on the right track with their requirement for such assessments to apply to changes in
the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA).

But we need to go further and extend a comprehensive work impact lens beyond just the NSRA.

All government and employer initiatives should be subject to the same test. Unless a proposal is
neutral in terms of workload impacts, or includes confirmed workload offsets, it should not proceed.

Our union has provided detailed advice to the government in developing the NSRA workload
assessment tool and the areas where the tool is badly needed such as data collection, learning
targets and new student health and wellbeing projects. Our union’s public submission calls for the
tool to be extended across all school operations.

An effective and enforceable workload impact assessment should include:

▪ A clear understanding that any new initiative that negatively impacts teacher workload, or fails to
mitigate or offset workload impacts, will not proceed.
▪ New initiatives should be reviewed against existing activities to ensure they don’t duplicate work
already being done. Can current initiatives be re-purposed or altered for the same outcome?
▪ Consideration of whether additional teachers, support staff or resources are needed to implement
the initiative. Will teachers need more release time or professional development time?
▪ Following the initial implementation, what medium or long-term support measures will be needed
by teachers to maintain the initiative?

Workload escalates over time as task overlays are added and nothing is taken away, we need
long-term planning and meaningful employer commitments to break the workload cycle.