The Cook Government has announced the first instalment of initiatives to reduce red tape, ease workloads, and bring about changes in schools to free teachers up to teach.
After instigating a review into red tape earlier this year, Education Minister Dr Tony Buti has considered the findings of two reports and looked into early research on the effective use of AI tools to overhaul policies and processes.
Recommendations from the Department of Education’s Understanding and Reducing the Workload of Teachers and Leaders in Western Australian Public Schools review and the State School Teachers’ Union’s Facing the Facts report have informed some of the initiatives.
Both reports identify the increasing complexities of teaching and the major drivers of workloads for staff, school leaders, and schools.
The Government is considering the use of AI already trialled by other Australian states to modernise and make more efficient professional learning, lesson planning, marking and development of assessments.
It can also be used to reduce teacher workload by simplifying and automating jobs such as excursion planning, meeting preparation, and writing general correspondence.
The department will work with the School Curriculum and Standards Authority and the independent and Catholic sectors to explore how AI can be applied to streamline curriculum planning and improve classroom teaching.
Additionally, through consultation and workshops with unions and associations, principals, teachers, and administrative staff, the department has identified immediate, short-term and longer-term strategies to lighten the load for public school educators. These include:
$2.26 million to be invested to trial 16 Complex Behaviour SupportCoordinators to work with public school leaders to ensure students with disabilities and learning challenges have tailored educational programs that best suit their individual needs;
an innovative pilot project jointly funded by State and Federal Governments to cut red tape by digitising paper-based school forms, providing consistent, accessible and efficient ways to share information online. Each form submitted saves 30 minutes of staff time compared to the paper-based version; and
Simplifying the process in relation to the exclusion of public school students and strengthening support to schools.
To further assist schools, the ‘Connect and Respect’ program, which outlines expectations regarding appropriate relationships with teachers, will be expanded.
This includes creating out-of-office templates which will set limits on when it is acceptable to contact staff after hours.
The aim is to reduce misunderstandings and conflict, and allow teaching staff to enjoy a better work-life balance.
Education Minister Dr Tony Buti said:”When I became Minister for Education, I committed to reducing administrative tasks that take teachers away from their students and out of their classrooms.
“I am strongly of the view that anything that gets in the way of teachers delivering high-quality lessons needs to be reduced to the absolute minimum.
“This is not a new issue or one unique to WA. However, we want to keep our capable, committed teachers.
“We are determined to create the right conditions for school staff to get on with their jobs.
“I asked the Director General of Education to examine all department policies, reporting and administrative demands on principals and teachers, with a view to making changes and this is the first part of our plan to keep teachers in classrooms.
“These initiatives will have a significant positive impact in making sure that the time and energy of our teachers is focused on helping every one of their students to succeed.
“That is what we want our teachers to do, and that’s also what our teachers want to do.”