A report from by Dr Ben Jensen from the Grattan Institute, an “independent think tank dedicated to developing high quality public policy for Australia’s future”. This report looks into how schools can provide teachers with more time, so that they are more able to develop skills and improve their teaching practice. The report makes the case that loading teachers with additional duties or expectations not directly related to teaching, such as yard duty supervision, extra-curricular activities, ineffective professional development and staff meetings results in less time available to teachers to improve their practice and provide the best educational opportunities for students. The report states that “we must be explicit that every time we ask teachers to perform extra activities we are decreasing the quality of teaching and learning in schools”.
I think this is an interesting premise, and it is true that teachers are given a number of extra responsibilities that are not necessarily related to improving teaching and learning in schools. However, I do believe strongly in the value of extra-curricular activities (one example of extra expectations of teachers addressed in the report) as part of a balanced educational experience, and also as an opportunity to develop relationships, two things which I think do contribute to improved educational outcomes.
With all aspects of what we do in schools it is important to stop and ask “how is this improving outcomes for the students?”
For more information about Grattan Institute visit http://grattan.edu.au.