Teacher duties 'hit education'

A TASMANIAN teachers' union has backed a report that has found increasing teacher responsibilities are affecting the quality of education that students receive.

Australian Education Union state branch president Terry Polglase said yesterday Tasmanian teachers had little chance of improving the education outcomes of students if they were continually hamstrung by growing federal and state government demands.

Speaking in response to the recent report Making time for great teaching by the Grattan Institute's school education program director Dr Ben Jensen, that found the quality of teaching suffers as more is expected of teachers, Mr Polglase said this was a constant stress the union heard often.

Dr Jensen's study found that ideally, teachers should get three extra periods a week to focus on professional learning, which could be found by reducing the time teachers spent on ineffective professional development, staff meetings and school assemblies.

The report also states governments should ensure professional learning funding is spent on developing strategies that are more focused.

Mr Polglase said teachers were constantly given greater responsibilities but less "local" decision making capacity.

"Teachers must be freed up from their face to face activity with students for them to be able to work together on quality professional development and shared learning tasks," he said.

"To find the time (three additional periods) for this, the only thing schools can do without buying the time for teachers, is to cut back on things teachers do that don't directly improve teaching and learning."

He said while the union had no issue with reassigning professional learning time, they were not in favour of increased class sizes, narrowing the curriculum or anything that compromised students being engaged in learning.

Mr Polglase said a program run at Hillcrest, Latrobe and Devonport primary schools last year, saw students finish early each Friday so staff had additional professional learning time. He said despite improved student results, the program was scrapped by the Education Department at the end of last year.

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