Boundaries are required for programing

The IEU has in recent times approached the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to clarify expectations in relation to programing. The IEU is seeking to establish a benchmark. While not seeking to intrude upon individual teacher judgement, it is critical IEU members have clarity about what is being sought.

Currently, expectations vary across sectors and between schools. The IEU understands an employer (either systemic or independent school) will have a particular overlay. This overlay should extend from what NESA determines rather than be an alternate additional structure that generates unnecessary duplication and consequent extra workload.

Programs sighted by the Union are taking on the appearance of individual lesson plans – some akin to explicit instruction rather than a working document which is a resource going forward. A program is a document which has continual additions and deletions stemming from teacher professional judgement. It does not have to document the complete role of what a teacher does.

Registered and Accredited Individual Non Government Schools (NSW) Manual

Evidence of compliance

A registered non government primary school must maintain documentation for each calendar year of the current registration period that includes:

Timetables of each year/class showing the allocation of time and teachers for each KLA
An overview of the school’s education program indicating
The scope and sequence of learning/units of work in relation to outcomes of NESA syllabuses for each KLA for each Year
Resources and equipment available for each KLA
An assessment plan indicating how students’ performance in each KLA is assessed, monitored and recorded
An overview of the process for reporting student achievement
Evidence relating to the quality of teaching and student learning.
For each calendar year, the school must maintain for each Year/class, until the end of that calendar year:
Teaching programs for each unit of work that correspond to those identified in the scope and sequence of learning/units of work
Samples of student work that relate to the teaching program for that year.

As outlined above (for primary schools) the requirements are within reason. It is the interpretation of the above statements by employers that enhances complexity and in turn teacher workload.

‘Reinventing the wheel over and over again’ is a frequently used phrase by teachers in relation to programing.

Put simply – a syllabus is what to teach and a program is evidence of what is being taught. Teachers test, assess and differentiate as a standard course of action. Excessive and unwarranted programing requirements are a deterrent to driving student improvement as teacher energy is diverted to compliance rather than being focused on teaching and learning. Programing is a critical area of teacher work but it should not be all consuming.

It is the legitimate work of the Union to place boundaries around professional duties. Member experiences regarding programing differ widely but it seems evident that NESA requirements are not excessive, but are used as cudgels. Consistency of expectations can only stem from NESA procedures. The Union will be seeking discussions with the systemic schools to progress understandings regarding programing and seek agreement on same.

School inspections

The IEU is making progress in discussions with NESA in relation to school inspections – both random and cyclical. The imperatives are teacher workload and clarity of what will be inspected. To date, NESA has indicated a typical random inspection would take about two hours and that the focus would be on documents available on a day to day basis at a school. See page 9 for what happened overseas when the inspection process got out of hand.

More to come about inspections in the next Newsmonth

Mark Northam
Assistant Secretary