teacher workload

From global to local – how the world shapes learning

Here is another of our intermittent blogs during the #AARE2022 conferenceIf you want to cover a session at the conference, please email jenna@aare.edu.au to check in. Thanks!

This blog, covering two sessions, was put together by Jess Harris at the University of Newcastle at the Teachers and Teaching Priority Research Centre

Kitty Janssen (top left), Russell Cross and Thi Kim Anh Dang (top right photo), Matthew Harper (middle left), Jacquie Briskham (bottom photo)

Jacquie Briskham: Prioritising Casual Relief Teachers through the provision of quality professional learning to Advance Teaching Capacity and Wellbeing

Casual teachers are in high demand. Despite the complexity of casual teaching, casual teachers have limited access to professional development, support and mentoring. Furthermore, casualisation can impact teachers’ career progressions, when they are competing for jobs with other teachers, who have been provided support, mentoring and ongoing professional development.

Jacquie reported that casual teachers are often left with superficial or simplified lessons that they have to redesign in order to help give engaging lessons.

This project engaged 32 casual teachers in Quality Teaching Rounds, with the support of the NSW Department of Education. Importantly, casuals were paid for their time, while they participated in four days of Rounds. After 6 days of professional development, there was a clear impact on the quality of teaching, the confidence of casual teachers and their morale. One of the highlights within the findings was that the provision of collaborative professional development supported casual teachers to feel a sense of belonging. They were able to develop a support network of colleagues with similar experiences. The network has endured beyond the project, with casual teachers supporting each other in schools and discussing their teaching practice. The principals noticed that QTR prompted casual teachers to engage in discussions about their teaching, a professional discourse that ‘wasn’t there previously’. Engagement in the PD has resulted in increased employment for many of the participants.

There is a call for more effective PD policy for all teachers, not just those who were in permanent positions. Responding to a question, Jacquie indicated that the development of networks for casual teachers was critical to supporting them to build a sense of belonging in the school and in the profession. There was some discussion about how you might take the program of PD for casual teachers to scale. There are issues with remuneration and across educational jurisdictions.

A question was raised about how to support casual teachers in high school settings, particularly when they were teaching out of field. Jacquie reported that the teaching standards were not as easily applied as a pedagogical model, like the Quality Teaching model, for improving every lesson. 

Dr Thi Kim Anh Dang and Assoc. Prof. Russell Cross: Globalizing Teacher Education through English as a Medium of Instruction: Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory Perspective.

Drawing on their latest publication, they look at context and teaching and teacher education research, particularly how globalised teacher education has been supported through the use of English as the language of instruction.

Globalisation has led to educational contexts that are no longer bounded in space. Rather they are shaped by global, national and local features of teaching and teacher education. The impact of COVID is used as an example of how global elements have reshaped teacher learning and practice across the globe. 

Dr Dang and Associate Prof Cross argue that there are still very limited theoretical tools for systematically analysing the role of context on teacher learning and practice. They draw on Vygotsky’s theory of genetic development across histories and times. This theory is empirical, empirically bound and theoretically rich.

There is a need for the articulation of globalised space in education. Global artefacts, including online social spaces, privilege the virtual and extend global imaginaries, which can transform our understanding of schooling, teaching, and teacher development. 

They demonstrate the utility of their theoretical framework through an examination of English Language instruction in Vietnam and how practices are shaped at these global, national and local levels.

Student perception of learning and wellbeing within and beyond the classroom

Saurabh Malviya: Continuity of Learning in the child’s everyday in outside school hours care

What does the community think of after school care educators? And how do children think about learning in and out of school. In Australia, the number of children attending Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) has doubled since 2005. While there is a national quality framework for OSHC, there is widespread variation in the level of educational practice embedded in programs. 

This study examines children’s perceptions of how OSHC as a place for developing their identity and extending their learning through play-based learning. This phenomenological study looks at one OSHC program with children ranging in ages from 5 – 12. The themes emerging from the research demonstrate that OSHC and the relationships with educators support children’s social and emotional learning and understandings of their agency.

In the question and answer session, there was a discussion about the potential unintended consequences of examining the educational outcomes of OSHC programs. Do we want that part of a child’s day to be seen as an extension of schooling? Or is it beneficial to the professionalisation of OSHC to understand the types of learning that they support.

Matthew Harper: The subject (still) matters: Uncovering student experience in a case study of high school mathematics and drama

Maths and drama are positioned at different ends of the curriculum spectrum, with maths being considered a serious pursuit while drama is seen as a school subject where students go to play and explore. Matthew Harper takes an in-depth look at these two school subjects, particularly how students perceive maths and drama and characterise their learning in these subjects. Drawing data from four classes (two maths and two drama) in one school, the study involves 51 lesson observations, two interviews with each teacher, student focus groups and visual illustrations of the subject areas.

In focus groups, students were asked to draw an illustration and asked to describe their experiences in either maths or drama lessons. These illustrations and interviews were analysed, using a Bernsteinian lens, to demonstrate the different forms of framing between the subjects. 

Students often drew and described their engagement in maths as passive and teacher driven, whereas drama is a place where students can test things out, try, fail and ‘escape’ the traditional classroom. These drawings and interviews showed powerful understandings of their experience with the content and experiences of learning in different classrooms and subject areas.

The discussion after the study was focused on some of the study’s limitations, in examining only one teacher in each school. The students’ drawings and interviews, however, reflected a specific understanding of how they believe a subject should be taught. The teachers’ individual approaches could be partly responsible for these ideas, it could be that the subject matters.

Dr Kitty Janssen: Improving adolescent sleep: The appropriateness of six potential strategies for secondary schools

Media reports suggest that Australian adolescents are sleep deprived, with reports of 7-10 teenagers not getting enough sleep. Despite a lack of evidence, school leaders from two Australian schools reported a need to build more education and support for students to understand their sleep needs. The approach to health and wellbeing in schools is complex, balancing individual student needs and supporting wellbeing. As a result, teachers need to focus on educating students about the importance of lifestyle changes, including improving sleep.

This study used a strengths-based approach to look at the various factors within students’ lives that helped to improve their sleep. Dr Janssen’s findings show that better understandings of sleep hygiene and parents’ involvement can support improvements in adolescents’ sleeping patterns. She developed the concept of adolescent busyness, which included students’ academic work, social media use, out of hours activities, and peer and family relationships to understand some of the factors that could be inhibiting sleep. Her findings challenged media reports, showing that the majority of adolescents in her study are getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Importantly for parents, this study found that parents’ oversight of social media and devices can create stress that actually inhibits adolescents’ sleep. The factors of adolescent busyness are slightly increased for female students and issues of sleep appear to be worse for children as they move into their mid-teen years.

What the remarkable Mr Laing did next

Editor’s note: In 2021, Paul Laing won EduResearch Matters Blog/Blogger of the Year Award, which recognises an outstanding contribution to public understanding and debate of educational issues, for his post My teacher sucks’: how teacher shortages shatter learning. A year later, he has taken leave from his job as principal at a regional school in NSW. Here Paul tweets about his decision and the impact on his life.

Paul Laing is a doctoral research student (EdD) at the University of New South Wales and he has a background teaching languages across a broad range of schools in NSW. He has worked as a classroom teacher, Head Teacher, Deputy Principal and Principal, as well as a Teacher Quality Advisor and Curriculum Advisor. His current research includes exploring the relationship between working memory span before and after instruction. He has a keen interest in cognitive load theory and the contribution of cognitive science to learning design.

Distorted reports keep coming. This one will make you livid

What should we be talking about when we talk about teachers? Teachers’ pay, working conditions and the looming teacher shortage. 

What are media talking about instead? A commonly suggested ‘solution’ to address concerns about standards in teaching: pre-prepared lessons, or, as the Grattan Institute describes them in a recent report, ‘high quality teaching materials’. 

The Grattan Institute, a thinktank, notes in its summary of the report that: “of 2,243 teachers and school leaders across Australia, … only 15 per cent of teachers have access to a common bank of high-quality curriculum materials for all their classes.”

In a departure from any claims to objectivity, the report paints a picture of teachers “being left to fend for themselves, creating lessons from scratch and scouring the internet and social media for teaching materials”.

This is yet another example of a large scale survey conducted by those with only a tangential relationship to the profession. It ignores the views of many teachers and offers a ready-made solution – one likely to become another costly and wasted expense for taxpayers. It also fails to note such approaches have been tried in some jurisdictions in Australia – with limited success, for example, the Curriculum-to-Classroom program in Queensland was found to be deficient. The surest outcome of such an approach would be a new revenue stream for specifically chosen edu-businesses as they rush to be selected as the provider of choice.   

There are already a range of paid options for teachers to access similar resources through sites like Twinkl, Teachers Pay Teachers, TES and others. Admittedly, these are paid resources; we argue it is unreasonable for teachers to pay for any curriculum resources out-of-pocket. However, even a ‘free’ version seems misguided because it does not pay attention to the work – and the expertise – that is central to teachers’ practice. And this practice includes the careful design and development of learning materials. This is not something that can be outsourced. 

As we say, the assumption and positioning of highly trained and university-qualified teachers, many of whom have trained for 4 or more years, as vulnerable and ‘fending for themselves’ is odd.

Planning lessons, finding, curating and developing resources is central to the work of teachers. Many teachers take great delight in carefully crafting lessons that leverage students’ interests; education is not, and never has been a one-size-fits-all model and any claim otherwise is undermining teachers, leaders and education support staff around Australia.

Teachers delivering content via a pre-prepared script or lesson might seem easier and simpler, but it remains difficult to see who benefits from a lifeless and unthinking teacher delivering someone else’s content. The key to teaching – and learning – lies in the human relationships between teachers and students. Those human relationships allow for careful contextualisation and design. It is that which drives teachers to search for just the right YouTube clip – the one that will appeal to that particular Year 9 Science class – not a sense of ‘fending for themselves’. Whereas teachers are responsible for their school students, families and communities, creators of ‘teacher-proof’ lesson banks are accountable to their corporate employers. As Lucinda McKnight reflects, ‘who would we rather have designing learning experiences for our own children?’. 

Our new book, Empowering Teachers and Democratising Schooling: Perspectives from Australia has taken the focus of empowering teachers and outlines alternative, human-centric ways that teachers can be trusted and empowered to make decisions about their work, with the shared goal of democratising approaches to education. By combining theory, academic thinking and teachers’ best practice examples, the book provides a range of suggestions on many of the key challenges facing Australian education. For example, George Lilley outlines the way that teachers have been sidelined in favour of a rigorous adherence to educational research.Alex Wharton’s chapter   imagines what an education system might look and function like if teachers were respected across all facets of their domain. 

Polly Dunning’s chapter articulates the range of pressures placed upon teachers – and the effects this has on children. Not surprisingly, the nature of lesson planning is not mentioned, but rather the rise of administrivia and additional expectations placed upon teachers without additional time or funding provided. 

As with many things in education, the best solutions require humans to be empowered to find their own solutions.   Education is filled with complex, ‘wicked’ problems, where solutions can take time, and require contextual nuance. ‘Solutions’ such as those suggested by The Grattan Institute ultimately misunderstand the work of the teacher as technocratic and therefore something that can be standardised. Until we appreciate the complexity of what it means for teachers to teach, we will continue to be presented with claims of ‘teacher-proof’ policies and materials that ignore the diversity of the students, whilst disenfranchising the teaching profession. 

If we are aiming to recruit and retain teachers, poorly thought out solutions such as providing teachers with pre-prepared teaching materials, as suggested by the Grattan Institute, is not the answer. This will do little to reduce workload, and it will also further damage the reputation of the teaching profession by limiting the expertise of teachers. These outcomes will do little to encourage people to become or remain teachers.  

Instead, we must look towards long term solutions that recognise the expertise of the profession. Trust, empowerment and listening to the voices of the profession is key. 

Keith Heggart is an early career researcher with a focus on learning and instructional design, educational technology and civics and citizenship education. He is a former high school teacher, having worked as a school leader in Australia and overseas, in government and non-government sectors.

Steven Kolber is a teacher at a Victorian public school, the founder of #edureading founder, secretary of Teachers Across Borders Australia and a proud member of @AEUvictoria. #aussieED Global Teacher Prize top 50 Finalist

Tom Mahoney is a teacher and educator of secondary VCE Mathematics and Psychology students, currently completing a PhD in Educational Philosophy part time through Deakin University. His research explores the influence of dominant educational ideologies on teacher subjectivity. You can keep up to date with Tom’s work via his fortnightly newsletter, The Interruption, via Substack. Tom is on Twitter @tommahoneyedu  

It’s so dramatic: what new play Chalkface gets very right about being a teacher

Chalkface is a new play about teachers, currently being staged by the Sydney Theatre Company and playing at the Sydney Opera House.

Written by Angela Betzien, Chalkface is advertised as a black comedy in which an ‘old school’ teacher clashes with a bright-eyed newbie. As a researcher of teachers’ work and a head teacher Science, we hoped the play would be a fresh take on the profession we live every day; that it would make us laugh, and maybe even have something insightful to say.

We went to see Chalkface last Saturday evening and overall, we think that the play gets a lot right.

From the peeling paint, to the old mis-matched chairs, out-of-service hot water tap and enormous tin of Nescafe Blend 43, the set is without question the quintessential public school staffroom in Australia. There is even a resident rat* eating through the precious limited stock of coloured paper in the supply cupboard. Meanwhile, one teacher tells the newbie teacher to note the school’s general scent, which he describes as “old fart”.

Between us, we’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of schools. While some are newer or better-resourced than others, we can tell you that this is generally a pretty accurate representation of public education in NSW. (The “old fart” smell in particular seems, curiously, universal.)

What the accuracy of the play’s set, and jokes about lack of resources reflect, however, are a systemic underfunding and lack of maintenance of government educational facilities which will not be news to any local audience. It is well known Australia has a problem with educational equity, and the play takes frequent jabs at wealthy private sector schools. While the teachers in the play guzzle Blend 43 and rotate cleaning shifts, for example, the private school up the road has apparently just hired a full-time barista for its staff. The contrast here is stark, and while not all private schools are hugely wealthy, some of them certainly are and despite years of debate about developing a ‘needs-based’ funding system, we aren’t there yet.

Chalkface doesn’t end its commentary on education policy with resourcing, however. The school principal wants teachers to focus on NAPLAN preparation at the expense of richer learning activities, as he angsts about the possibility of losing students to other schools. This experience has a sound basis in research; the marketisation of education through the ongoing encouragement of parental ‘choice’ and the displaying of NAPLAN results on the My School website has had well-documented flow-on effects of ‘teaching to the test’.

Nicknamed ‘Thatcher’, the principal is renowned within the school for his austerity, even stealing kids’ lunchboxes from the lost and found. His anxiety about the school’s budget reflects not only an overall lack of funding, but also the current positioning of principals as school ‘business managers’, having a larger share of financial responsibility for the running of the school. Our bright-eyed newbie teacher, for instance, is on a temporary contract, which she is told is because she is cheaper; the rise in fixed-term contract work in teaching is also a current issue for the profession.

The relationship between ‘Thatcher’ and the rest of the teachers in the school is, indeed, fractious. The principal establishes a ‘suggestions’ box which is derided, by everyone other than him, as a “black hole”. Again we see resonance with current themes in policy and research: under autonomous schooling conditions, principals in NSW have been described as chronically over-worked, their attention diverted from engaging with staff perspectives and working conditions.

As for the teachers themselves, the divide between the ‘old’/experienced, and young/‘new’ teacher may seem stereotypical, yet also raises important questions around teacher burnout. One of the discomforts we felt while watching Chalkface was the way in which the teachers, especially those more experienced, talked about their students. Usually these were jokes but they were always disparaging, and not always funny. ‘Deficit’ talk – where students and/or their families are described as lacking, either in intelligence or desirable social norms – is indeed rife in teaching and probably does rear its ugly head most frequently in school staffrooms. It can serve to support cycles of poor academic outcomes for populations of students experiencing forms of educational disadvantage. It can also be linked to burnout, as indeed the younger teacher in the play identifies: one of the three dimensions of burnout is ‘depersonalisation’, and we see much of this in the staffroom talk of Chalkface.

Also of concern is the raft of rather alarming health conditions the teachers experience, caused by their jobs. One has a damaged coccyx from having a student pull a chair out from underneath him; another has spent the summer holidays in a psychiatric ward after being locked in a cupboard overnight by a student. These are extreme examples. They are funny, but they are also not funny, reflecting genuine, current concern with teacher wellbeing.   

There are some positive outcomes in Chalkface. The two women teachers who are the main characters learn and grow from each other, and it’s genuinely enjoyable to see them do so. But that is about it. Ultimately, nothing is done about the inequity the school faces and the difficulty of these teachers’ jobs. In fact, most of the teacher characters leave this under-resourced school by the end of the play.

Chalkface lands on a description of pedagogy as the “art and science of hope”. Generally, the play feels authentic. It made us laugh, and sometimes grimace in frustrated recognition. But ultimately, its ending portrays a bleak situation for public school education. We hope this part isn’t accurate, although we worry that it is.

*Spoiler alert: it turns out, it’s not a rat.

Meghan Stacey is a senior lecturer in the UNSW School of Education, researching in the fields of the sociology of education and education policy. Taking a particular interest in teachers, her research considers how teachers’ work is framed by policy, as well as the effects of such policy for those who work with, within and against it.


Nigel Kuan is Head Teacher Science at Inner Sydney High School. He holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Physics Education and a Masters of Teaching. Nigel has presented at Teach Meets and other practitioner forums, and takes a particular interest in student engagement and scientific literacy. 

Header images from the Sydney Theatre Company. Photo: Prudence Upton From left to right: Susan Prior, Stephanie Somerville, Catherine McClements and Nathan O’Keefe in Sydney Theatre Company’s Chalkface, 2022.

Anonymous writes: I became a better teacher during COVID. I didn’t yet know I had cancer

Remember the COVID shutdowns? Remember the months of remote teaching?

As a middle school teacher, I thought I handled the remote phases pretty well. We had two big ones in the ACT – week after week of innovating lessons.

So, when I felt pretty tired at the end of last year, I chalked it up to being middle aged, to having had a few years of classroom challenge, even to the research and writing required to finish my Master of Education.

Heck, I even wondered if I was experiencing long COVID.

But over the summer holidays I didn’t really recharge properly. Not like I had in previous years.

The news was then full of stories about teacher burnout. About teachers getting tired. Yeah – that’s me, I thought.

As the weeks of Term One passed, it was getting clear I was more tired. Not the just-have-a-nap tired. By May, when I came back from a conference, I slept for 14 hours straight.

By June, I went to the doctor. Tests for all sorts of things. Test after test. Samples and vials and specimen jars. Machines I had never seen before, probing parts I had never really thought about.

The tests raised a few red flags. So then there were different tests in July. Then a biopsy. Then a cancer diagnosis in August.

Looking back, my hardcore tiredness was the result of a billion blood cells fighting a battle against tumours each day.

But (and here is the funny thing) I became a better teacher this year. I refined my approach. I focussed on my classroom craft and I was ruthless about my approaches to overcome workload issues.

To deal with the tiredness – remember, I thought this was just a COVID-shaped hangover for most of the year – I went back to my toolbox this year to consider what works. What works for me and what works every time, just so I didn’t have to think so hard to be a good classroom operator. 

I found my auto-pilot with the following approaches.

  1. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it. This one sounds simple, but I wanted to make sure my limited energy was going into what works. I had long been a fan of the Victoria Department of Education’s High Impact Teaching Strategies. These provide a drive-through summary of work from Hattie, Lemov, Marzano, and the Teaching and Learning Toolkit from Evidence For Learning. Yes, they all use different methodologies to measure effect size and identify what works well in a classroom. The HITS set aside the variation in approaches and terms and provide 10 powerful strategies, and meant I needed less brain energy to plan my teaching approaches.
  2. Get the students to do the work. As I started to get more and more tired, I plugged into the energy of my students by flipping the classroom. I had tinkered with this during remote schooling, but I went full flip with a lot of guidance from Catlin Tucker’s work on blended learning. I also tuned into effective classroom preparation and talk using TQE from Marisa Thomson. This meant students came in with the ideas and the questions for the lesson. It wasn’t up to me to light up a lesson. I had started the process with the students doing the work, even before I got to school.
  3. I do, we do, you do. Every lesson finished with a modelled writing from me, then a cooperative writing task, then student writing. This worked in my early-career classrooms with support from First Steps/Stepping Out and it still works today. Every lesson. The routine became my friend. The students knew what was coming.  They got to ask “why did you do that?”, they heard my think-alouds while writing and they tried the ideas themselves. They got better at their writing. They knew they were getting better. You want energy in a classroom? Tap into the confidence of students on the move. Bandura has been saying this stuff for half a century and it is a powerful ride.
  4. But what about the marking? Yep – more writing would normally mean more marking, right? If you don’t mark it, how do the students know where they are going? It’s all about formative assessment, yeah? Well, kinda. I tapped into some marking techniques from Jennifer Gonzalez via Cult of Pedagogy . She writes “It’s important for students to get lots of practice, and to get credit for their effort, but not everything needs careful grading.” These techniques changed my classroom and helped my students progress every week.

Every classroom is different. Every class is different. Every teacher is different. I am not writing this to tell teachers how to do their job – you might be surprised how much your ego gets trimmed when doctors poke and prod at you for a few months.

But, there may be something here to help teachers use their energy budget effectively. There may be a way here that helps a tired teacher achieve more and feel good about themselves and their classes, and not burn out.

(One more thing. I have had a level of support from a partner, a principal and a head of department that is beyond words. The spoken and unspoken support often made the difference between hope and despair. If teaching is about relationships, then it is these relationships that will rescue you on the days when you feel about to drown.)

Teaching is hard. 

Teaching in a pandemic is hard. 

Teaching in a pandemic with cancer is hard.

Let’s be kind. Let’s be smarter. Let’s do the absolute best we can do to support each other and build the skills of our students.

Note from the editor: This piece is written by a former contributor to the AARE blog. That person wanted to remain anonymous. I agreed to the request and published the piece as it is.

Why that one tweet went viral (and what we must do now to fix “teacher shortages”)

I almost never post on Twitter. Sometimes I like other people’s posts, but I’ve been a reluctant Twitter user. However, last week I posted this statement: There is no ‘teacher shortage’. There are thousands of qualified experienced teachers who are no longer teaching. There’s a shortage of respect and proper compensation for teachers allowing them to actually teach. In fact, as full disclosure, I paraphrased this from something posted by Professor Kara Mitchell Viesca | College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with whom I’ve worked. By the time I woke up in the morning, the tweet had gone viral. It’s been liked more 229.5K times, shared 44.2K times and commented on 1,937 times.

Nearly all these comments were posted by teachers or ex-teachers who emphatically agree that a change is needed in how we frame “teacher shortages”. These comments were from all around the world, mainly from the US but also from Australia, Canada, the UK and elsewhere. I haven’t yet sifted through all the comments, which keep on coming.

Overwhelmingly, these teachers (or ex-teachers) perceive the discourse of “teacher shortages” as misguided and even hurtful. As they point out, there are thousands and thousands of well-prepared, passionate, skilled, knowledgeable teachers. Comments on the original post recount how much they put into their teaching,  how well qualified they are yet how little they felt valued. The constant criticism of teachers is something Nicole Mockler has written about recently, in her review of media representations of teachers.

Those who posted explained how much they loved the kids in their classrooms, created and taught creative, content-rich lessons. Many said they had been fully planning to teach for the rest of their lives. In other words, there was never a ‘shortage’ of good teachers who might have stayed had it not been so hard. They grieve their loss of career. Many say they didn’t really want to leave teaching, but as widely reported, they could just no longer teach how they wanted to – nor in some cases could they maintain their mental and physical health under current conditions. Teachers talked about the pressures of only ever receiving impermanent contracts, of endless reporting, of unreasonable workloads dominated by non-teaching tasks, of being on the receiving end of constant teacher-blaming. They also wrote about the de-professionalisation of teaching and their loss of autonomy.

Some mentioned other reasons for leaving, such as poor student behaviour but by far the majority of comments simply responded ‘truth’ or ‘yessss’ or ‘agree’. The sadness on the part of teachers who no longer feel they can remain teaching is palpable from these responses.

Some teachers who have left the profession have found a way around those pressures by taking advantage of government schemes, both in Australia and elsewhere that are designed to address teacher shortages but may have created a different set of problems. For instance, in Victoria significant funding has been allocated through the Tutor Learning Initiative https://www.vic.gov.au/tutor-learning-initiative-2022-information-for-prospective-tutors which employs part-time tutors in schools to ‘catch up’ students who are academically behind since the pandemic. One unintended consequence was that exhausted and often very experienced teachers took the opportunity to take well-paid tutoring jobs that relieved them of the parts of teaching they liked least, such as duties that could be carried out by administrative staff. Again, the ‘resignation’ from teaching cannot be perceived as a ‘teacher shortage’ but as a kind of redistribution of talent. Good or ‘quality’ teachers have chosen to move sideways (in fact downwards, taking less pay and security but with less stress) to stay in schools.

In fact, there is no lack of research on why teachers leave. There have been numerous teacher attrition and retention studies over a great many years. Except for pandemic related workforce issues (sickness and lockdowns) we’ve been warned for a long time that we needed a teacher workforce renewal strategy, not just because of an ageing workforce but because of the increasing accountabilities and pressures on teachers. These issues are widely reported, not just by other researchers, but in recent reports such as the  Grattan Institute report Making Time for Great Teaching.

Along with Amy McPherson, Bruce Burnett and Danielle Armour, our recent review of twenty years of government, ITE and private initiatives to attract and retain a teaching workforce conservatively found 147 government, ITE or partnered initiatives that have been trialled over the past twenty years. One recommendation is that understanding the retention of teachers at key ‘walking point’ moments would assist policymakers in designing longer-term, more impactful interventions to attract teachers towards hard-to-staff schools (especially when they are considering leaving the profession).

This review of the many initiatives that have already been funded and implemented is just one research project repeating what seems to be clear. Incentives may attract people including career-changers, to teaching, but it’s a whole of system issue. The problem isn’t Initial Teacher Education on its own, which has been graduating very good (sometimes great) teachers for many, many years. The problem isn’t a lack of smart, passionate, and committed people who want to be teachers. But the well may go dry – we can’t keep looking elsewhere for teachers if we aren’t able to keep them in the profession. There’s little question that this is a crisis. We do need teachers in front of students; and there is no doubt teaching workforce issues are urgent. But sending teachers our there more quickly or prescribing curriculum to ‘help them manage their time’ is a misunderstanding of what’s going on.  And by the way, school leaders agree. There were many comments from Principals as well.

I want to make it clear that I had not expected this post to go viral. I have been coordinating social justice teacher education programs such as the Nexus alternative pathway into teaching for a very long time . I see amazing schools and dedicated teachers ever day who are doing remarkable things under difficult circumstances. I am ‘for’ teachers and schools.

If 229.5K isn’t evidence enough of how teachers are feeling I’m not sure what is. I’m also very reluctant to focus only on “teacher grief”. Let’s also tap into the stories of teachers who remain in schools, especially now. Let’s find out what their working lives are like. Their lived experience will tell us how close they are to walking, why they stay, what keeps them going. Nobody knows how to find solutions better than those most affected.

On August 8, the Minister for Education Jason Clare published the Teacher Workforce Shortages Paper in advance of the Teacher Workforce Roundtable to tackle the national teacher workforce shortage

Maybe we should stop using the term teacher shortages.

We have a teacher workforce issue without a doubt. We need more teachers urgently. But some of us are nervous about recruiting new teachers at the same time as we are sorting out their workplace conditions.

Jo Lampert is Professor of Social Inclusion and Teacher Education at La Trobe University. She has led alternative pathways into teaching in hard-to-staff schools for over 15 years, most recently as Director of the Commonwealth and State supported Nexus M. Teach in Victoria, a social justice, employment-based pathway whereby preservice teachers work as Education Support Staff prior to gaining employment as paraprofessionals (Nexus). She tweets at @jolampert.

The education minister’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea*

When will governments learn their lesson? Worksheets won’t fix workload crisis.

The teachers of NSW are at breaking point, and the government solution is to take away the part of their work they most expert in – lesson planning.  As Queensland’s experience shows, this ‘quick fix’ will not solve the workload issues which underpin NSW’s teacher shortage crisis.

The social media response to the SMH’s article, which featured the NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell (pictured in the image with department secretary Georgina Harrison) on lesson planning reform has been swift.

and more.

Teachers are decrying the government strategy. Of most concern,  the resources will be produced in under eight weeks, for a curriculum that is currently under review. The lack of transparency about how this feat will happen makes this approach look like this wasteful, impractical splurge on public funds during a time we are all being asked to tighten our belts.

The thing is, resources are already available and attached to the National Curriculum website via Scootle. Many of them arrived there because of a similar initiative by the Queensland Government. So our question is, why hasn’t the NSW government done its homework or listened to the teachers before addressing the core issues fuelling the teacher crisis?

Lesson planning is not the issue

While the Grattan Institute report, which forms the basis of the NSW government’s strategy, identifies the biggest demand on teacher time is planning, they have neglected that this lesson planning is the part of their work that teachers want to be doing – it is their core work. The top three activities teachers would choose to do if they had a  spare hour are working on student assessment, preparing effective classroom instruction, and adapting teaching.

 The Grattan report goes on to argue that providing teachers with centralised planning resources will alleviate pressure. But the report’s own findings show the issue not the planning per se, but the time needed to undertake it – teachers could develop common lesson plans and resources, tailored to and developed within their school context, with their colleagues, if the time that they identify as the biggest impediment is provided to them.

Increased administrative duties and expanding pastoral care pressures are chewing into time teachers once had to collaborate, plan and prepare their students for success. Time is the issue, but time could be made available by strategies that deal with the administrivia of teacher workloads, rather than removing the core work.

Queensland tried and failed

Queensland tried the centralised provision of “curriculum lesson plans, texts and learning materials” a decade ago in the Curriculum to Classroom (C2C) reforms, designed to support the initial implementation of the Australian Curriculum. This project, while well-intentioned, was not as simple as the Queensland Department of Education first imagined. It became plagued by multiple issues which both slowed down the roll out and reduced the quality of the resources in comparison to what a teacher could develop themselves, if given the time. For example, according to Naomi Barnes who was a Senior Writer on the program, copyright meant that only resources which were made freely available by those who owned the copyright, or were out of copyright, were approved for use in the C2C program. This means that in an era where teachers are trying to increase the diversity of texts in their classrooms (which they could do through purchasing class sets and designing their own lessons)  they were instead provided with worksheets that referred to dated works that were less prone to copyright issues.  To include diverse texts would mean adequately compensating authors, rather than financially cutting corners through inferior resourcing.

Even more concerning was the political interference in the development of the materials, with resources being vetoed by the Newman LNP government at the time. As such, lesson plans were held up to scrutiny via the “Courier Mail test” or whether they would hit the newspaper for content Newman’s government might determine was partisan. Issues of diversity and contestability were removed for “safer” options. In other words the government decided what was safe for children to know. This political interference in teacher’s work is still a feature of LNP curriculum governance

C2C also increased workload. Research from both C2C implementation and more recently shows that even with highly proscriptive, resourced lesson plans, teachers viewed and used the materials in a wide range of ways, negating the promise of consistency and workload reduction. For example, Mathematics teachers pointed out that the initial C2C materials did not actually address all elements of the curriculum they were meant to support and so required significant redevelopment. Barton et al’s exploration of the initial responses to C2C implementation found “prescription of curriculum materials only leads to mistrust and a devaluing of teachers’ expertise”. Hardy suggested rather than seeking to standardise teacher work, we instead recognise teachers’ professional skills as experts in lesson planning and curriculum implementation, valuing their professional collaborations and practices .

Workload correction

While having a set of resources can be a helpful starting point when planning, it is not going to fix the workload issues facing teachers because teachers will still have to spend time adapting them to their school context, which is what they already do with the myriad of resources already available to teachers in numerous resource banks, like Scootle.

A full-time teacher is currently allocated approximately 3.5- 4 hours a week as non-contact or preparation and correction time. A standard teaching load is 4-6 classes, so this is less 30 minutes per week during the school day to plan for learning and mark assessment. The Grattan report pointed out that 28% of teacher time is devoted to non-teaching activity (ie over one full day a week – more than their allocated non-contact time). As one example, the introduction of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) has significantly increased the administrative workload for teachers in maintaining detailed lesson plans and tracking individual resources to ensure funding is allocated to students with additional needs or disabilities (Union survey highlights data overload (informit.org)). Properly funding learning support staff who can assist classroom teachers both with the planning for and administration of differentiated materials would be one welcome change. A reduction in teacher’s cocurricular loads would also be another easy-to-implement solution, as would reviewing the extent of classroom teacher involvement in pastoral care work, which has only increased with the increased disruption and distress of COVID and bouts of lockdown and homeschooling. 

The issue is that the proportion of non-teaching activity is taking up their allocated time to prepare for their core work – lesson planning and differentiated delivery. Rather than spending money on creating (already available) resources the funds NSW has to spend on this project would be better spent investing in additional school staff to take up some of this administrative load.

The clear and obvious solution to relieving pressure on teachers is an ongoing investment in additional staff: learning support experts, sports and arts co-curricular supervisors, and professional pastoral staff.  Recognising teachers’ professional expertise as educators and giving them the time to do their core business well is the real answer to the teaching crisis, not handing out another worksheet.

*Headline with apologies to Alexander and to Judith Viorst

Dr Alison Bedford is a lecturer (curriculum and pedagogy) in the School of Education at the University of Southern Queensland and a secondary school history teacher.

Dr Naomi Barnes is a network analyst and theorist interested in how ideas influence education policy. She is a senior lecturer in literacy teaching and has worked for Education Queensland as a senior writer and has worked as a secondary English, hstory and geography teacher in government, Catholic and independent schools.

Teachers deserve more than love and praise. They deserve a raise.

Our second post on the NSW Teachers’ strike

It has been 10 years since NSW public sector teachers have taken industrial action. 

Within that decade, workloads for teachers have exploded, salaries have become uncompetitive, and the teacher shortage in NSW has worsened. 

The education sector is at a tipping point. 

NSW public sector teachers are currently renegotiating a new award to protect and improve their salaries and working conditions. But the findings from the Independent Inquiry into the NSW Teaching Profession chaired by Professor Emeritus Geoff Gallop released in February this year found stark evidence of a profession in crisis. 

The evidence we presented to the Gallop Inquiry painted a picture of worsening working conditions for the profession and highlighted that urgent change is needed. 

Why working conditions need improving

Working hours are unsustainable 

Teacher workloads have reached an unsustainable level. Our research of over 18,000 NSW public sector teachers has highlighted that teachers are now working an average of 55 hours per week. Increased data collection requirements, constant curriculum changes, and more complex student needs have contributed to this.

Our research also found the average teachers’ work undertaken at home is consistently between 11 to 12 hours per week, indicating that work in schools is too great in volume to be undertaken on the school site. 

During school holidays, teachers also work excessive hours, on average 10 hours per week, but up to 40 hours in some cases.

Overburdened with administration

Most teachers who responded to the survey (91%) reported that administrative demands impacted their core work of teaching. Teachers reported they were coping with the challenges of this major administrative load by working longer hours. In NSW, over 96% of teacher-respondents reported that the volume of collection, analysis, and reporting of data had increased over the last five years. 

If these statistics aren’t concerning enough, the voices of teachers speak to the challenges they face:

“I am currently on leave from the head teacher position and am working as a classroom teacher. This decision was due to excessive work hours, averaging 80-plus hours per week in term and 50-plus hours in ‘holidays’ as a head teacher for six years. The stress of this unsustainable workload left me physically exhausted and mentally drained.”

“The paperwork and administrative work has increased enormously.”

“The administrative demands and all the other useless busy work are detracting from the ability of school leaders and staff to engage creatively and to be innovative in the delivery of teaching and learning.”

One teacher recently tweeted his litany of mandated non-teaching tasks. We note it is not exhaustive:

Precarious work is on the rise

Teachers are not only working harder, but undertaking their job in more precarious conditions than ever before.  Fixed-term contract teaching is a growing feature of the NSW public education system. While the category of ‘temporary’ teacher in NSW was established in 2001 in response to growing concerns around casualization and a need to ensure greater employment security for, in particular, women returning to the workforce after having children, today it constitutes an enhanced dimension of precarity within teaching. 

Around 21% of the NSW teaching workforce currently work in temporary roles. Although temporary teachers do similar work to permanent teachers, they often feel as though they work harder. Many perceive they need to ‘do more’ in order to keep their contracted jobs. 

Teachers told us that: 

“I feel there is an unspoken pressure for temp teachers to ‘do more’ in order to heighten their chances to get work for the next year.”

They are “at the whim of principals who pick and choose according to who toes the line.”

Student results are worsening while teacher shortages increase

The evidence from the survey suggested that negative impacts on students were likely to follow if current trends continued. Sadly, this is the situation that has played out with results of Australian students continuing to decline by international comparisons in particular broad-scale testing regimes.

Alongside the workload problem is the worsening teacher shortage in the State. Enrolment growth, an ageing profession and fewer students enrolling to train as teachers means the profession is at risk of “running out of teachers in the next five years”.

Poor pay plus increasing hours and intensity of work will make addressing a teacher shortage extremely difficult. Lifting pay is critical for the sustainability of the profession and is a signal of the increased attention and respect that is long overdue for teachers. Addressing teachers’ current working conditions is also critical to how shortages can be addressed.

Why strike action is on the table

There is no doubt that it has become more difficult for trade unions to legally engage in industrial action, with the parameters for legal industrial action now being so narrow. 

Indeed, after the NSW Teachers’ Federation announced its intended strike action for 24 hours, the NSW Department of Education (successfully) sought no-strike orders from the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

Teachers are not a militant profession but have a profound sense of care for the students they teach and the work they do in their communities. This is why industrial action is so extraordinary. 

Strike action is often a last resort. But our research has found that teachers can engage in such action when they feel that policies and political decisions are deeply and significantly threatening their core industrial and professional conditions of work, intensified by an uncooperative or dismissive government. The teachers’ union has said teachers feel this way

Striking is most successful when teachers are collectively aggrieved about multiple deficiencies in the system brought on by the policies of managerialist governments, like poor job security, increasing class sizes, undermining the professional status of teachers, increasing workloads, and bureaucratic models of performance management. 

An uncooperative government can also activate teachers to mobilise when governments are either openly hostile towards teachers and their union, or fail to consult with them on policies that affect their conditions of work. 

There are few occasions in history where NSW teachers have flexed their industrial muscle to take a stand against marketization and managerialism that eroded teachers’ working conditions. In one of the largest demonstrations in Australian labour history, some 80,000 teachers descended on The Domain in Sydney on 17 August 1988 to protest against the Greiner/Metherell cuts to public education funding and market-driven policies. 

The suite of pressure points currently facing the teaching profession brought on by a challenging reform environment sets the scene to rival the success of the 1988 strike. According to Buchanan, “today’s teachers would need a 15 per cent pay rise to restore them to their wage status three decades ago alongside comparable professions”. Given that, the demands seem very reasonable. 

Teachers’ voices must be heard now. If not, it will be too late. 

From left to right: Rachel Wilson is Associate Professor at The Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She has expertise in educational assessment, research methods and programme evaluation, with broad interests across educational evidence, policy and practice. She is interested in system-level reform and has been involved in designing, implementing and researching many university and school education reforms. Rachel is on Twitter@RachelWilson100 Susan McGrath-Champ is Professor in the Work and Organisational Studies Discipline at the University of Sydney Business School, Australia. Her research includes the geographical aspects of the world of work, employment relations and international human resource management. Recent studies include those of school teachers’ work and working conditions. Meghan Stacey is a former high school English and drama teacher and current lecturer in the School of Education at UNSW Sydney. Meghan’s primary research interests sit at the intersection of sociological theory, policy sociology and the experiences of those subject to systems of education. Meghan’s PhD was conferred in April 2018. Meghan is on Twitter @meghanrstacey Mihajla Gavin is a lecturer in the Business School at the University of Technology Sydney, and has worked as a senior officer in the public sector in Australia across various workplace relations advisory, policy and project roles. Mihajla’s research is concerned with analysing the response of teacher unions to neoliberal education reform that has affected teachers’ conditions of work. Mihajla is on Twitter @Mihajla_Gavin

The future of teachers’ pay: time to send a better price signal

Today we will feature two posts on the NSW Teachers’ strike. This is the first post.

At the peak of their careers teachers earn less than electricians, physios, PR people and chiropractors and half that paid to lawyers and finance managers.

What we pay people – especially those at the top of their game – says a lot about what we value.  

As we to look towards a post-Covid-19 world we need to think about what signals we send young people making initial career choices and those planning the rest of their working lives.  

Currently we are sending the wrong signal about teaching.  And that message has been deteriorating over the years.

There are two fundamental problems.

The first concerns the slide in teachers’ pay compared to other professionals in Australia.  In 1986 female teachers earned 102% of the female professionals’ average and male teachers earned 99% of the male professionals’ average. By 2018 the position of teachers had worsened- women teachers earning 93% and male teachers earning 84% of the respective professionals’ average. 

The second concerns their flat earnings profile compared to their peers overseas and most other professions in Australia.   While entry level wages for teachers are relatively high, the top of the teacher’s pay scale in Australia is compressed relative to that paid to their peers in many OECD countriesl

What needs to be done?

Research released last year points to the need for a sizeable increase (minimum of 10-15%) in teachers’ wages.  This would restore teachers’ pay relative to that earned by the average professional to what prevailed 30 years ago.

The most effective way of achieving this is to address the problem of the teacher’s compressed wage structure.  Top teachers need to be paid significantly more.  Compared to nearly all other professionals in Australia, experienced teachers are paid significantly less than experienced lawyers, doctors, engineers and ICT professionals.  These professionals have significantly higher rates at the top of the scale (in the range of 30 – 50 per cent higher than those at entry level).

It is time to review the structure of teachers’ pay classifications which are relatively compressed by international standards.  Importantly, in examining other professions, not all members of those professions get the same, higher, rate of pay.  Higher earnings go to particular sub-groups in the respective professions.  This is most evident when we examine those in the top 20% of any profession.  

Increasing the top wage rate would have the effect of increasing the attractiveness of teaching as a lifetime career and greatly increase the likelihood that the best teachers will be retained in the future.

Reports of looming teacher shortages are growing.  A longstanding cause is that as many as one third of new teachers leave within five years of entering the profession.   Conventional economic theory says employers should respond to this with higher wages.

In practice, pay alone is never the solution to staff shortages  – but equally it is difficult to overcome such problems without significant adjustments in remuneration.   Increasing pay is an ‘essential ingredient’ in any serious policy package devised to attract and retain labour.  

Such movements send a signal.  In this case it would make clear that teaching is as highly valued as many other occupations in society – professional and non-professional.  

An improved price signal, especially for those in the upper reaches of the profession, has the potential to profoundly change Australians’ career decisions at the beginning of their working life, retain the best teachers in the system and make it easier for those interested in making the transition into teaching at later stages in their careers.

Professor John Buchanan is based in the University of Sydney Business School.  The report he co-authored is entitled NSW Teachers’ Pay: How it has changed and how it compares is available on the NSW Teachers’ Federation website.

Will the Quality Time Action Plan reduce teacher workload?

Teachers want more time for lesson planning, not less.

Last week, the NSW Department of Education released the Quality Time Action Plan, intended to “simplify administrative practices in schools”. Having highlighted the concerning growth in administrative workload in schools in a report based on a survey of more than 18,000 teachers for the NSW Teachers Federation in 2018, we were excited to hear about this development. 

A way forward for reducing administrative workload?

The Plan provides a commitment to “freeing up time”, through a targeted “reduction of 40 hours of low-value administrative tasks per teacher per year”. Administrative work was the overriding concern for teachers in our workload survey, with more than 97% of teachers reporting an increase in administrative requirements in the five prior years. Further research shows that the heavy workload of teachers pre-pandemic was intensified by COVID19 in 2020. As researchers in the field and advocates for the important work of teachers, we find it encouraging to see tangible efforts made to address teacher workload.

According to the Plan, issues with administration are to be addressed through six “opportunity areas”: 1) curriculum resources and support, 2) assessment and reporting to parents and carers, 3) accreditation, 4) processes and support services, 5) extracurricular activities, and 6) data collection and analysis. Some of these areas, especially data collection and analysis, resonate with what we heard from teachers in our 2018 survey. And importantly, some of the actions in the Action Plan do seem to provide tangible reductions in the time teachers spend on this kind of work, such as automating data processing that was previously manual. 

Avoiding the narrowing of teachers’ work

But other target areas of the Plan were more surprising to us, particularly those around curriculum. The Plan acknowledges that “skilled programming and lesson planning are a critical part of teaching” – but also states that “this task can be quite time consuming”. It offers to improve “the accessibility and quality of teacher resources” to “save hours of time teachers previously used creating and searching for content”. We’re not the only ones who were surprised by this inclusion – we noted plenty of social media discussion from teachers about it last Friday after the plan was released to them. 

We don’t have access to all of the data upon which the Department is basing its Plan. Maybe there are teachers who have called for more assistance in programming and lesson planning. There is, to our knowledge, no published research suggesting that this is a problematic workload area for teachers, although it has been a noted challenge in relation to conversion to remote teaching during the pandemic. This Plan strategy does seem to be at odds with the findings of our survey that teachers’ most valued activity, the one that they saw as most important and necessary, was “planning and preparation of lessons”. Similarly, teachers reported wanting more time for “developing new units of work and/or teaching programs”. They did not want to do less of this kind of work, in contrast to what the Plan seems to propose. 

According to policy analyst and scholar Carol Bacchi, policy documents always serve to create or give shape to policy problems. That is, for Bacchi, any ‘solution’ given in a policy is actively constructing a particular kind of ‘problem’ to be addressed. So it’s interesting that the Plan constructs class preparation as part of the teacher workload ‘problem’. This suggests that the problem isn’t that teachers need more time to do their preparation, but that the way in which they have been preparing in the past has been inefficient, with the solution to instil a more centralised approach. While teachers may be appreciative of such resources, it’s not what they advocated in our survey, where the top recommended strategy was to reduce face-to-face teaching time to facilitate a closer focus on collaboration for planning, programming, assessing and reporting. Similarly, we note that the NSW Teachers Federation salaries and conditions campaign launched last week, ‘More Than Thanks’, is – along with higher salaries – calling for an increase in preparation time of two hours a week, to enable this kind of work. 

There are also other interesting framings of the teacher workload problem in the Plan. For example, the support around data collection and analysis seems to be mostly about ‘streamlining’ existing requirements rather than removing them. This tells us that the perceived problem is not the data itself but how it is collected and reported. 

Lesson planning is core to teachers’ work 

Given that the Action Plan’s intended focus is on ‘administration’, this makes us wonder what ‘administration’ in teaching is understood to include. What is considered ‘administration’ and therefore peripheral, and what is considered ‘teaching’ and therefore core? This is quite a high-stakes question. Because if we position some aspects of teachers’ work as simply ‘administration’, then we run the risk of sidelining work that teachers value as part of their professional identity, such as the creative and intellectual work of lesson planning. 

We are wary of any policy approach which re-purposes concerns over workload as an opportunity to control or limit the central pedagogical labour of teachers. Reforms which chip away at the core work of teachers, where both societal contribution and teacher satisfaction is most concentrated, run the risk of damaging the profession and the education system it carries.

This may not be what happens under the Quality Time Action Plan. But given recent concerns over the commercialisation of education data and resourcing, it is worth asking whether it would be the profession itself providing centralised programming and planning resources, or if this would be outsourced. 

Teachers’ voices matter: give your feedback 

There is an opportunity to provide feedback on the Action Plan. We encourage teachers – those who live these matters each and every day – to fill in the feedback form. Workload issues are as complex as they are important, and we heartily welcome the ongoing efforts of all stakeholders to effectively support the people who staff our schools. 

Rachel Wilson is Associate Professor at The Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She has expertise in educational assessment, research methods and programme evaluation, with broad interests across educational evidence, policy and practice. She is interested in system-level reform and has been involved in designing, implementing and researching many university and school education reforms. Rachel is on Twitter @RachelWilson100

Susan McGrath-Champ is Professor in the Work and Organisational Studies Discipline at the University of Sydney Business School, Australia. Her research includes the geographical aspects of the world of work, employment relations and international human resource management. Recent studies include those of school teachers’ work and working conditions.

Meghan Stacey is a former high school English and drama teacher and current lecturer in the School of Education at UNSW Sydney. Meghan’s primary research interests sit at the intersection of sociological theory, policy sociology and the experiences of those subject to systems of education. Meghan’s PhD was conferred in April 2018. Meghan is on Twitter @meghanrstacey

Mihajla Gavin is a lecturer in the Business School at the University of Technology Sydney, and has worked as a senior officer in the public sector in Australia across various workplace relations advisory, policy and project roles. Mihajla’s research is concerned with analysing the response of teacher unions to neoliberal education reform that has affected teachers’ conditions of work. Mihajla is on Twitter @Mihajla_Gavin

Scott Fitzgerald is an associate professor and discipline lead of the People, Culture and Organisations discipline group in the School of Management at Curtin University. Scott’s research presently covers two main areas: the changing nature of governance, professionalism and work in the education sector.