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SPECIAL REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT PRIORITIES, CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES


SPECIAL REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT In The Educator’s fourth annual Education Report, we asked teachers and principals all over Australia to share their goals and aspirations they have for their schools, how they plan to achieve them and the challenges in their way. The result is a revealing portrait of a sector striving for excellence This year promises to be a significant one for Australia’s schools, with many sweeping reforms underway. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Federal Government’s review of the Australian Curriculum, which promises to shake up the way that teaching and learning happens in schools across the nation. Other reviews into the status of teaching in Australia and the impact of mobile phones in classrooms will also see big changes for leaders to navigate. In The Educator’s annual Education Report, senior educators from all states and territories were asked to share the key challenges they are facing in their schools and how they intend to tackle them. The 2020 Education Report is an inside look at a sector undergoing radical change and details the strategies and resources that leaders are leveraging to ensure they, and their schools, thrive amid the challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.

SURVEY PARTICIPANTS Among survey participants, principals made up the largest share, followed by deputy/assistant principals, department heads and then teachers. Most participants work in the Kindergarten, followed by Year 7 –12 and K-12 classrooms. Principals: 30.49% K-6 educators: 43.9%

Deputy/assistant principals: 21.95%

Year 7-12 educators: 32.15%

Department heads/ senior teachers: 17.7%

K-12 educators: 21.95%

Teachers: 13.41%

WHERE ARE RESPONDENTS BASED? WA QLD

8.54%

14.63%

52.44% Metropolitan areas

NSW 47.56%

ACT

40.24% Regional areas

3.66% SA 7.32%

7.36% VIC 18.26%

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Rural areas


WHAT TYPES OF SCHOOLS DO THEY TEACH IN? A majority of participants (59.76%) work in government schools, while 23.17% work in independent schools, and 17.07% work in Catholic schools. An overwhelming number of their schools are co-educational (91.46%), with a small minority (8.54%) are exclusive to one sex.

59.76%

23.17%

17.07%

91.46%

8.54%

Government schools

Independent schools

Catholic schools

Co-educational

Single-sex education

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING YOU AS AN EDUCATION LEADER? While it may be a new school year, the biggest challenges that educators are facing remain very much the same, with respondents of the Education Report 2020 highlighting a lack of time, large workloads and student mental health and wellbeing as major distractions. When it came to lack of time, many leaders struggled with “getting basic tasks done”, “facilitating new and expected policies/guidelines” and “working collaboratively with staff to plan and moderate units of work”. Workloads were another thorn in the side, with many leaders reporting increased demands and training needs for teachers despite relatively low rates of pay for the profession. Others cited the pressure that student and parent behaviour can create for teachers, contributing to more time spent on people management at the expense of teaching and learning.

Lack of time

Student Mental Health Wellbeing

The complex issue of students’ mental health and wellbeing was also identified as a significant challenge for educators, with one pointing to “ice addicted parents and students living in trauma”. Others pointed to a growth in the number of students presenting to school with mental health issues and the amount of additional responsibilities associated with the mental health of students and staff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, leaders flagged ‘bureaucracy and administrative red tape’ as a major challenge. Examples included “meeting the expectations of a board with unsupportive staff.”; “unrealistic expectations from line managers”; “red tape, accountability” and “moronic time-wasting documentation that prevents effective teaching together with unmotivated and disengaged students and parents who have little or no value of education”.

Workload

Bureaucracy and Administrative Red Tape

WHAT SKILLS OR KNOWLEDGE DO YOU THINK ARE MOST CRUCIAL FOR EDUCATION MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS TODAY? With respondents finding less time and more workload as their biggest challenges, the survey found that more leaders believe that interpersonal skills and flexibility are the most crucial skills needed for education management.

Another respondent noted the need “to be available at all times and hold many roles”.

According to one educator, “without a doubt, [the most important skills or knowledge] are a high level of emotional intelligence [and a] high level of interpersonal skills. Leading instruction and the ability to do so is crucial.”

“It’s not just about education anymore – we’re human resources managers, financial managers, physiologists, counsellors, mental health professionals, replacement parents, police officers and maintenance officers – you name it!”

While one respondent said educators need to learn the “ability to strategically prioritise, resource and align” their staff and students’ learning needs, another said they also need to have a high level of emotional intelligence “to navigate respectful relationships” among staff, students and parents.

A teaching principal also went on to list other jobs they had to do: “nurse, counsellor, secretary, accountant, arbitrator, negotiator, mentor, behavioural specialist, speech pathologist, OT, parent, juggler, specialist in a number of fields – and maybe teacher – if we can fit it in.”

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SPECIAL REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT WHAT SKILLS OR KNOWLEDGE DO YOU THINK ARE MOST CRUCIAL FOR EDUCATION MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONALS TODAY? Most Important

Curriculum and intrapersonal Flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity Dealing with mental health STEM (understanding the importance of it) Human Resource Management skills Technology integration Best teaching practice and communication skills (particularly when dealing with difficult situations) Leadership in innovative change management practices (and the capacity to lead that change)

Least Important

People skills, organisational skills and process management

HOW CHALLENGING DO YOU EXPECT EACH OF THE FOLLOWING AREAS TO BE FOR YOUR SCHOOL/LEADERSHIP TEAM IN 2020?

MANAGING STAFF AND STUDENT WELLBEING:

ATTRACTING AND RETAINING HIGH-QUALITY TEACHING STAFF:

68.29% 52.44% 26.83%

36.59% 10.98%

1.22% Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

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Not challenging

Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

Not challenging


INTRODUCING OR UPGRADING SCHOOL FACILITIES:

INTRODUCING NEW TECHNOLOGY TO ASSIST WITH SCHOOL MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION:

48.78%

50% 35.37%

30.49%

19.51%

9.76% Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

Not challenging

MAINTAINING AND/OR INCREASING STUDENT ENROLMENT NUMBERS:

Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

Not challenging

IMPROVING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND PARENTS: 51.22%

32.93% 26.83%

Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

30.49%

Not challenging

30.49%

Very challenging

17.07% Somewhat challenging

Not challenging

INTRODUCING OR IMPROVING EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES:

MANAGING SCHOOL FINANCES:

48.78%

46.34%

20.73%

Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

28.05%

29.27%

Not challenging

Very challenging

18.29% Somewhat challenging

Not challenging

ADAPTING TO CHANGING CURRICULUM REQUIREMENTS: 56.10% 32.90% 10.98% Very challenging

Somewhat challenging

Not challenging

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SPECIAL REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS TO HELP ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES OUTLINED ABOVE? Invest in staff training and development: 76.83%

Collaborate with other education providers to improve school operations/quality of education: 74.39%

Improve or acquire new facilities or equipment: 62.20%

Develop partnerships to create opportunities for students e.g. universities, other schools, artists in residence: 57.32%

Review the structure of school operations to improve efficiency: 50%

Engage external consultants for specialist advice: 47.56% Hire more teaching and aid staff: 39.02%

Invest in new IT systems: 32.93%

Invest in marketing and communications: 23.17%

Other: 8.54%

The majority of respondents placed investing in staff training and development as a top priority to tackle the biggest challenges they face in their schools. This was followed by collaborating with other education providers to improve school operations and improving or acquiring new facilities or equipment. Other leaders placed staff concerns as their priority, specifically when it comes to using IT systems, “improving the currency of teachers’ subject skills” and “improving assessment skills of counsellors.” One respondent commented that most of the items listed are already done every year, “regardless of the challenges.”

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Another educator shared the same sentiment. “We do all of the above - I’m putting in a sensory playground and outdoor adventure playground to cater for students who are not ‘academic’ and for whom the system does not recognise or cater for. I will provide them with opportunities for positive social interaction, problem solving, creative thinking and teamwork in an environment where they are able to interact with the environment and take risks to learn life skills.” Reflecting the various environmental issues raised in 2019, one leader said they planned to address their student, staff and community’s response to the climate change crisis.


WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING HR CHALLENGES HAVE BEEN TAKING UP YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS? 56.10%

Most of the educators who answered “attracting and recruiting high-quality teachers” as their HR challenges came from schools outside metropolitan areas. “As a rural school, our staff often leave for more suburban jobs, this results in staffing taking up more of our time,” one respondent said.

54.88% 48.78% 48.7%

Another educator commented: “As a regional school we have a major shortage of available staff. We have high demand subjects like technologies and some of the arts subjects that we have to limit the classes due to teacher numbers.”

30.49% 9.76%

Other respondents also said they found it hard to look for casual teachers amid the high turnover in the profession. When it comes to retaining high-quality teachers, a respondent commented that “[g]ood quality teachers are able to move across the schools in our area more easily than under-performing teachers. So if they are displeased with the administration they move to another school.”

Evaluating and improving staff performance

Supporting teachers from a mental health perspective

Attracting and recruiting highquality teachers

Managing underperforming teachers

Retaining highquality teachers

Other

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST BARRIERS TO ACHIEVING EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY EXCELLENCE IN YOUR SCHOOL?

45.12% 42.68% 36.59% 30.49% 29.27%

When asked to share their experiences in this important area, the three recurring challenges educators faced were the lack of time, money and willing staff. “There are only so many changes you can implement at one time. We could have more new technology, but we have higher priorities with classroom pedagogy that mean technologies are often pushed to the backburner,” one respondent commented. The speedy upgrades in technology made also it hard for educators to keep up despite their willingness to adopt the technology to improve their teaching and comply with government guidelines.

18.29% 9.76%

Improving student academic performance

Insufficient budget to purchase cutting-edge technology

Equipping students with the skills they need for the future

Lack of internal expertise and knowledge to effectively implement new technology

Resistance to change from existing teaching staff

Other

“The NSW DoE has released the Maturity Framework which goes some way to self-assessing our technology directions but I would love to see case studies of successful and meaningful technologies implemented in schools that have enhanced teaching and learning outcomes and not just technology for technologies sake,” one educator explained.

Lack of time to research and implement new technology

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SPECIAL REPORT

2020 EDUCATION REPORT HOW PRESSING ARE THE FOLLOWING STUDENT CHALLENGES IN YOUR SCHOOL? Following Australia’s poor performance in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment 2018 results, more than half of the respondents found improving academic performance as the most pressing issue when it comes to student-related challenges. Some respondents however deflected this concern to teachers’ shortcomings and the overcrowded curriculum. One educator simply said: “Curriculum too full!!!!!” Others described the current education system as outdated and “does not allow for working outside a prescribed curriculum.” “I am significantly concerned that the new curriculum still ultimately has a focus on assessing content knowledge not the skills students need into the future,” one respondent said. “As we progress into the 21st century we will be in an age that we can access the information and learn on a needs basis. What our students need is have the skills to comprehend and apply the knowledge that they need at that point in their life.”

56.10%

Improving student academic performance

52.44%

Equipping students with the skills they need for the future

29.27%

Resistance to change from existing teaching staff

23.17%

Lack of time to research and implement new technology

19.51%

Insufficient budget to purchase cutting-edge technology

14.63%

Lack of internal expertise and knowledge to effectively implement new technology

10.98%

Other

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL DOING TO IMPROVE STUDENT WELLBEING? PLEASE PROVIDE DETAILS OF KEY PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES Ensuring that students are safe, well and supported is unarguably a top priority for all leaders. However, this is often easier said than done in today’s digital society, where online bullying, cybercrime and parents expressing their anger to educators through text messages and emails can complicate this goal. When asked what their school is doing to improve student wellbeing in 2020, some leaders said they would be offering counselling services and social and emotional programs while others said they would implement co-curricular activities, anti-bullying programs and mental health awareness teams across their school.

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Offer counselling services

Offer social and emotional programs across the school

Offer co-curricular activities

Anti-bullying programs

Build friendship programs

Student focus groups and mental health awareness teams; increasing contact time for teacher advisor programs

Have academic advisors on staff to “monitor data and work with kids individually”

Working closely with medical professionals; utilizing online learning.

Invest in “digital classrooms” so that students can “get ubiquitous, meaningful feedback from teachers and so parents can be better informed about their child’s progress”


WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL DOING TO IMPROVE STAFF WELLBEING? The latest Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey found 99.7% of principals work hours far beyond those recommended for positive mental and physical health. This has led to increased rates of burnout, anxiety and depression among many leaders. When asked how they intend to improve staff wellbeing at their school, respondents of the Education Report 2020 survey canvassed a range of initiatives they’re implementing. One leader has appointed a ‘director of fun’ to organise competitions and social events at their school, while others are rolling out initiatives such as weekly lunches, school-funded retreats, a reward system for staff and even an extra week’s holiday in July. Others pointed to more targeted endeavours, including a staff wellbeing committee, on-site psychologists for staff and online development courses.

• Psychologist/

• Having a “director

counsellor for staff

of fun” to organise competitions and

• Extra week holiday

social events

in July

• Weekly lunches

• Reward system

• Staff wellbeing committee • Staff events • School-funded retreats • Coffee club • Online development courses

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF MANAGING PARENT AND/OR COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS AND BEHAVIOUR? • L ack of understanding of how modern schools work and function

•U  nrealistic expectations •D  isengagement •D  ealing with aggressive parents • F acetime to discuss student needs •H  elicopter parents

Managing parent and community expectations is one of the most pressing parts of a principal’s job –h and this has been evidenced by the latest survey on principal health and wellbeing. When asked what the most challenging aspects of this were, some pointed to “a lack of understanding about how modern schools work and function”, while others cited “unrealistic expectations” and “drug-affected parents” who are difficult to reason with.

•D  rug-affected parents

PRIZE QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL FOR STUDENTS TO BE LEARNING IN 2020?

AND THE WINNER IS...

Chris Spencer “I believe students need to learn how to bounce back from both success and failure. They need to learn how to adapt their own ideas and accept the ideas of others as valid. Working as a collaborative team of varying social and academic abilities is essential” www.theeducatoronline.com | 9


This special report has been compiled by The Educator For news and information on the education space, visit www.theeducatoronline.com

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