The increasing amount of paperwork and compliance has long been a source of frustration for Kiwi teachers, but today Education Minister Chris Hipkins says they are aiming to cut some of the red tape in schools that is preventing teachers from actually teaching.
A taskforce has finished the first stage of identifying significant areas of compliance waste in schools – so teachers have more time to teach, and principals more time to lead schools.
Teacher and principals have told the Government that freeing up administrative workload will lift job satisfaction and increase the time they can devote to actual teaching.
“The taskforce of school principals and other sector leaders came up with 200 suggestions of areas where there are opportunities to reduce waste in time and resources when complying with ‘paperwork’,” Chris Hipkins says.
“These have been whittled down to around 45 potential opportunities, and the taskforce will now work with the sector to refine and develop them further.”
The opportunities include stopping, reducing the frequency of, or changing the timing of compliance activities. They include:
- Streamlining processes for schools in building projects and maintenance issues
- Developing new online services to speed up the process for schools to apply for funds and grants and to register as teachers.
- Making the reporting requirements for physical restraint incidents easier to comply with.
“This is a genuine and serious attempt to cut unnecessary red tape,” Hipkins says.
“So far, the group has focused mainly on system-wide, centrally-imposed areas of compliance.
“During the next stage there is an opportunity for principals and Boards of Trustees to also look closely at schools’ internal practices.
“A school’s size and whether it’s rural or urban can have a huge impact on the compliance it has to deal with, so I’m giving my permission and encouragement to schools to think hard about ways to safely streamline their activities where they think it makes sense.”
Hipkins say many major projects already underway will have a significant impact on the compliance workload of principals and teachers.
“For example, the abolition of National Standards reduces workload, the NCEA Review has a focus on the workload for secondary teachers, while the Tomorrow’s Schools review is addressing issues principals have in managing schools.
“We’re encouraging new ideas from across the whole sector about how we can re-examine practices to be more efficient in achieving great outcomes for schools and students,” he says.
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is applauding the move by Government.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says “Schools and education get caught up in paperwork and bureaucracy just the rest of government. Chris Hipkins should be applauded for making an effort to cut waste from the system.
“Reducing the responsibilities and compliance related to property management is an obvious way for principals to spend more time on education outcomes and less time managing buildings and property,” says the union’s executive director Jordan Williams.
“It’s too early to tell whether all of the suggestions will be useful, but taking on the problem of paperwork-overload is good news for taxpayers who want to pay teachers to teach, not to fill in forms.”