PPTA President

Image Angela Roberts PPTA president 2013-2014

News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.

(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)



Time to value teacher time

PPTA president Angela Roberts challenges the disregard with which policy makers treat teacher time.

Teacher time is a limited resource
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that there is a common underlying cause of many of the workload crises building in schools across the country - a complete lack of awareness of the concept that teacher time is a limited and very valuable resource.

The idea that time is a limited resource and that there is an opportunity cost to be considered whenever you are deciding what to do with your time is a fairly simple concept to grasp. Simple enough, even for my junior Economics students to understand.

Teacher time has a cost
If teacher time were treated like cash we might see the workload of teachers change considerably. If those determining policy (within the ministry or NZQA, for example) had to consider the cost of any new or changed initiatives in terms of teacher time, we would surely see things play out a little differently in schools.

If an initiative were going to cost a school say, $50,000, due diligence would be done. What will we stop funding in order to pay for this? Where is the evidence that this will even work? Where is our implementation plan to ensure that the money is spent effectively and that none is wasted? How will we evaluate the spending to check if we want to continue to fund the initiative in the future? After all, schools do not have an unlimited supply of cash.

Education initiatives impact on teacher workload
In contrast, I see little evidence of schools being supported to work through those very issues when the cost is “just” teacher time. When I hear members grumble about new initiatives (professional learning groups, academic mentoring, individualised NCEA programmes, to name just a few) it is rarely a debate about the initiative itself. It is more a question of how anyone expects the extra work to be done effectively when it lands on top of a lot of other work. Many of these ideas have the potential to enhance school life if only they were properly resourced; if only they provided teachers with the time required to do them.