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Reducing Teacher Workload Must Be Part Of The Solution To Improve Education

Increasing pressures on teachers, burnout, staffing shortages and an intensifying need to equip this generation of learners – and beyond – with appropriate skills for a digitally-driven future are critical concerns within the education sector here in New Zealand and in Australia.

The 2022 Grattan Institute Report found that more than 90% of teachers don’t have enough time to prepare for effective teaching – a fundamental necessity of the job. The survey points out that our students are not being given the best opportunities possible for learning, which correlates with Australia’s consistently declining PISA test results over the past 15 years.

So, how bad are the authorities willing to let things get before they realise what’s truly at stake?

While we wait for them to figure it out, Wiri Warriner, Deputy Principal of Teaching and Learning at Massey High School in New Zealand thinks he may have found a way to help address the crisis. “While it does not resolve the problem of teacher shortages and excessive workload crippling our school education system, technology has helped us to ease the burden for teachers and to focus more time on student engagement and differentiation.”

If the past two years have taught us anything, there’s no denying that technology has a vital role to play in solving key issues within the education sector.

“We need to start looking at the tools that are out there that can shoulder some of the burden,” says Rebecca Stooke, Science teacher at Mount St Benedict College, Sydney. “There are better ways to work that help alleviate some of the pressure. Many teachers are familiar with PowerPoint and OneNote for content creation, and tools like Education Perfect are excellent for monitoring student progress and performance. Digital assessment and automatic marking has not only saved me time but has also given me much greater insight into my student’s capabilities, meaning, I can more effectively use my class time.”

Anna Barnes, Maths teacher at Loyola College, Melbourne is also embracing technology to gain back a better work life balance. “I plan digitally and I’m almost nearly paperless in my classroom, which means no wasted time at photocopiers. I use programs like OneNote and Education Perfect to assist with lesson creation, junior assessment and differentiation which has improved my planning and marking load.”

Deputy Principal Warriner agreed, “We have been using Education Perfect at our school for multiple years as our teaching and learning technology solution for all core subjects and for languages.”

When approached for comment, CEO Alex Burke from New Zealand-based Education Perfect (EP) was pleased to hear of the positive impact the company was having; “Reducing teacher workload must be part of the solution to improve our children’s education and technology is going to play a key role in that.” This is something Burke plans to discuss with New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, as well as other New Zealand and Australian leaders when he joins a special delegation to the Australian and New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) this week.

Alex Burke & Jacinda Adern

It is within this context that Education Perfect continues to invest and expand, recently launching a new breakthrough product to assist teachers and students in senior years in secondary school across Maths, Science, English, and Languages. Customisable curriculum-specific content with advanced student data insights, assessment and personalised next steps for students means teachers can identify learning needs early and put appropriate strategies in place to ensure that students are comprehending and completing course work at the pace required for graduation. This translates into more time for meaningful student/teacher interactions.

Mark Barron, Head of Year 12 at Corpus Christi College, Perth commented, “Technology plays an integral role in teaching and learning in today’s society. Used effectively, it can improve student outcomes and streamline teacher planning and delivery. Engaging, auto-marked content, which can be delivered by a non-specialist teacher, whilst still providing a snapshot of student performance and progress plays a huge part in the reduction of teacher workload.”

Burke acknowledges, “While this is not a whole-of-sector solution, the tools we have developed can contribute significantly to reducing pressure on teachers. These tools can be implemented simply and quickly. We really can’t wait any longer to get these solutions into classrooms to assist teachers. We’re letting students down and, in doing so, in many ways, we’re failing to prepare the next generation for a digitally-led world.”

Burke adds, “Education Perfect is a local company working globally. We’ve used Australian and New Zealand talent and innovation to build an impressive suite of resources. We definitely have the capability here across the trans-Tasman to lead the world in this area, and we’re ready to do it.”

EP has also embarked on philanthropic partnerships with charitable organisations such as The Smith Family in Australia, the Cambodian Children’s Fund and the Ideas Academy in Malaysia to provide equitable access to education for children no matter where they live or what their socio-economic status. This mission is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

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