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New wellbeing policy helps teachers switch off after work


New wellbeing policy helps teachers switch off after work

NSW teachers will be able to switch off their devices after school and enjoy uninterrupted personal time under a new policy.

The new policy, announced by the NSW Department of Education, follows reports showing school staff are struggling with intensifying workplace demands and burnout.

A major inquiry into the teaching profession in NSW found there had been “profound changes” in the volume and complexity of teachers’ work since the previous inquiry in 2004, and that this had led to “unsustainable workloads to the detriment of teachers’ core responsibilities of teaching and learning”.

However, under the Department’s new Expectations for Digital Communications policy principals and other executive leaders will not send emails, messages or contact staff outside regular school operating hours unless it’s an emergency, and the new rules will be communicated by principals to parents and carers throughout their school communities.

Helping teachers establish boundaries

The change will be rolled out gradually over the current term with each principal encouraged to find a way that works for their school.

“The digital technologies that were key to our success during lockdowns and continue to provide amazing learning opportunities have made it hard for teachers to establish boundaries,” Deputy Premier and NSW Education Minister Prue Car said.

“I have heard from teachers during my many visits to schools last year the impact digital communications have had on what was previously personal time.”

Car said the new policy complements other measures aimed at supporting and retaining NSW teachers, addressing burnout and lifting the attractiveness of teaching as a profession.

“This follows last year’s increase to teachers’ salaries, the largest in NSW in almost three decades.”

‘A great result for public education’

Amber Flohm, Deputy President NSW Teachers Federation said addressing the fundamental causes of burnout through workload is “critical”.

“A properly rested and recharged teacher is better for our schools and better for our students. Policies such as this will ultimately help plug the teacher shortage in NSW and address the ongoing attraction and retention of our teachers,” Flohm said.

“This is a victory for teachers, but an even bigger victory for public education in New South Wales. Too many teachers are leaving the profession as a result of burnout from their unsustainable workload. This measure will help address the teacher shortage and attraction and retention of teachers.”

Yvonne Hilsz, P&C Federation President, said the announcement of the new policy is a “great result for public education.”

“The NSW P&C Federation supports teachers being empowered to switch off, understanding that parents and carers still have the ability to contact their teachers at a time that suits them,” Hilsz said.

“We know that parent, teacher communication is vitally important for student outcomes.”

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