‘As much as i love being in the classroom …’: Understanding secondary English teachers’ workload
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- English in Australia, 2018, 53 (3), pp. 5 - 22
- Issue Date:
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© 2018, AATE - Australian Association Teaching English. All rights reserved. This paper reports on the findings of a study of 211 secondary school English teachers in New South Wales, Australia. The study aimed to gather data on English teachers’ work and lives, including their perspectives on workload, motivation, work satisfaction, wellbeing, and career intentions. In an educational environment dominated by a culture of ‘performativity’ (Ball, 2003, p. 216) manifested through the institutionalising of standards-based systems designed to codify, measure and judge teacher quality, the views and voices of teachers themselves are too often marginalised or absent from research and policy debates. In this paper, we represent English teachers’ perspectives on their work and lives and draw attention to the impact of an intensified workload on their capacity for quality teaching and continued investment in teaching as a career. The findings highlight a range of professional and situated factors (Day et al., 2006) experienced by teachers as a consequence of: administrative and accountability compliance demands associated with monitoring and reporting of teacher and student performance; high-stakes test preparation, associated data gathering, administration, and heightened expectations from the school executive, students, parents and the wider community; the speed of centralised curriculum change and policy reform; and diminished resources and support, including inadequate support for implementing new curriculum. The phenomenon of an intensified and excessive workload was perceived to be the single most determinant factor in impeding English teachers’ desire to focus on the ‘core business’ of teaching to their best. The paper calls for urgent attention to teacher workload and its far-reaching implications for quality teaching, student learning and the retention and support of high-calibre teachers in the profession.
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