In its report, entitled Better, Smarter Regulation, CSNSW said the ratio of students to administrative staff in its system had grown from 130 to one in 1990, to 55.6 last year.
But “teachers continue to report an increase in their work hours and increasingly unmanageable administrative demands,” it said. Catholic principals say they are managing about 200 different school policies.
“Some principals estimate that [administration] takes at least one full day of work per week.”
There have been similar concerns from teachers and principals in the public system, who say their time is increasingly being directed away from students to paperwork.
Chief executive of CSNSW Dallas McInerney said state and federal governments both made election commitments to address red tape in education.
“We want to let our teachers be teachers, we want our school leaders to lead schools, and to be less concerned with these other government requirements that increasingly take up a big part of the day,” he said.
“Some of the pressures we’ve identified are common to schools, no matter what sector. We want to reorient government attention to this critical need, which they themselves have identified.
“It’s one thing to complain, but it’s incumbent on us to be constructive with our feedback and give them a tangible set of recommendations. We don’t want to escape accountability, but we want to enrich the professional experience of our teachers.”
Many of the recommendations are directed to the NSW Education Standards Authority, which governs schools across the three sectors.
They range from simplifying reporting protocols for data collection on students with a disability, to asking NESA to clarify which school directives are mandatory and which are advisory.
A spokesman for Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said: “The government is working on a number of reforms in areas referenced by this report. We are looking forward to reading the report in its entirety and will consider the recommendations in due course.”
The report recommended making some COVID-related changes permanent, such as “giving principals the authority to decide which syllabus outcomes and content they teach and assess for kindergarten to year 10.”
It also called on the Commonwealth government to relax its demand for reporting to parents using an A-E scale.
Mr McInerney said CSNSW had consulted its principals, teachers and the Independent Education Union about the report.
Craig Petersen from the Secondary Principals Council, which represents public school principals, agreed with many of the recommendations, such as simplifying teacher accreditation processes and scrapping school annual reports.
He also agreed that schools should be given more flexibility on how to report to parents, rather than the A-E system mandated by the Commonwealth.
But he said it was too soon to call for COVID-related changes to the syllabus. “That’s probably premature,” he said. “I’d want to see how the evaluation of this year has gone.”
Mr Petersen would also be concerned about school discretion in year 11 assessments. “If you go too far down that path, you remove any consistency and comparability between schools, especially if a student needs to rely on their year 11 assessment for the HSC,” he said.
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Jordan Baker is Education Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald