Research calls for school shake-up in 2021: Non-traditional teaching arrangements critical to NAPLAN gains

A sector first research report has revealed Australia’s education system needs to take a new approach to teaching arrangements to achieve greater NAPLAN results and improve educational outcomes for students year-round.

  • Schools which featured a higher proportion of part-time employment arrangements and non-traditional workforce methods, such as job-sharing, saw greater improvements in academic outcomes for their students.
  • Primary schools that achieved the greatest overall relative NAPLAN gains were more likely to have: Higher ICSEA scores; More student enrolments; Lower net recurrent income per student; A lower proportion of indigenous students and students from a Language Other Than English (LOTE) background. 
  • Primary schools, those with older workforces – especially older leadership cohorts – tended to achieve the strongest overall relative NAPLAN gains. These patterns, however, were not observed within Secondary and Combined schools.
  • Primary schools with a higher proportion of leaders with a Master’s degree as their highest qualification achieved the strongest relative NAPLAN gains. Conversely, schools within Secondary and Combined years achieved the strongest NAPLAN gains when a higher proportion of the teaching staff, rather than school leaders, held a Master’s degree as their highest qualification.

The findings come after the country’s curriculum and testing methods came under fire throughout 2020 and poses a new solution to address Australia’s declining student outcomes. The research report found that schools that featured a higher proportion of part-time employment arrangements (which may encompass non-traditional approaches such as job-sharing) saw greater improvements in academic outcomes for their students.

PeopleBench Chief Research and Insights Officer Mike Hennessy said the school workforce Tracking Insights, Data and Evidence (TIDE) Report challenges assumptions about traditional school workforce models and what is generally deemed to be ‘best practice’ staffing in Australian schools.

As we publish this report, the education sector is grappling with massive disruption and looking for the next ‘lever’ to pull to build stronger workforces and better student outcomes.

The time is right for schools to make radical change and it starts with getting the right teaching workforce in place. This new evidence suggests that using non-traditional role design to make teaching positions available to a wider range of people should be part of that mix.

The TIDE research initiative was conducted using a sample of 98 Australian Catholic and Independent schools employing a total of 5,648 staff and educating 40,000 students.

Education workforce data, analytics and research company PeopleBench compiled the Tracking Insights, Data and Evidence (TIDE) Report to investigate the connections between school workforce factors and student outcomes to identify trends and issues that will enable school leaders to build better school workforces.  

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