Work Intensification in Neoliberal Times: Insights from the Australian Education System

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Scott FITZGERALD, Curtin University, Australia
Susan MCGRATH-CHAMP, University of Sydney, Australia
Meghan STACEY, University of Sydney, Australia
Rachel WILSON, University of Sydney, Australia
Karolina PARDING, Lulea University of Technology, Sweden
Al RAINNIE, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
The percentage of Australian teachers working very long hours has been increasing over the last decade. Compared to other OECD countries, a large amount of their time is spent on paperwork and general administrative work, an outcome of increased accountability measures in the country’s neoliberalised education systems. In this paper, we report on a qualitative 2017 study of school teachers’ workload in one Australian state, New South Wales. This study found that the scale of teachers’ workload has been expanded substantially through additional administrative tasks, government reporting and the pressures of standardised national and international benchmark testing. We analysed data from across a range of diverse school settings and looked for patterns of response that were related to school geography, socio-educational status, and school type (primary, secondary and central). Overall, increases in workload are felt universally: there was surprising uniformity in responses in relation to high hours of work and administrative sources of workload. This suggests that the issue is a systemic one, with a diverse and extensive policy settlement blanketing the entirety of the NSW public school landscape in a layer of increased requirements. This policy bricolage supports an overall neoliberal framework similar to other Australian states. Given the symbiotic relationship between teaching conditions and students’ opportunities to learn, these findings hold particular significance, which may extend to other educational sectors. The paper will examine the consequences of changes for processes work intensification and de-professionalization. The necessity for decisions by teachers about what components of workload excess must take priority makes this a particularly complex and demanding aspect of their work.