Union survey highlights data overload

The IEU has recently concluded an action research study into the effects of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) process on teacher workloads, and the delivery of support to students and classroom teachers in schools.

Teachers and support staff across the state alerted the IEU to serious concerns during early and mid-2020. In response, the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch formed a working group of members involved with the NCCD process in schools, and engaged the services of Michael Elphick and Associates to develop a widespread survey that was distributed across NSW and the ACT in September 2020.

The Report on the Nationally Consistent Collection of DATA (NCCD) process in NSW and ACT schools is the result of that survey. You can find the full copy of the report on our website.

Nominated learning support teachers in 330 schools registered to participate in the research. In addition to providing quantitative data, the participants volunteered over 830 comments, describing the difficulties within the process that intensify workload to unsustainable levels and impact negatively on practical support for students with additional learning needs.

After being approved by the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Executive on 6 March, the report was launched at the Term 1 IEU Council meeting on 20 March. Council unanimously endorsed the report and the subsequent follow up actions.

The recommendations from the report are as follows:

  • Measures should be taken to staff the NCCD process appropriately at the school level.
  • Staffing ratios need to be sufficient to allow the core role of learning support to take place.
  • Release time should take into account the workload impact of the NCCD process, in addition to regular programming and assessment responsibilities.
  • Exemplars to be provided and published on the NCCD website to provide clarity around the evidence template requirements and avoid layering of expectations.
  • Schools and systems to review documentation and processes to ensure that they are not exceeding the requirements of the NCCD.
  • The school’s information or learning management system would ordinarily contain the necessary student information for the NCCD, and other purposes, for both classroom teachers and learning support staff. Any requirements to provide additional documentation, eg personalised planning tools, are superfluous and contribute to unnecessary workloads.
  • Eliminate or substantially reduce the requirements associated with eternal reporting on students in the quality differentiated teaching practice (QDTP) category.
  • Evidentiary requirements should be streamlined across all categories. In particular, the annual and recurring evidentiary requirements for students likely to remain in the in the NCCD Extensive category should be subject to review.
  • Refine the evidence management process and improve the efficiency of the digital platform in order to reduce the need for ongoing and extensive PD related to the NCCD. This should allow learning support staff to concentrate on PD that relates to their core role of supporting students with disability.
  • Ensure that any necessary system or version upgrades to the digital platform are minimal and are enacted prior to the point when users will be expected to engage with the platform. The capacity to allow the bulk uploading of data should be facilitated.

Work is underway to engage with government agencies and employer groups to advance the recommendations of the report. There have been numerous meetings between the union, Department of Education and Catholic authorities during the past 18 months, with more planned this year.

We will be compiling a database of responses from various employers and agencies in order to track any improvements or otherwise in the process, and will look at the possibility of conducting a follow up survey later in the year with the intention of tracking changes.

Veronica Yewdall
Education Co-ordinator Professional Officer