Part-time teaching in Victorian government schools: The policy frameworks and the dilemmas facing school leaders

Carly Sawatzki, Paul Richardson

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


This paper discusses the findings of research examining the various interrelated documents that constitute the DEECD work-life policy framework and the dilemmas school leaders face as they seek to accommodate an increasing number of requests by teachers wanting to work part-time. The aim of this research was to address the question: ʻWhat are the difficulties in securing parttime work as a teacher?ʼ Bronfenbrennerʼs Ecological Systems Theory (1979) provided the theoretical framework for this research. Foucaultʼs (1972) approach to discourse analysis was also drawn upon to examine how power and knowledge are utilised, created and sustained in the DEECD work-life policy framework. A key focus of this research was the power relations evident between policy developer (the DEECD and its consultants), policy enactors (school leaders) and policy beneficiaries (teachers) when the policy is implemented. This study was conducted in two parts. First, the DEECDʼs work-life policy framework was
critiqued. Second, to understand how Victorian government school leaders are meeting requests by teachers wanting to work part-time, a small sample of 7 school leaders were interviewed. The findings confirmed that increasing numbers of teachers want to work part-time to balance work with caring for their children, to undertake phased retirement or because they feel that working part-time will enable them to achieve greater health and well-being.
The school leaders reported facing a range of dilemmas when faced requests by teachers wanting to work part-time. These included the timetable, the question whether job-sharing works for teaching and learning; and difficulties scheduling face-to-face communication forums in line with part-time teacher availability.
The current model of school organisation that seeks to strike a balance between teacher availability and student learning outcomes by way of a timetable based on one teacher per class seems to impede flexibility. The findings of this study indicate that a more innovative model is required to balance the work needs and preferences of 21st Century teachers with the learning needs of 21st Century students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAARE 2011 Conference Proceedings
EditorsJan Wright
Place of PublicationHobart
PublisherAustralian Association for Research in Education (AARE)
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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