[NSW] Primary School Online Teaching - Only 20 Mins Per Week

I recently found out from a collegue of mine that her daughter in Year 1, currently attending a public school on the north shore, gets 20 minutes of online "class" time with her teacher per week. This 20 minutes is where the whole class joins online together and they do a fun activity (nothing to do with learning). Other learning activities are posted on google class where the parents are required to teach the students.

I find this incredibily lazy on the teacher/ schools behalf. There's no scenario that plays out in my head where the teacher could have more lesson planning or marking load now. Is this happening state wide? Keen for teachers and parents to weigh in.

p.s 20 minutes per week is confirmed.

Edit 1: Thanks for all the input. It seems to be that our teachers are putting their best foot forward. Any disgruntled parents, have a read of some of the comments. To further the conversation, what's the solution? What are some of the things that could be done at home to make this work?


  • +44

    My kids have 30 min per day with a teacher on Zoom. Plus they can ask the teacher questions at any time. They also get written/audio feedback for each of the activities they do during the day. Do that for 25 kids and it can easily take the whole day.

    • +14

      25 kids at 30mins each is 12.5hours a day.

      That’s before all the extra crap that goes into planning a day, uploading information, marking etc afterwards.

      This whole school at home thing is difficult for students as it is teachers.

      • +22

        30 mins call per day is for whole class not with 1 student.

        • +1

          Do that for 25 kids and it can easily take the whole day.


    • +1

      Private school vic: Primary school kids, zoom ranges 2-4 hours. But you still have the private school parents whinging that they don't get a fee discount - I'm thinking the hours are only this high on zoom because the school wants to make it seem good value at the risk of ruining the kids eyesight.

      There is honestly too much pressure from the parents on things they don't understand.

      Friend in public school gets 10mins per class then the work/play.

      ***Regardless, online classes are VERY taxing on the teachers - even for our work online is annoying af.

      Also, I don't like the longer hours on the ipads/zoom, ruins their eyesight.

      When it this pans out, definitely going to be a HUGE leap in the numbers of short sighted kids - have already confirmed (anecdotally) with a few optoms, big jump in kids getting short sighted.

      Unless your kids are in year 11-12, and even more so in primary school - I would consider time off zoom/meets/teams a blessing.

      Not sure what to do? Read a book!

  • +1

    Yeah once a week seems a bit light on. Sounds like it's just to maintain relationships/socialise?

    Our daughter is in kindy and has a 20 minute zoom once per day for Initialit. And one extra literature class on Mondays.

  • +8

    My kids have 30 min Zoom session at the start of the day with full class. Then they do their google classroom activities. In the afternoon, they have a small group Zoom - maybe 6 kids and the teacher to discuss how they are feeling and coping with lockdown.

    Edit: this is in Victoria - year 4 and 5

    • +4

      This is impressive and looks like you have a good teacher, that seems a good way to keep the kids engaged.

  • +12

    This isn't the case for high schools, in case anyone was wondering. High school students have to have a 50-60min Zoom every/most lesson for every subject.

    • Not in my son high school ..they only have a get together zoom 30 mins each Tuesday and hes around bankstown Sydney

      • +1

        This is the problem. We are into so many months of the pandemic but Education board still doesn't have consistent online teaching across whole state.

        • Local schools, local decisions…

          Department has been using it for a few years now as an excuse not to provide direction.

    • +6

      False. I'm a high school teacher and every school is different.

      • It must be difficult for teachers such as yourself when there is no format that is across all schools.

    • +2

      This. I am a high school teacher and have to zoom the class every lesson.
      My own kids in primary sçhool only get a morning zoom and then I can't help them through the day because I am teaching.

      • This. State planning has completely ignored the double burden of being a teacher with children learning at home.

    • Every school is different. As a high school teacher myself, we are expected to teach between 20-50 mins each period. Monday is set aside for marking and preparation as well as curriculum meetings so junior students (7-9) get tasks to complete.

  • +7

    Sounds like a misconstrued friend of a friend situation with the messaging.

    I don't think any school would get away with 20 minutes a week.

      • +6

        Sounds like it might be different where you are, but it's certainly not how it's done here - online sessions are held at least once a day for primary school, often twice a day.

    • +2

      Varies by school.

      My daughter is in year 1 in a public school on the northern beaches. She gets no zoom sessions with her class or teacher at all. The parents even organised a zoom catch up for the kids to see each other and asked if the teacher could join and while the teacher asked permission, they were told no because the school had decided no zoom sessions for K-1.

      A work plan and resources are uploaded Sunday night and available for collection in printed form from the school during the week. If you take photos / upload copies of the work the teacher will send a minute or so long video every few days commenting on the work done. That’s it, no direct ‘real time’ communication with the teacher so far this term.

      In contrast, another public school 5 minutes away and they have half an hour a day zoom sessions with the teacher for the same year group.

      • This is our experience too

      • Same for us, year 2, Sydney West.

    • I'm in QLD and not once when in lockdown has my primary school child had a face to face or group class zoom or teams meeting. Apparently it will be introduced in the next lockdown but the onus has been on me getting him through his day.

  • -1

    My daughter in yr 10 last yr had 1 hour with teacher in morning, then "email me if you need me".. to which rarely there was a reply within hour or 2 until parents spat the dummy.
    Year 10…. not kinder.

      • +10

        Probably how he expects a response to emails within an hour.

    • +2

      Jesus 1-2 hour reply to emails. I tried running some zoom classes and it took me sometimes 30 minutes to get around to someone 3rd in the queue… of about 11…

  • What! Every week?

    • +40

      I thought this might be a joke when I read your post.
      So your kids get individual review and comments on their work and daily texts from the teacher and your complaint is that is lazy?
      If they spend just 15mins on each kid that is 7.5 hours a day for 30 child class, plus whatever they are doing for kids that are having trouble.

      What would you have them be doing? Running an 8hour a day group zoom so that nobody gets any learning done, but you can see the teacher is visible?

      • -13

        If they spend just 15mins on each kid that is 7.5 hours a day

        They should be spending time with the whole class, not with individual kids… It is class time, not tutoring time.

        Teachers should be teaching, not telling kids to watch youtube videos.

        • +1

          how are they meant to then know what youtube videos to watch if teachers don't tell them?

          Some videos are inaccurate/poor quality

        • +2

          There is more to school than just teaching. Kids go to school to socialise, they have fun with friends; the 30-minutes per day of Zoom tries to bring some of that socialising back into their lives during lockdown when they can't visit their friends.

          • +2


            the 30-minutes per day of Zoom tries to bring some of that socialising back into their lives

            So does Discord.

            Teachers need to do more teaching

            • @jv: shiouldn't kid's just read twenty thousand leagues under the sea on their own

        • +2

          I don't know why jv got so many negs for this comment. He is just sayi g it should not be individual sessions but with whole class as it is teaching and not private tutoring.
          Yes watching some YouTube content which have been approved for all school for that year is fine but it should be mostly online group teaching.

          • +7


            I don't know why jv got so many negs for this comment.

            I think there are too many teachers reading this on OzBargain instead of teaching…

        • Teachers should be teaching, not telling kids to watch youtube videos.

          For my kids, it's a combination… and part of the youtube videos are made by the teachers to explain things.
          You need to also realise, this is new for school teachers. Yes, NSW Department of Education has an online school and resources, but this is new for them too.

          I spoke to a teacher at my kid's school… she wants nothing more than being in front of the classroom again, be teaching kids classroom style. Don't think this is fun for them.

          • +1


            You need to also realise, this is new for school teacher

            Not in VIC… They've been doing it for almost 2 years now…

        • +1

          Why is this so down-voted? The only sane comment I've found in this dystopian thread.
          I assumed they'd have zoom open all day and be conducting a classroom as normal but over zoom!

      • +2

        it's more like 2-3 minutes per kid. it's not a "review all work", it's just one comment on one part of the work - that's all. 3 mins x 30 kids = 90 minutes.
        What they could have one or 2 zoom call every or even 2 videos by the teacher explaining something or actually teaching. You do realize that before lockdown, that same teacher looked after the whole class all day teaching not giving them assignments and reviewed full homework for all of them every week

      • +6

        I don't think people understand how difficult it is to run things over zoom.

        I work with children in a different industry and it requires a whole new skill set to manage productively. In person, things just flow. You can manage engagement and participation, but over Zoom, it's very difficult to get it back once the child has become bored. Children love screen time, but they are used to watching YouTube videos full of music and bright colours and not someone with a beige apartment background trying to get them to do stuff they'd rather not do.

        People assume these teachers are sitting there for 20 minutes and then pouring a glass of wine - I can guarantee they feel as though they are working much harder and are likely spending each day looking for new activities or adapting existing lesson content.

        In saying that, I can agree that it is not ideal for child development and learning. We are going to have a generation of kids with interrupted social skills and wide gaps in their knowledge.

        While it would be a difficult and expensive exercise, it would be nice to see the DoE roll out some kind of standardized lesson plan that can be a rough guide and adapted by teachers.

        • They have (at least for primary), it's accessible by all nsw public teachers.

          The problem is that will create gaps in learning as schools have individual schedules for their curriculum, meaning it isn't always taught in the same order.

  • +38

    I heard the teachers were kissing in the closet then they made a baby and the baby looked at me.

    Considering primary teachers have a single class, do you think it is true the teacher is doing nothing except 30mins a week?
    Or perhaps what you heard was part of the story that went more like:
    Having 30 six year olds on a simultaneous zoom call is not an effective way to teach, so we only do that for a limited time each week for non-academic work.
    Instead, we have targeted sessions where the kids who are well supported by their parents to learn autonomously using google classroom resources etc. can progress on their own schedule, with closer support for those that don’t
    This means the kids that need more help get it and the kids who are doing fine aren’t held back.

    Now I don’t know if that is the case, but it sure sounds more reasonable than the idea the teachers are drinking cocktails by the pool except for 30mins a week.

    • +12

      gee i wonder how online resources appear in google classroom or seesaw, that wouldn't be time consuming at all.
      Let alone providing different version of activities to cater for different levels and also providing take home packs for students who do not have access to the internet.
      And planning, how about you throw a terms lesson plan upside down to cater to a different delivery of teaching and finding and making resources to support this.

  • +54

    Primary teacher here - we were required to be available 30 minutes a day to 'check-in' with students. Spent the rest of the day marking work, creating learning tasks, giving individual feedback etc. Sadly there is mountains of other behind the scenes admin work in teaching.

    What they are required to do will be set by their teaching system/school - my school system avoids use of Zoom Calls and excessive video contact/chat with students etc.

    I doubt they are lazing around sipping cocktails.

    At home learning made me realise that teaching is still a full-time job even without any kids around! I think it's a good eye-opener for some parents that like to have a go at teachers/schools but then struggle to teach/motivate their own children - we have to do that every single day for 5 hours x30 students.

    • +11

      Primary teacher here - we were required to be available 30 minutes a day to 'check-in' with students. Spent the rest of the day marking work, creating learning tasks, giving individual feedback etc. Sadly there is mountains of other behind the scenes admin work in teaching.

      My schools are in the worst hit lockdown LGAs in Sydney. One of my primary schools are doing 2x hourly zooms a week with their classes. Like you said, the rest of the time, it's marking and making individual contact with students on phone or SeeSaw. The admin work is appauling and ridiculous.

      Not only that, I've noticed that teachers are taking up added responsibilities of welfare issues. Our families have never been well off and most are at breaking point being without work for the last 2 months. Teachers have been organising and sending care packages home alongside learning resources including books, stationary, technology etc. They're also trying to plan practical activities for kids to do with whatever resources they have at home and they did amazing with Science Week last week.

      I feel for everyone, especially school aged children who have missed nearly a whole year of face-to-face schooling and all the social and developmental benefits that come with schooling. Hopefully we can get back to some normality but the numbers aren't looking good.

      • We live in bankstown and my yr 8 son only does 30 min zoom get together every tuesday but thats just for a bit of fun but nothing daily …if they have questions they email teacher and most are very responsive

      • +2

        Not only that, I've noticed that teachers are taking up added responsibilities of welfare issues. Our families have never been well off and most are at breaking point being without work for the last 2 months.

        This, heaps of teachers I know go well above and beyond for students and families, often working 50-60 hour weeks unpaid. Then they are mocked and ridiculed while there are those in society they try to rip people off (look at plumber post) or just get as much money as they can through any means necessary (corruption, scams, owning all the property they can etc.). They're the type who'll comment 'welcome to the real world'. Well no, as we see, the world actually contains people who aren't greed driven, have morals and actually try to make it a better place.

    • +2

      Easy for you to say for > some parents that like to have a go at teachers

      Are you doing your partners full time role at the same time? Keeping the kids sane + teaching + my own full time work is pretty dam full on.

      • +1

        I'm teaching 30 students, looking after a 9 month old and supporting my partner with her job - I understand what 'full on' involves. Most parents are totally supportive of teachers and I thank them for this. To generalise the rare-few that criticise usually are the ones whose kids are the most needy in the classroom. I won't comment any further on the links there….

    • Worried about the math here Dave. 5 hours X 30 students? Really?

      • +1

        I think that was an 'effort' multiplier, not time…

        • +1

          One would hope! I'm sure no teacher even here can claim a 150 hour day!

          • +2

            @seraphim2017: No was pretty clearly referring to effort and the number of students in the class multiplied by the number of hours each day. I unfortunately don't get paid for a 150 hour day! Fun fact - teachers get paid for 25-30 hour weeks. I think we do get compensated quite well for this time, I'm on about $70 an hour.

            One extra hour of 'unpaid' preparation/marking/admin each day - which is the absolute minimum any teacher can get away with and still be competent to hold down a roll - is 50 hours a Term….pretty much equal to our (paid)holidays.

            Also have read your other uninformed comments about 'additional needs' and teachers not caring nor being qualified - you obviously have no idea about the hours and hours of unpaid paperwork, meetings and individual planning schools and teachers already have to do for such students because of the NCCD scheme.

            Teachings not an easy profession mate - neither is healthcare, neither is retail, neither is being a stay-at-home Mum - it's not a competition so lets not judge yeah?

  • +7

    Sydney Northshore - Government School - Kindy

    30min daily zoom
    Ridiculous amount of activities on seesaw
    Personalized responses to every task

    My kiddo was feeling upset, missing her teacher I so asked if they could zoom her, instead they called for had a 20min private phone call about what was up.

    • +4

      Yeah, but that's something that actually happened.

      The "a friend of a friend of a friend told me they get 2 minutes a week and they get to play Roblox during it" is more clickworthy.

    • Which school is this? My daughters school in same area kindy only 2x 30mins a week

      • Lindfield Learning Village

    • You probably get more out of playschool, youtube and local library storytime, but then public school expects parents to put in time every day and help their kids with homework. They don't expect kids to do everything. Check with your teacher the minimum amount of work they need to submit and the difficulty you encounter. Choose some easy tasks to start with, it will get better gradually.

      My son is in year 2, the first two weeks I spent long time to make sure he gets the work done. After that, he learnt how to login himself daily, checked the timetable, clicked on links to read and completed his homework and uploaded them on seesaw. Much easily once you are familiar with the tasks and know the teacher's expectation.

  • +3

    OP's username checks out.

    Now imagine this person as a parent at a private school. Purgatory right there.

  • +1

    In all seriousness, I prefer no zoom lesson. My kind kids teachers do instructional videos, then we complete work sheets, booklets together. I feel like a teacher's aide so much easier than being a teacher.

  • +14

    Tell your "friend" to ring the school and discuss it with the school. Problem solved.

    "There's no scenario that plays out in my head where the teacher could have more lesson planning or marking load now." - It's actually worse now.

    What would take me 1/2 an hour to mark at school now takes more than 4 hours due to the way the technology works.

    What would take me 20 minutes to explain face to face in the classroom and then help individual students can now take multiple hours as not only do we need to have an online version but we also need to provide offline versions for those students who need printed copies as they have no internet or computers at home. We also have students with learning difficulties in classes so they also need different versions as well so they can access the work as required by the disability act. Multiply this by 4 or 5 classes a day and if it the day you are rostered on at work, you need to do this plus provide supervision as well.

    • An interesting post thank you, and it does shed light on the constraints of technology for teachers who are trying their best.

      But believe me, most schools don't want to know, we've been fighting for assistance with additional needs for 4 years and have gotten lip service from school 'management'.

      • Which needs and which system (public/private)?

        In my experience teachers spend an insane amount of time trying to get that support for their students. Having a student with additional needs is just that, additional needs. Those needs have to be catered for somehow and if we can't access support, those needs come out of our time or out of the class time of the other students.

        The biggest problems come when schools are allocated 5 spots to cover 20 students and we have to pick who gets the limited spots. Or 1 aide is hired to cover 30 students in different classes for 1 day a week. The 'management' then has to pick with teachers basically fighting for why their student should be it. Or when the department will only 'fund' a student's needs if they have exactly the right checkboxes filled from the pediatrician who is booked out for the next year.

        We (I've seen very few teachers who aren't) are constantly fighting for more support, more time, and more funding for students. Its something to remember when the subject of strikes comes up later this year. The media will focus on the pay rise and demonise teachers for taking away education after an already disruptive year, but the big targets are the conditions, the support and the time to properly cater for the complex needs of many students.

        At times I've felt like part of the covid response feels like it may well be government setting the playing field before the strikes that were threatened happen. After a multiple month shut down, sentiment isn't going to be with teachers if we refuse to work and demand better conditions when so many can't or are only just getting back to work when forced to have their kids at home again. The union was threatening the biggest action ever in Term 4 if negotiations weren't held for the latest inquiry into teaching work loads.

        • A thoughtful post and appreciated. You know, I'd be with teachers striking for the opportunity to do better by the kids under their care. I don't imagine teachers ever start out looking for an easy ride, you have to have passion to teach it or you'd be out in 2 years, especially with the bureacracy it involves.

          And despite my negative personal experiences trying to get the school to do their part to assist us, I don't think teachers are shut down in any way (at least, not the majority of them), they're just completely unprepared, and totally unsupported by their departmental body, to deliver teaching in the ways the pandemic limitations have presented. It's a condition of the public service being loaded with policy officers over practitioners, and it's not just education it's almost all sectors that frown upon practice and passion over policy.

          Our experience has been, even pre covid, total lip service, nothing followed through. Because we didn't know how you have to 'game' the system, which seems wrong, the school hasn't even followed through on the clinical intervention recommended in school support or ILP. It won't be everyones experience and I believe that as with every profession there will be a wide range from passionate teachers through to those disenfranchised ones.

  • +9

    Imagine having a child then complaining about having to educate it to.

    If the lesson is provided for you, get on with it.

    I predict OP also provides a tablet with YouTube to occupy the child when it's otherwise demanding outside of school hours. Screen time is bad for their eyes, the teacher is doing you a favour.

    • +2

      educate it to


      • +10

        …to a level of grammatical proficiency where they know the difference between 'to and too'

      • -1

        Imagine having a class you are paid for and then complaining about have to teach it too?

        No one is saying it's the teachers role to educate kids alone, it's a partnership. I'm also sure some (maybe lots) of teachers would want to do more but departmental policy prevents it, as child engagement is key, not spending time hunting down YouTube replacements for lessons.

        But lesson planning is and has always been done by teachers between classes and before and after school, at least my friends who are teachers tell me so, they do a 40-42 hour week. Lesson planning is the same it is only delivery that is different.

  • -3

    and? everyone with school-aged kids is doing it tough. No need for the judgments.

  • +24

    Troll post by someone that doesn’t understand the high workload of teachers right now. (Expletive) off.

    • -14

      Teachers should be teaching

      There are lots (not all) out there at the moment not doing their job…

      • +5

        Way off the mark from the experience I've been seeing with my high school kids.

        • Depends on the teacher.

          Often get 5 mins at the start of the class and get assigned tasks to finish for the rest of the lesson and teacher logs off…

          That is not teaching…

  • +5

    i think our local school is pretty good,

    a teacher drops off for my Y2 and kindy their work sheets, reading material, white boards, markers and any other material they need plus a daily lesson plan for the following week on a friday afternoon. they do this because they understand that parents are also WFH and may not be able to spend alot of the time with the kids doing their work so they let the parents see what is needed for the week and maybe do some of the work on the weekend or at least plan around it, especially zoom classes,

    the students then have small reading groups on zoom twice a week.
    the students then have a maths lesson for 20 minutes on zoom each week.
    daily tasks that needs uploading
    the students also participte in group activities on zoom. this friday my kindy child has a zoom healthy food maths party,
    teachers record them selves reading stories and doing examples of the work required,
    daily comments on the work that is submitted
    optional tasks for the kids like dancing and building stuff and things that require parental supervision and help.

    YMMV but i think the teachers at our school are doing a fabulous job, and it shows in the effort they put in to keep the kids educated whilst having fun.

  • -1

    Our primary school kids (private school) get the odd 20 minute zoom meeting with their teacher and class at most once a fortnight or 3 weeks.

    I find it ridiculous, especially for the amount of money they suck out of me for school fees!!

    I'm sure the teachers are busy but so am I!! I'm busy running a household and a business, answering client calls, working on compliance and putting out fires so, you know, I can pay their fees.

    I wish I could just give my clients some stuff to figure out on their own, having no experience, and they pay me for the privilege.

    • -1

      Get the parents together and complain.

      • I don't have the patience and the families wouldn't dare go against the school at which they are alumni.

        Besides, I thought we'd all agreed that the best course of action for any gripe is to complain the OZB forums! ha ha ha

    • Well, you know there is free school, right?

      • There is also free healthcare, but I go private.

        Private schools are better.

        • +2

          If you're unhappy with the service you can change schools or home school your kids.

          • -1

            @J6: That's true that I could, but it's a prestigious school that feeds into prestigious high schools, so I won't and I certainly can't homeschool for the reasons that I already pointed out.

            Upvoted you for not turning this into a back and forth name-calling session :)

    • +5

      I wish I could just give my clients some stuff to figure out on their own, having no experience, and they pay me for the privilege.

      Put it this way.
      You have a client project that the basis of that project is face to face delivery, all the planning into the project and all the resources for that project are based on face to face.
      You normally engage with your 30 clients in a room where the message of delivery is through presentation and feed back.

      All of sudden in the middle of the project the client tells you that going forward only 5 clients will be on-site, and you must deliver the rest of the project in a new technology platform of which you are not experienced and everything takes more than twice as long.

      So during the day you need to essentially supervise 5 clients on site and prepare materials to appease your other 25 clients.
      It gets worse. Of those 25 clients 5 of them cannot access the new platform and it is tasked with you on how to engage with them.
      And not only that, not all the clients are on the same level and you need to adapt the project material and online material to suit them.

      Along with this you are required to call all 30 clients once a week to effectively 'check up' on them.
      Imagine the time it would take to call and track down 30 people.
      Then you add your clients bosses whom some of them believe that the project should be done in a different way, they are consistently calling you, lecturing you.
      And some of them for whatever reason breakdown and tell you how they are not coping with managing their own projects and don't know how to manage their subordinates.
      You'd liked to tell them ain't my problem…but you know you can't and must play adhoc therapist.

      If you've ever done an online brainstorming session you will appreciate how much harder it is than in person.
      If you've ever taken a 10 minute video, you'll understand to take it and upload it takes more than 10 minutes. Retakes, editing, formatting etc.

      If you're not happy with the school change or do something about it.

      • Can I double up vote?

      • Also want to add if it were me managing this project I'd ask for more staff and more money to do this =D

      • I have no doubt about the inherent challenges, but every business is facing similar challenges right now.

        We have also had to adapt and change our systems and I can assure you, not a single paying client gives a shit about how difficult it is for us right now because they pay us to make it work.

        We call clients to check up on them, we have had to spend insane amounts of time doing things remotely that we would have been able to outsource previous to the pandemic, we have all of our staff working remotely which comes with similar challenges. We also have to wear the workers comp risk of their home, their stress levels and we have to play ad-hoc therapist as well to both staff and clients who are struggling and looking at losing their businesses.

        Then we need to call various people who are working from home and not responding (all while adhering to compliance and time constraints). I wish it was only 30 a day! We have to get them to do their job so we can do ours and the entire time try to keep both sides happy.

        That's just the tip of the iceberg!

        What we don't have is the luxury of sending clients the worksheets and having them do the work and send it back to us for checking.

        Of course you make some valid points but nobody is immune, the challenges we all face are just different.

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