Forums an opportunity for educators to bargain for a better future

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Forums an opportunity for educators to bargain for a better future

The Lower South East will be the first in a series of Public Education Forums hosted by the Australian Education Union across South Australia in the coming month.

AEU president Andrew Gohl said teacher shortages were “at crisis point in schools and preschools everywhere, but we know they are most deeply felt outside of metro areas”.

“Initiatives like country incentives may be a piece of the puzzle, but we need long-term solutions and that’s what these forums are about,” he said.

Mr Gohl said the teacher shortage, while exacerbated by COVID, was “illustrated by worrying trends in educator recruitment and retention”.

“A Monash University study published this year found that nearly 60% of teachers plan to leave the profession.

Of those, 62% referred to workload pressures and its impact on health and wellbeing as the top reason.

“At the same time, recruitment of new educators has hit all-time lows,” he said.

“What we need is reduced workload and increased work value.”

“It’s about working smarter so educators can get the best outcomes for the kids and do the job they came to do.”

Mr Gohl said quality public education required quality educators, but relentless pressures were causing respected teachers to walk out the door.

“If allowed to continue, it paints a worrying picture for public education in South Australia,” he said.

“It’s the kids who are missing out.

“Educators come to the profession with the best intentions and a commitment to support their students.

“These unsustainable workloads mean students are not getting the support they need, and that’s frustrating for educators.

“The teacher shortage crisis is front of mind with bargaining for a new Enterprise Agreement set to commence later this year.

“It will be educators’ best chance of securing pay and conditions which better reflect their important and tireless work throughout the pandemic.

“The goal is to ease workload pressures and restore professional judgement to the system.

“That’s how we retain those professionals who are passionate about education but feel as if there’s no end in sight.”

Mr Gohl said measures to attract the best and brightest to the profession will be on the agenda.

“That starts with ensuring adequate support is available when they get into the classrooms,” he said.

“We have had reports of student teachers taking classes on their own because there simply are not enough staff to cover lessons.

“Do you think those people would recommend a career in education when that is the level of support they receive? I do not think so.”

Mr Gohl said the Public Education Forums will offer an opportunity for all educators to put their heads together and identify constructive solutions to ease the pressure in schools and preschools.

“This will culminate in the AEU’s claim for a new Enterprise Agreement,” he said.

“This crisis affects educators, students, parents, and communities.

We need to work together to fix it.

“These forums are open to everyone, whether you’re a member of the AEU or not.”

Educators across the South East are encouraged to attend the Public Education Forum at Mount Gambier High School on Tuesday, August 2 at 5pm.

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