Testing time for teachers

Testing time for teachers

Limestone Coast educators have given an insight into working conditions and the challenges faced in the sector.

Teacher shortages, coupled with administrative tasks and the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have heavily impacted on the profession, as revealed at forums hosted by the Australian Education Union (AEU) in Mount Gambier and Naracoorte last week.

The forums were an opportunity for educators to discuss issues and solutions for a better future in the education sector.

AEU president Andrew Gohl said about 50 people attended the Mount Gambier forum, representing preschools, primary and secondary schools and a range of classifications from the department.

“What came through really strongly for me was what an amazing amount of commitment and support for students in schools and preschools exists amongst that group,” Mr Gohl said.

“Having established these people are so committed to teaching and learning, they then went on to describe the sorts of things which are getting in the way of that teaching and learning relationship with kids.

“What came out significantly was too much time is being spent on administrative tasks, which are taking teachers away from the key jobs of teaching and learning.”

Mr Gohl said initiative fatigue was another issue raised along with staffing shortage struggles, which had been exacerbated by COVID.

“While people are backfilling those who are absent, they are not getting their day-to-day work done and they’re having to take that home on top of their existing workload, so that’s what’s causing the fatigue,” he said.

“The other thing that came through was if we’re going to create a work environment that’s going to ensure that we keep the next generation of educators, we need to put a lot more time into supporting new educators and support them in doing their job.

“We’re talking about time for mentors, release time so they can work with experienced teachers to support them with their planning and programming and pedagogy.”

Mr Gohl said the need for more school support staff in classrooms and a career path for classroom-based school support staff were further suggestions at the forums.

The ideas will formulate the AEU’s claim for a new enterprise agreement, which Mr Gohl said would commence by March next year if all went to plan.

“It’s also really important for the union membership broadly to have a say in what really goes to the fundamental working conditions of educators,” Mr Gohl said.

“Because if we get those working conditions settings right, then we have educators who are prepared to stay in the workforce longer who are supporting kids in school in a sustained way.”

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