Friday, April 16, 2021

Yes, Minister, you can entice our best and brightest into teaching. You will have to pay them more

The article below by two education academics is close to brain dead. Evertything they say is reasonable but they are ignoring the elephant in the room. They ignore the stressful nature of teaching under a regime of effectively no discipline. The article folowing the one below sets that out in stark detail.

NO well-advised person would take up teaching in a chaotic Australian government school

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge wants Australia’s best and brightest to take on teaching. Good on him for aiming high – there could hardly be a more worthy goal – but to succeed he will have to reverse a damaging, decades-long trend of bright young Australians turning their backs on a career in teaching.

Demand from high achievers for teaching has steadily declined over the past 30 years. Strikingly, the number of top students wanting to become teachers fell by a third over the past decade – more than any other undergraduate field of study in Australia.

A Grattan Institute survey of almost 950 young high achievers in 2019 showed that better career paths and higher pay are key to encouraging them to choose teaching as their profession.

It showed high achievers worry about getting stuck in the one classroom. And they want pay rates that recognise teaching expertise rather than simply years of service.

Teacher salaries at the top need to be more competitive with other professions. A high achiever going into a career in law or engineering will earn many tens of thousands of dollars a year more by their mid-40s than if they went in to teaching.

This is not to suggest that high achievers are only concerned about themselves. Our research shows high achievers are highly motivated by a sense of altruism – but they believed they could make almost as much of a difference in other careers compared with teaching.

We would urge Minister Tudge’s new initial teacher education review, announced on Thursday, to recommend setting a national goal of doubling the proportion of high achievers who choose teaching over the next 10 years. Our 2019 report shows this is achievable if governments take these three steps.

First, offer $10,000 cash-in-hand scholarships to encourage high achievers to study teaching. Scholarships are one the most cost-effective ways to sway young high achievers.

Second, governments should launch a marketing campaign to “sell” teaching as a rewarding and challenging career. But the campaign can’t be rhetoric alone. There is no point attracting good candidates if they are not supported, challenged and satisfied once they start working in schools.

So the third part of the package requires state governments to significantly improve teacher career pathways, so that expertise is recognised and rewarded. We suggest creating new expert teacher roles, with extra time and extra responsibility to improve teaching across the school system, along with extra pay of up to $80,000 a year more than standard classroom teachers.

This reform package would not only help to attract more high achievers into teaching; it would ensure current teachers received better support and guidance.


Qld teachers’ reveal the abuse and assault hell they face each day

Assaulted and spat on by students, abused and threatened by parents - Queensland teachers have described the harrowing conditions driving them to drink and prescription medication.

Tormented teachers and principals have shared distressing claims of a broken Queensland education system failing to protect their health and wellbeing.

Their shocking revelations have lifted the lid on a culture of overworked staff left to turn to alcohol and prescription medications to cope, with a trail of broken marriages and mental health breakdowns left in their wake.

Following the revelation by The Courier-Mail that more than $28 million in WorkCover claims had been paid out to Department of Education staff in just eight months, numerous current and former staff have reached out to share their own stories.

One teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described how a life-changing assault by a student several years ago left her in a years-long battle with the department over an alleged botched return to work program.

Her WorkCover claims have so far been denied, while her anxiety and depression has gone “through the roof” from the resulting financial stress, which left her in fear of losing her home.

“I love my job – I’ve done it for 20 years – but when I really needed them (the department) to be there for me, they abandoned me,” she said.

A further frightening incident at another school following her initial assault spiked her anxiety, and has left her barely able to leave her house.

“All I wanted to do was get back to work,” she said.

“No one is taking responsibility for the hell I’ve been through.”

Another former teacher of a southeast Queensland state high school was brought to tears as she described the eventual breakdown of her marriage following almost two decades in the classroom.

“I was leaving for school by seven in the morning, and often getting home well after six o’clock at night,” she said.

“By then I was so stressed I would pour a glass of wine the second I walked in the door, and then usually another, and another.”

She said she would often have several students in each class with high-needs, and though her principal was supportive, he too was swamped with work.

“A lot of these kids needed their own individual support but our concerns to the department just fell on deaf ears.

“I’ve had chairs thrown at me, been spat on ... while they say to report incidents but these aren’t one offs - they’re multiple times a day.

“How can you possibly report all that?”

The Australian Principal Occupation, Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey released last month showed Queensland school leaders were among the most at-risk of assault in the country.

More than 40 per cent of Queensland school leaders were either physically assaulted or threatened with violence last year – about nine times greater than the general population.

And Queensland principals reported the highest rates of stress and depressive symptoms in the country.

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Cresta Richardson said the union would continue to pressure the department to provide enough resources to support teachers who were suffering, as well as encourage members to report workplace violence.

“Teachers are considered frontline workers and that does come with some risks, but everyone deserves to be safe at work,” she said.

“Programs are good, but if we don’t have a full picture of what’s happening in schools then they are only programs.

“People need to be aware of how they can report, and also provided with the time to report.”

One regional Queensland school leader described being regularly verbally abused and threatened by parents, to the point where they had panic attacks at the supermarket.

“I would sit in my car and be afraid to get out, not knowing who I was going to face,” they said.

“I went to my doctor because my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, she said I essentially had a form of PTSD from so many years of abuse.

“I take medication now, and probably will for the rest of my life.”

The school leader claimed their mental health concerns were mishandled, at best, by the education department.

“They did the official stuff but I never felt like they actually cared, like I was a real person whose life was being effectively ruined,” they said.

Another school leader was forced on stress leave after months of alleged bullying, harassment and belittling by education department superiors.

The school leader’s husband detailed the sustained pressure heaped on his wife over a number of months, while her official complaint against her departmental superior languishes without a response more than a year later.

He said his wife was effectively “white anted” out of her position at great distress to her after decades of serving the community in a role she relished.

The couple even moved out of the area to avoid potential run-ins with those involved.

“Everything she has done throughout her career, she has always put the student outcomes first,” he said.

He went on to say no one from the complaints unit had been in touch to check on his wife’s welfare since she has been on leave.

“I’m shocked they would treat her this shabbily, after all she has done.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said there were a number of processes to assist injured employees, including workers compensation where staff suffered work-related injuries.

“Our employees are our most valuable resource and we work diligently to prevent the risk of harm within our school and workplaces, we trust and support principals to deal with inappropriate behaviours within their schools appropriately,” he said.

“We are working to actively promote community-wide understanding of the department’s behaviour expectations, eradicate anti-social and high risk behaviour, (such as) verbal and physical abuse and violence, and reducing the risk of occupation violence or abuse within the workplace.

“The department has a number of supportive processes and counselling services dedicated to assisting employees who have experienced incidents in the workplace.”