The school year started this week and like a lot of proud grandparents we enjoyed photos of the grand kids in their school uniforms.
The smiling faces of our lovely grandchildren hide some growing problems in Australia’s education system.
Dedicated Teachers will do their best over the coming year, often working many hours outside of the classroom, work that generally goes unnoticed by parents and certainly unrewarded by the system.
Teachers were once revered in the community and when I went to school their pay pocket reflected that standing. Sadly, when compared to other professions that require a university degree teachers have slipped down the salary ladder.
In my generation you would dare not tell your parents you got into strife at school for fear of more punishment. Too often these days we hear horror stories of teachers being confronted by angry parents refusing to accept their sweet-faced child would do anything wrong.
A study from Monash University released this week shows more than half of Australia’s teachers are planning to leave the classroom. Worse still, a similar percentage would not recommend the profession to school leavers. I cannot imagine any other profession held in such low esteem by the participants.
Local teachers I’ve met in recent years complain of excessive red–tape and increasing workloads not associated with classroom work. It has reach such a level that many older teachers only want to do relief because they then don’t get caught in the bureaucratic maze permanent teachers face on a daily basis.
Teaching should be the most honorable of professions; what prestige to be given the task – opportunity, really – to educate and guide young minds.
Some years ago I read a study that found it was the quality of the school teachers and not the size of the classroom that determined the standard of education.
I then suggested that Western Australia increase class sizes by 10 per cent, and used that saving in the number of teachers to give those left a 10 per cent pay increase. One caveat is that the Education Department give teachers more support when dealing with violent and disruptive pupils.
When I raised the prospect of an extra three students per class in return for a 10 per cent pay rise every teacher said “yes”. That was until I spoke to a union official who appeared more concerned about their number of prospective members than classroom outcomes.
Hopefully, one day a strong minister, with the backing of cabinet, will go about giving teachers what they deserve and at the same time cut needless red-tape so they can concentrate their efforts on educating young minds.
When that happens parents and grandparents will be more confident about the outcome from the year ahead.