So there’s a teacher shortage in ACT????

nyssa76 20 August 2008 20

Over the past few weeks, there have been several discussions concerning the lack of doctors.

However, what has not been mentioned is the lack of teachers, particularly high school teachers, within the ACT Govt system.

Classes of students are being ‘corralled’ into a room to fill out worksheets or complete work for other classes as their English, Science or Maths (for example) classes can’t be covered by either internal (within the school) or external relief.

Some students are receiving ‘status’ (a non-grade) for the semester now as there aren’t enough teachers to cover the necessary positions in ACT Govt schools.

This isn’t something new here. It’s been the AEU mantra for several years, even when I was at University, that the teacher shortage would come.

What concerns me is that there is little to be said about it and that’s also from parents. I honestly don’t believe that the parents are being notified of it until after the fact. From what I have personally experienced, that is.

To make up for the ‘loss’, I personally am now what is called “overloaded” by the AEU. I am teaching 6 classes and over the 19th hour mandated in the EBA (Enterprise Bargaining Agreement). I’d rather the students have a teacher who can teach them than a ‘babysitter’ – see above paragraphs.

What I’d like to know is what the Minister is doing about it? The recruitment round for 2009 is close to completion and relief teachers are scarce.

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20 Responses to So there’s a teacher shortage in ACT????
Deref Deref 12:14 pm 04 Aug 13

I have two friends who left the ACT teaching system because of the way they were treated by the Education Department/Ministry/Organisation or whatever it’s called now.

miz miz 11:41 am 04 Aug 13

Having regularly heard the experiences of a close family member who is ‘quite high up’ in the creative arts area in a Canberra high school, it would appear that the whole system only makes it through the day because of the immense personal goodwill of teachers themselves. They have to pull together to fight daily crises, being severely hindered in their ‘actual’ teaching role by increasingly onerous Departmental reporting/performance processes and lengthy delays in getting ICT systems operating properly.

They are also sorely tested by the odd bludging, non-team-player teacher who thinks it is OK to go home at 3:30pm, leaving significant work for everyone else. (There are few of these, but their impact is severe, and gallingly this kind often seem to be able to appear dedicated and ambitious to Principals, often via computer charts of their own devising).

Many teachers seem to be permanently on the brink of burnout, yet the Department keeps heaping on the non-teaching burden and is now directing A LOT of money to so-called mentoring ‘specialist teachers’. This last makes minimal difference of course, but is all about looking as if the government gives a damn about teachers and students.

The Education Department needs to take a long, hard look at itself, though this seems unlikely whilst Ms Burch has anything to do with it.

Not that Mr Barr was crash-hot, making statements to the effect that teachers were ‘public servants’, an ignorant statement which clearly failed to take into account teachers’ front-line role, the much longer daily hours worked (as attested in numerous working hours surveys), the inflexible leave arrangements (eg no flex, can’t get married and go on a honeymoon unless it is in school holidays at high season rates), the requirement that they pay for their own skill refresher courses (!), etc etc etc.

And we expect these highly burdened teachers to love their work and teach our kids the things they need for life. Psh. Frankly I’m amazed there are still any teachers left in the ACT system.

tanderson tanderson 12:42 am 04 Aug 13

Bumping this up.

Can anyone comment on whether the relief teacher shortage is still the case in the ACT?

Thinking of moving to Canberra next term and wondering whether it will be easy for me to get relief work in primary schools?

Thanks in advance

Sass Sass 10:17 pm 24 Aug 08

There is currently a massive shortage of relief teachers in the ACT. Plenty of schools are being forced to split the classes of teachers who have had to call in sick or away at the last minute. This means that children are spread throughout the school to be babysat by other teachers who are trying to teach their own classes.

a) the department is processing new relief teachers at their leisure. One example, so as not to bore you with many, is that a teacher friend has been waiting 8 weeks to get her relief card (and that is AFTER the police check, reference check etc.)

b) how is this providing students with quality learning environments?

c) can you imagine the guilt a teacher must feel when calling in knowing that their class will most likely be split for the day/days they are away?

d) where is the forward-planning considering a gigantic proportion of teachers are set to retire in the next 10 years?

nyssa76 nyssa76 7:06 am 22 Aug 08

grunge-hippy, I’ll gladly trade you my 6 high school classes for your primary class as I am now close to or at 20 hours with 90+ kids I have to seesee. I have 1.5 hrs release time now btw.

Granny, I doubt you’d find that the teachers who are ‘happy’ (in high school that is) are the one’s truly doing their job. It’s the unhappy teachers who are working their arses off who are the ones leaving.

sepi, they wanted the ‘choice’ land to sell off.

sepi sepi 9:43 pm 21 Aug 08

The school closures do seem to have been a bit overly drastic.

Why close so many, when we didn’t even have a budget deficit anyway?

Granny Granny 9:11 pm 21 Aug 08

Mobility should definitely be voluntary.

This system has created huge difficulties, especially in the special schools where students are prone to be very uncomfortable with change.

If a teacher is happy, why force them to leave?

It’s just stupid.

grunge_hippy grunge_hippy 8:55 pm 21 Aug 08

sorry, but i feel no sympathy for high school teachers. “19th hour” …boo fricken hoo. I have more than 20+ contact hours with my class… this debate is old, but a favourite :)) I have 2.5 hours a week release time to do everything i need to do. you do the math and then tell me who has the raw deal. In terms of shortages and combining classes, we are also having that problem in primary. Once we had over half the staff away sick and had to split all the classes. Thats one way to ensure the rest of the staff are off sick too!!!!

The teacher shortage is not going to be solved until:

-teachers are given back the power to discpline students properly… i am not talking corporal punishment, but the ability for students and parents to accept responsibility for their actions. more and more teachers are leaving because of students being fair little shits and the system and their parents supporting them and not the staff.

-pay. age old but still valid. bring on performance pay. it will weed out the bad teachers and let those who want to actually make a difference get what they deserve.

-removal of the mobility system. schools go through such trauma when there is a huge turn over of staff, not to mention the teachers who dont want to go and have to.

– United and uniform curriclum. slowly but surely being addressed with the implementation of the ELA’s (Essential Learning Achievements). also, with that uniform teacher training at uni. every single uni should have the same way of training teachers.

im sure there are more, but i am too exhausted from work to think of more!!!

The school closures were a bad idea and will ultimately cost stanhope the election. He didn’t do himself any favours there. Whether any of the other arseclowns will do any better remains to be seen. not holding my breath.

lemaChet lemaChet 5:57 pm 21 Aug 08

i can chime in with information regarding my partner…. when we were still in canberra, she would get a call without fail to work every single day as a casual relief teacher.
if she decided NOT to work for that day and didn’t make herself unavailhale, she’d get 7 or 8 calls every day askin her to work.

nyssa76 nyssa76 5:21 pm 21 Aug 08

lumnock, I’d talk to the 4th years as they are all being ‘booked out’ for the 3 days they are ‘allowed’ to work by ACTDET and UC/ACU.

BerraBoy, is your friend in the primary system? They don’t seem to be smarting as much as the high school system. If your friend wanted longer work they could apply for a high school, but then again, as most people say these days – who wants to teach high school kids?

Whatsup, here here. I’m about to walk but feel that I should complete the year so my students don’t suffer by being forced into classrooms to do ‘busy work’ because there aren’t enough relief teachers or teachrs in general.

Whatsup Whatsup 2:23 pm 21 Aug 08

peterh said :

so what happened to all the teachers from the schools that were closed? where did they end up?

Permanent staff were posted to fill other positions. Some liked their new spot, others didn’t for a multitude of reasons. Teachers that were worth their weight in gold have been lost due to the arrogance of the Department of Education and the way they treat their staff.

lumnock lumnock 2:06 pm 21 Aug 08

I’m currently in my 3rd year of Secondary Teaching at the Uni of Canberra and am not aware of any great shortage of teachers out there. With that said, if there is then they should try harder to keep them because we are in high demand these days, particularly overseas. I was looking at some of the postings over near Dubai for example where they will pay for your flights there and back, free accomodation, living expenses etc etc, oh and your income is completely tax free.

peterh peterh 1:18 pm 21 Aug 08

Thumper said :

No, they’re gone. Finished!

In the Commonwealth public service probably.

yet another example of the excellent people management skills from the ACT government.

I know, let’s sort this out after october. the new govt may well be interested in getting the teacher numbers up again…

Thumper Thumper 1:15 pm 21 Aug 08

No, they’re gone. Finished!

In the Commonwealth public service probably.

peterh peterh 1:07 pm 21 Aug 08

Thumper said :

They were all on short term contracts, I believe.

they just weren’t renewed.

so does that mean that they are now working relief positions? should be enough of them to kit out a few schools….

Thumper Thumper 12:59 pm 21 Aug 08

They were all on short term contracts, I believe.

they just weren’t renewed.

peterh peterh 12:48 pm 21 Aug 08

so what happened to all the teachers from the schools that were closed? where did they end up?

Thumper Thumper 8:58 am 21 Aug 08


I did go back to uni and get qualled up for teaching. What you’ll find is plenty of relief work, but not much permanent due in the main, it would seem, to the government not wanting to pay for permanent teachers but rather just fill in the gaps when necessary with casuals.

Needless to say, I didn’t stay in the profession for long 😉

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 8:31 am 21 Aug 08

Nyssa76 – That’s odd. I’ve been toying with the idea of ‘retraining’ myself for the past 12 months or so and going into teaching (after 20 yrs as a public servant then consultant I need a change!). My wife is also applying to Uni next year to do Primary teaching degree after being out of the workforce for several years after having kids. However, a friend yesterday said she is having real trouble finding a job in the profession in Canberra due to there being almost no vacancies in Gov’t schools. That said she also advised there’s so much relief work you can work everyday if you wanted to. But who wants to work in a different school everyday?!

Not a great incentive to get into the profession.

Spectra Spectra 8:21 am 21 Aug 08

My wife is a teacher, and after the way she has been treated by the department over the last couple of years I’m left in no doubt as to at least one reason for the shortage. She has spent literally hours on the phone to them fixing up multiple screwups with her pay. She has, many times, been promised that they would “get back to her”, only to hear nothing. They once sent her a letter telling her she owed them $3000 in pay because she’d been off with an injury (sustained at work) and so they’d overpaid her (this also took multiple phone calls and emails to sort out). They routinely don’t get contracts to her until she’s been working (unpaid) for several weeks or even months. And all that’s just the start.

I swear, if any company I worked for treated me the way she’s been treated, I’d have left within weeks. As it is, she’s finally got jack of it too and is actively looking to the private schools – hopefully they’ll be better.

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