8 March 2006

Teachers' choice: money or jobs

| nyssa76
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I “stole” the headline from today’s CT article.

Honestly, I don’t see the problem in teaching an “extra” 2hrs 40mins (high school). It means that more can be covered in the curriculum. If classtimes are extended by an extra 10mins each lesson then there wouldn’t be a need for teachers to lose jobs – it’s scare tactics by the AEU. Nor would there be an “increased workload” – you’re still teaching the same students, just for a longer period.

“It would also lead to a greater workload for teachers, larger classes, less curriculum diversity and poorer educational outcomes for students.”

If that’s the case (which I don’t believe it to be) then we can get rid of the teachers who shouldn’t be in the job. Who needs colleagues (and I use the term loosely) who don’t do their jobs but are willing to take the money?

I don’t agree on strike action (I think everyone who reads RA would know this already). It’s like a child throwing a tantrum.

I also don’t believe those higher up on the pay scale need more than $68K to do the same job as teachers who earn $52K. I am not talking about executive teachers here. Is it more about the money than the conditions? I believe so.

I’d like to know what parents would think of extended class times and what impact it would have on the students learning. However, this hasn’t been researched and so it still becomes a scare tactic.

I await the strike action…..what a waste.

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It is unfortunate that in the 21st century we are producing students that have less numeracy and literacy skills than previous generations who attended the same level. All this despite significant access and increase to information for both students and teachers. The education sector is a bureaucracy that does not respond well to change. Until the education system starts to live in the real world and not in the academically removed theoretical space not much will change.

I would encourage parents to actively get involved in their child’s education and the school boards to start to drive change from the bottom up. I believe this is why we are seeing a major shift from public (known to some as socialist institutions) to private schools who have just that little more autonomy and appear more accountable to the students and their parents.

They’re going on strike on Tuesday….just thought I would give ppl a heads up.

Well I go back to work and there’s more 🙂

Chalker, believe me I am finding the Non-Govt system very attractive atm. I can apply for my position permanently at the end of the school year. I will, but I will also apply to DFAT.

I was once told to “take sides” by my fellow *cough* colleagues. I told them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. We’re here to teach students not act like them.

schmerica, yes we should support teachers, but sometimes teachers don’t support teachers and THAT’S when teachers leave the profession.

The number of ex-teachers I know who have left in the last two years I can’t count on two hands.

If lunch is shortened, then schools would still finish at the same time.

I still find the whole concept of striking similar to a tantrum. I don’t believe in “performance pay” either, but I do believe in getting rid of the arseholes in the profession who shouldn’t be there.

They are the ones forcing the good teachers out of the system.

Oh the stories….

I thought it was the dilbert principle?

“However, I’m sure you get incompetents being promoted above their level of ability in all organisations.”

Yep Chalker, it’s called the Peter Principle.

We should be supporting these teachers – not making them bargin. These teachers are the one’s who are making sure the next generation of Australians arnt illiterate and can’t do simple math problems. An extra 10 min a day is actually quite a long time for kids. I work at an after school care program for two schools, one school finishes 10min earlier than the other. One being 3pm the other 3:10. That 10 min is quite a long time for some kids. I have parents of kids that go to the 3:10 school who wish that they simply finished at 3:00 because that last 10 min drags on and the kids hate it. This is only primary school though, where yes, 10 min can certainly feel like a lifetime to these kids. And cutting down lunch times? Getting the kids out of the classroom and running around actually helps their learning! Why are we cutting it down?

I don’t think its very fair to look at increasing the school hours – it’s not fair on the teachers (who already do SO much more than simply turn up at 8:30am and leave at 4:30pm) or the students who will suffer from this too.


Bonfire, a 30 minute lunch break would honestly be little different to a one hour lunch break, in fact in some ways it would be better. I currently don’t eat my lunch in that lunch hour most days – either because I have playground duty, or I’m in the photocopy room, or I have kids on detention, or I have a meeting, or etc. Teachers are already effectively tied to their workplace all day with the concept of duty of care. Even if you are not teaching at a particualr moment, you are made to feel incredibly guilty (or maybe that’s just me) if you want to go out to lunch. It really does feel almost like you are sneaking out when you leave school grounds, even if it’s for something like a doctors appointment.

nyssa76, You’ve just made private schools sound more attractive again. I could handle teaching 6 out of 8, but not 6 out of 7.

Thumper and nyssa76, you’re not wrong about some of the teachers out there, schools can be highly political and clique (sp?) – almost feels as though I was in school… However, I’m sure you get incompetents being promoted above their level of ability in all organisations.

Ultimately, would I like more pay? Yes.
Would I be prepared to trade away conditions to get it? No.
Would I be prepared to accept a lower pay rise with an improvement to condidtions? Yes.

“Mr Evil, I’d like to see that too but you’d have to cut subject parity and get rid of the PC BS that is currently in the curriculum.”

Nyssa, I agree wholeheartedly on this one. The whole P.C trip is ruining education (and workplaces!) in many ways.

“Only now has Clive Haggar brought up the need to retain younger teachers……”

I’ve always found this issue very interesting. Many Teachers (and Nurses!) aren’t staying in their chosen field for very long after they’re complete their training/studies, and yet the only solution that the Govt/Unions/’experts’ ever seem to come up with is to offer to fund more places for training new teachers (or nurses) whilst never bothering to look at retaining the ones they’ve already got.

Mind you, you only have to look at some of the ill-disciplined, arrogant, spoilt and destructive little brats running around to understand why people don’t want to teach anymore!

missymagoo, you should be thankful that you don’t live in Japan then. Kids come home from school and homework school as late as 9pm. Hence the reason why we are “always” behind Asian countries in educational testing – bar literacy.

If they take time away from lunch, then there won’t be a longer school day. They’ll still finish at 3pm/3:10pm/3:15pm (whatever time an individual school finishes for the day).

my 6 yr old son leaves home on the school bus at 8.05 am starts school at 9.10 am
finishes school at 3.10 pm and arrives home at 3.50 pm
I think he is away from home long enough
once he does his homework adn chores on the farm plays has tea a bath and i read him a book and just spend time with him it is 7.30pm and time for bed
a pretty long day in anyones book especially for a little boy
longer school hours i dont think so

I have thought about doing my Doctorate and the topic would be – how the impact of the transfer round affects teachers within the first 5 years of teaching.

Or something like that.

I am still going to apply for DFAT. You never know and after two years, I’d be overseas….which would be nice.

I’m at that stage where I am losing faith in the teaching profession because of other teachers and it makes me wonder how many good teachers (not that I call myself good) leave the job.

I’d like to see the AEU address that, but their too busy throwing tantrums.

Believe me, DFAT is an option for next year. They are also taking graduates from now until April. I’ll take a pay cut….

Thumper, what makes it worse is those arseholes are promoted etc.

I almost quit teaching last year after one person was a complete arsehole to several staff and was then promoted.

Hence my sea change to Non-Govt schools (well for this year).

Chalker, sorry I was sleeping – hence the late reply.

I teach 6 out of 8 lines.

Thumper, I have many friends who have left teaching but not because of the students. They’ve left because of other teachers. Oh the stories I could tell….but I won’t.

I am thinking of a career change, after I finish my masters this year.

There are people in the job who should never have passed practicum or even their probation reports but now that they are permanent, they can stay as long as they like.

I think that the conditions also has a lot to do with the transfer round – which leads to disillusionment in younger teachers.

Pay is also an issue for older teachers. Why stay on $66K when you can get a few more before you retire? Some of the “decisions” made by the majority voting in the EBA have been to the benefit of the older teachers.

Only now has Clive Haggar brought up the need to retain younger teachers. Amazing. Why? Because he never brought it up in the last EBA. I know because I questioned him on it and got a “well I don’t like you” childish retort. I hadn’t attacked him but the basis of the previous EBA, but he felt the need to attack me.

Mr Evil, I’d like to see that too but you’d have to cut subject parity and get rid of the PC BS that is currently in the curriculum.

Special G, I don’t believe that there will be job cuts. When Clive Haggar refers to those, he is talking about contract teachers, not actual permanent staff. Casual and contract teachers will be the first to go. He is using scare tactics.

I already teach more now that I did last year and no one lost their job over it. Besides, my current school has hired 3 more people and it’s only the 5th week of term 1.

I don’t know about extra teaching hours, etc, but what I really would like to see is more teenagers leaving High School/College who are able to read, write and spell properly.

Let’s clarify:

initial offer of 9% over 3 years does not keep up with the inflation rate which is over 3% per year generally;

offer of 12% is good although it comes with the conditions of reduced ‘release’ time (planning time, as a primary teacher I currently get 2 hrs 15 min. This would be reduced to 2 hrs. Therefore I am teaching my class longer, with less preperation time – although not effected nearly as much as my high school colleagues) The length of the school day is not changed, however less teachers will be required in schools as there will be less ‘release’ in PS and a greater load for teachers in HS, also less ‘release’ for the HS teachers. This is where the job losses occur.

Also change in Super scheme, which although it doesn’t effect those who have been teaching for ages, as they are locked into CSS, those who are in PSS like me will be moved into a scheme which will give less $$$ at retirement age. I probably have 35 more working years ahead of me, but our future is something we should all think about…


Nyssa, I think you just spelt out why the ACT public system is having strikes. You get paid more in NSW and in the private system. enough said..

it would be better for schools to remain open until 5 then the people who make a lifestyle choice to have children could collect their little darlings on the way home from work.

and if i was a teacher i would not bargain away my one hour lunch break.

effectively a 30 min break ties you to your place of work all day.

nyssa76, thankyou, I actually thought terms were shorter at private schools in the face-to-face sense (I went to a private high school and distinctly remember having a week extra holiday than public schools each term, but teachers worked that week as prep time). Yet another reason for me to stay public.

I wasn’t asking how many lines you taught (I did already see that in your earlier post), but how many lines does the school have? You teach 6 lines, how many of the lines don’t you teach?
(I teach 5 lines out of 7, btw).

I appreciate all the reasons for teachers to go NSW or ACT private, but I listed my reasons for not doing so (hence all the I statements). So yes, while I wouldn’t have to go bush any more, it’s that or Sydney. Neither are attractive propositions for me at the moment.

The extra two hours per week could mean job losses (depending on how it’s managed). Of course contract staff will go first, so why are you okay with that? Staff are staff. They’re still bodies that fill positions for jobs that need to be done. Less staff equals more work for the rest of us (and I don’t mean face-to-face time here).

I would actually be quite okay with two-hours per week more time – even taking another whole class, IF the classes were smaller. But I don’t see that happening.


Well I just read (via optus) that Katy Gallagher has offered 12% over 3 years (to match NSW) IF teachers do 2 hrs more a week face to face AND if the AEU stops the strike for next Tuesday (which I wouldn’t be going to anyway).

Clive Haggar’s spat the dummy stating it would cost jobs.

Now, what annoys me is that Clive talks of “job losses” but when you think about it, they can’t fire permanent staff, so they’ll “get rid of” contract staff.

Chalker, I spend 10 weeks a term face to face – the same amount of time I did in a Govt school last year.

I said already that I have 6 lines/classes (see earlier posts from this morning).

Teachers will choose NSW over the ACT because they can “argue” that they have already done x years and don’t need to do a bush school. I know of several who have done that, mind you they had 10+yrs teaching experience.

Mael, you’re forgiven. I’ll be hard at work tomorrow 🙂

Nyssa, my apologies and I hope your recovery went well.

I’ve put you back onto my shelf of hardworking teacher types, alongside Chalker, Thumper and Mr Gormsby.

Sorry for the delay (hehe I find it ironic at least) getting back to you guys…

I work in an Environmental grants program, which is a quite peculiar working area which rapidly transitions between flat out and doldrums. In order to recuperate my mind as quickly as possible after the flat out period (breaks in between jobs tend to be short), I utilise the internet to expand my mind, and get out of the environmental mindset.

It’s an accepted standard practice within the team, and is in line with the departments directives on appropriate internet usage.

nyssa76, no it doesn’t, which is why I clarified my orignal question with how many full lines do they do, not necessarily classes (subjects). Subject wise gov’t schools have students taking 8 subjects (some electives being half-line).
So let me rephrase again, how many lines do you have?

As to why would a teacher teach in the ACT govt system:
1) It’s not NSW – I don’t have to do “bush time”.
2) It’s not NSW – I like living in the ACT.
3) It’s not NSW – I have a more flexible curriculum to work with, allowing me to have greater creativity and hence greater satisfaction with my job.
4) It’s public – I actually still believe in quality education for all, and not just those who can pay for it, despite all the disheartening experiences that come with it.
5) It’s public – it’s still a larger system (at least for now), so that means more opportunity for promotion.

Che I think was quite accurate in his statement about conditions. That would certainly be the main reason for me to consider changing to private, however, pay is still a factor.

One more thing on private schools having more contact hours per week, I’m sure they do, but they also have fewer contact weeks per year. How many weeks are you face-to-face nyssa76?

Special G, it depends on the “private” school – which is usually the independent ones i.e. St Eddies, Grammar, Girls Grammar, St Clares.

If I choose not to go back to the Govt system, I will get $5K more a year – not a lot I know but then again I won’t have to transfer schools in the 4, 6 and 8 yr block the ACT Dept want me to do.

I have known from friends that teachers working in private schools tend to get paid more than teachers in govt schools. They also get more prep time. The offset is that they take extra curricular activities, such as sport. Is this the case Nyssa?

I am married to a teacher so I have some idea about the amount of work outside ‘school’ hours that some teachers put in. It would be great if she could get OT.

Chalker, does that include the electives that can be for a semester or even a term long? I count the arts as a whole year as well as technology/foods.

Some schools may not have LOTE – which is included in the 8, but rarely in a high school. Then again, the smaller the school the less likely that they have as many electives etc as a larger school – which would need 8 lines.

The answer to the staffing problem is complex, however, one argument is correct – why work in the ACT Govt schools when you can be paid more in 1) NSW or 2) Non-Govt schools?

people change jobs because of conditions, not pay

its a very general statement, but usually true

I’m going to come back to the productivity line.

With even starting wages pushing into the upper end of the income tax scales I think we can say that higher wages aren’t the answer to the staffing problems, and LESS productivity is the recruitment answer.

Why work even harder for an incremental pay increase of which the government will take half?

Actually the school I’m at they take 7. And next year they will drop to 6. Still the same total hours student-wise though.

Chalker – they take 8 – the same as Govt schools.

Oooh, overtime. P l e a s e can I get overtime?!

Question for you nyssa76, how many classes do students at you non-gov’t school take? Full line classes that is.

Teachers being in front of a class an extra two hours per week does not at all equate to students being in class an extra 2 hours per week.

Most teachers currently teach five classes with their 18 hours hours per week. That’s 3.6 hours per class. Teaching an extra 2 hours doesn’t necessarily mean 4 hours per class, it might mean taking another class (or at least sharing this class with another teacher – really great outcome for students there, not. This would mean job losses and greater load of non-class roles on the staff that remain, and also an increased workload for staff in terms of class preparation, marking, report writing, and administration. It could also mean doing inbuilt relief, which if you read Ms Gallaghers proposal you’ll find is her suggestion about how to pay for the extra 3%, and this means less employment for relief staff and staff taking classes outside their area of expertise.

The proposal also does not take into consideration the extra class preparation time ACT teachers need than NSW teachers, as they use a set curriculum while we do not.

Mael, I’m not at all surprised to find a teacher taking the time (almost assuredly a few scant minutes stolen here and there on off lines or during morning tea – or in my case my lunch hour) to post on a topic which is of direct concern to them. How often do you post on topics not directly related to you?

Absent Diane1:29 pm 08 Mar 06

hehe everyone on this site can accuse everyone else of being a bludger

Maelinar, I teach in a secondary school.

I have been home for almost a week with severe bronchitis and asthma.

I have made sure my classes still continue on with their work as I am well organised and have given the class work to my executive teacher via e-mail.

I “have time” to log on here as I am at home atm. Tomorrow I go back to work – which is what my medical certificate from the Canberra Hospital states. I hope this clarifies the situation for you.

And no, I am not a ‘bludger’. Pure oxygen and ventolin as well as a short stay in the hospital do wonders.

caf, I am assuming 10 more minutes because I offered it up as a solution. It isn’t that hard.

Why have students lost 1 1/2 hours since the mid 90’s?

Special G, Non-Govt high schools already have longer hours. What is the difference to Govt schools?

Most teachers work beyond 8:30am-4:51pm. Personally I have been known to work all weekend and until 10pm at night marking work etc. If I were to claim overtime, I’d be able to work part-time and still get the same amount each fortnight.

And what are you working hard at Mael?

Have you looked at the attention span of students. Is increasing the class times by 10 minutes going to create productivity or simply more behaviour management for teachers in the last 10 minutes.

If the government was going to do something productive it should look at more physical acivity in schools. The flow on effects from that would be far greater than an extra 10 minutes of maths/science/whatever.
Fitter heathlier youths, increased attention span. Decrease Australia’s growing obesity rates.

If you wish to increase the workload of teachers then you have to increase their pay – simple. Or maybe add an overtime condition and see where that takes it.

You’re missing my point, which is that you’re simply assuming there will be an extra 10 minutes a day (actually half an hour for high school), when this hasn’t been stated, as far as I can see, at all.

Absent Diane12:20 pm 08 Mar 06

I think if you give students longer hours it will just be harder to keep their attention span for the extra time and hence will be fruitless if not harmful…

nyssa76; what do you teach ?

Bearing in mind that you have posted on this thread alone, 6 times today, all within school hours.

I am finding it remarkably difficult to reconcile my image of you as a hard working teacher under the scenario I’m presented.

Kerces, I work in a school where the 1hr was reduced to 30mins.

They had no problems and parents were actually behind the teachers/principal.

As long as students get 30mins to eat, which is covered anyway, then we haven’t “breached” any laws/policies regarding meals.

When working in a Govt high school, most of the time spent at lunch (from my observations of 5 Govt high schools – almost 1/3 of the total in Canberra) is focused on social agendas i.e. fights, bullying and the like.

Shorter lunches would cut that out considerably given that there isn’t enough time to do that.

Oh, students are likely to be stroppy and grumpy. But they’re in attendance on a compulsory basis anyway.

OK, so they reduce lunch time instead of extending school hours. And you still don’t think the students would have something to say about that?

oops…they’re hiring…..

Longer contact hours is a joke. As a student I had 5hrs a week with one teacher for one subject. Nowdays students are lucky to have 3 1/2 hrs a week with one teacher for one subject.

Where did the 1 1/2 hrs go?

If they’re smart, they’ll take the time out of lunch. Non-Govt teachers already have more face to face time and they hiring even now.

It’s a scare tactic, especially when you consider that 55% of Govt teachers are 50+ and are going to retire soon. They just don’t want to spend their “last years” teaching an extra 10 mins a day.

“Increasing classes by 5-10mins a day won’t mean teacher losses – it will mean a change to the start and finish times of schools.” – yes, I agree. But are they actually proposing to increase class times by 10 minutes a day? All it says is that teachers will be expected to have more class contact hours – which could mean either longer classes, or less teachers.

Kerces, it could also mean a change in the time for lunch.

Where I work now, we have 30mins for lunch. In Govt schools they have 1hr (or 50mins depending on the school).

I teach 6 classes in the Non-Govt system and I taught 5 classes in the Govt system.

I teach 21hrs now and 18hrs a year ago.

Increasing classes by 5-10mins a day won’t mean teacher losses – it will mean a change to the start and finish times of schools.

So if the school starts at 9am and finishes at 3:15pm then the change might be that it starts at 8:50am and finishes at 3:30pm, so be it.

The way I read the article, I thought they were proposing there be an extra half hour (or thereabouts) class time a day for high schools and an extra 10 minutes for primary schools.

I’m sure students would have something to say about their school day suddenly being extended by half an hour, not to mention it would throw everything out of whack for those who do extra-curricular activities.

But are they actually proposing to increase class times? If not, then longer class contact hours for teachers means less teachers teaching the same number of students… which is where you get the job losses from. Though perhaps these would mostly be through natural attrition.

Whichever way you look at it though, teaching the same number of students for longer *is* an increased workload. Presumably longer classes also means you need to spend more time preparing classes and so forth.

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