Welcome to Part 2 of a 2-part series, breaking down the year that was!
Reminisce with me as we look back at the breaking headlines of the year, and highlight what we have endured and celebrated in 2022.
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Hello again! This is part 2 of a two part series taking a reflective look back on the year that was, as reported on by the media. If you haven’t listened to part 1, please go back and do so now, so you award yourself the full scope of the year!
This part, part 2, will cover July – December. Almost the end of December at the time of recording. In full self-awareness, I will let you know that my research process for this episode has been pretty simple, I simply searched on Google for articles within each month – that means that what I’m covering are likely the most clicked-on articles, and with that comes the risk that it will be slanted and/or biased by design. I have tried to limit each month, as of course there are loads of news articles out there, but I also didn’t want to miss anything important.
You’ll notice that Part 2 is a bit shorter than Pt 1 – that’s because a lot of the reporting was rehashing the same topics over and over. I’ve tried to weed them out where possible, because boring. That means that as we progress through the months, the number of articles decreases, and therefore the time spent in each month’s media circle decreases.
I will also give you a content warning before we jump in – we talk COVID, assault, mental health in this episode. So please look after yourself and bypass any sections you feel necessary. I will always lead with the article headline, so that will give you an indication of the next portion of content.
So let’s not waste any more time, as it’s another really full episode today. Let’s wind back, all the way to July of 2022.
Let’s start July with this article from The Conversation, published on the 5th “We are on the brink of losing Indigenous languages in Australia – could schools save them?”. The article mentions how Indigenous languages are disappearing at a very rapid rate, and yet students here in Australia are very willing to learn native languages ahead of other foreign languages. But there was some good news in the article “The demand for Indigenous language teachers has been a longstanding issue. In recent years, more funding has been allocated. The new federal government has pledged A$14 million over the next three years, to bring First Nations teachers to around 60 schools. In remote Aboriginal schools, like One Arm Point, funding could be used to bring Elders and resources into the school to keep the language going.”
But of course lack of suitable teachers isn’t just an issue for learning Indigenous languages. The Age reported on July 6 “Teacher shortage risks stunting students in maths and science, researchers warn”. We all know out-of-field teachers, even up into senior high school, who are teaching specialist areas like maths and science. This isn’t a new issue – it’s been happening for as long as I’ve been a teacher, that’s for sure. But with the overall decrease of teachers, we are of course losing access to those with this specialist training. The flow on effects from this are enormous, potentially irreversible, as fewer students enter these fields in senior school, and therefore are not entering into those workforces. It’s a problem that’s going to take years to fix, as we need to start again from the bottom up. Get the specialist teachers in, who can provide the appropriate education in these subjects from an early age, which then increases the likelihood of students following that pathway.
I wonder if you’ll all remember this next story. It certainly was a discussion point in the FB groups, and I even reached out to the author Nicole Mockler to see if she was interested in coming onto the podcast – I never head back, but that’s ok. We’ll talk about it now. The Conversation reported on July 11 “No wonder no one wants to be a teacher: world-first study looks at 65,000 news articles about Australian teachers”. That’s a whole lot of news articles. To give some perspective, if you’ve listened to Part 1, as well as up to now in Part 2, I’ve covered 105 news articles, just up to this point right now. And that’s me being selective, and of course only from this year. Let me read you some of this article now “Remember when former Morrison government minister Stuart Robert lashed out at “dud” teachers? In March, the then acting education minister said the “bottom 10%” of teachers “can’t read and write” and blamed them for declining academic results. This is more than just a sensational headline or politician trying to get attention. My research argues the way teachers are talked about in the media has a flow-on effect to how people feel about becoming a teacher, and how current teachers see their place in the community. So, when we talk about the shortage of teachers in Australia, we also need to look at media coverage of teachers in Australia. My new book examines how teachers have been represented in the print media for the past 25 years. When you look at the harsh criticism and blame placed on teachers, it’s no wonder we are not attracting enough new people to the profession and struggling to retain the ones we have. In a world-first study, I explored how school teachers have been portrayed in Australian print media from 1996 to 2020. I looked at more than 65,000 media articles from all 12 national and capital city daily newspapers, including all articles that mentioned teacher and/or teachers three times or more. With an average of 50 articles per week for 25 years, and a total word count of more than 43 million, my analysis is one of the largest of its kind. “ Her three key findings from this incredible work were: 1. We are fixated on ‘teacher quality’; 2. Teachers’ work is made out to be simple (it’s not); and 3. Teacher-bashing is the norm. Nicole ends the article with this “As we consider what to do to improve teacher numbers in Australia, we need to think about the way we talk about teaching and teachers in the media. If all people hear is that teachers are to “blame” for poor standards and they should be finding their demanding, complex jobs easy, this is hardly likely to encourage people into the profession. Nor does it give those already there the support and respect they need to stay.” If you want to read this book, it’s called “Constructing Teacher Identities: How the Print Media Define and Represent Teachers and Their Work.”
On July 12, we circle back to an issue that reared it’s ugly head more than a few times in the first half of the year. ABC News reported “More private schools denounce homosexuality, diverse gender identity in enrolment contracts”. “Eleven private schools across Australia have been accused by human rights lawyers of exposing students to potential discrimination, after enrolment forms demanded prospective families support beliefs denouncing homosexuality and diverse gender identity. All 11 schools are part of the Christian Community Ministries (CCM), which says it serves more than 6,000 students across schools in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.” And so this saga continues! The article discusses a bit about religious freedom, and the right for schools to govern according to their religious ethos. “Terry Burke, secretary for the Independent Education’s Union Queensland and Northern Territory branch said schools needed to make a distinction between their religious beliefs and their practices and policies. “Nothing is preventing a school authority teaching its faith. Nothing prevents that,” he said. “What’s at stake here is an issue about the discrimination enacted upon an individual because of who they are. “You can teach your faith but that does not inherently mean that you have to discriminate.”” HOWEVER, “Former Citipointe student Felicity Myers said she was surprised to learn other schools had similar contracts, but since publicly opposing Citipointe’s enrolment contract earlier in the year, she had heard from other young queer people who faced discrimination at school. “I was already aware that it was an issue that went beyond the school that I attended,” she said. “I have had a range of stories and experiences from people across a variety of different schools, religious and non-religious. “Especially if the teachers do go towards the line of teaching that they are unworthy that they’re not valued that they’re not loved, for who they are, and that they have to change who they are. “I think teachings like that can really damage the self-esteem and self-worth of a young queer person.””. Some people might came back to this whole discussion saying that people should not be enrolling in schools with these beliefs if they know they stand against them, for example if you know you are gay, why put yourself through the trauma of learning or working at a school that is anti-gay. But one of the issues here is that many children and young people are unsure of their sexuality and/or gender identity. Or they may be sure, but may not have told anyone about it yet. Schools have a wonderfully unique opportunity to provide a safe place for our young people while they are growing and developing their identity, but to be placed in a school that is teaching that this sort of thing is fundamentally wrong, that could be permanently damaging to a young person who is discovering themselves. What a big conversation, let’s park that for now and move on.
On July 15, we jump to another contentious issue, this time in The Conversation. Headlined “Don’t expect schools to do all the heavy lifting to close the education divide between the big cities and the rest of Australia”, the article discusses how the impact of everything outside of school affects life inside school, particularly in remote and rural locations. It calls for “the next National School Reform Agreement… to respond to the diversity of school locations and communities, especially in regional, rural and remote areas. It should include a strong focus on building the capacity of these communities to help improve learning.”
The next week saw a slew of articles about how students should be wearing masks to school, even though there were no mask mandates anywhere in Australia to this effect at this time. There were calls for parents to send all students over the age of 8 to school wearing a mask, as cases surged yet again. Official recommendations and emails were sent out, which 9 News noted in their headline “Parents confused over mask-wearing recommendation for school students across Victoria”. A lot of conversations swirled around this, ranging from what’s the point to why don’t we just lock down again. Our collective fatigue at the pandemic was very real and very high.
July 20 saw this headline in The Educator Online “The influence of ed-tech in Australia’s schools, before and after the Covid-19 pandemic”. I’m sure you all have your own vivid, and possibly unpleasant, memories of shifting to online learning, and all the teething pains that came with it. One this that is absolutely certain, is that our relationship with digital technology has been permanently shifted because of the pandemic. Some schools have kept a lot of their pandemic-era technology things in place, others have reverted back as quickly as they can. I’d like to read you this snippet from the article, which sums it up very nicely I think “Michelle Dennis, Head of Digital at Haileybury, said that while technology has always found a way into schools, usually at a slower pace compared to most other industries, that changed abruptly with the arrival of Covid-19. “The pandemic accelerated the impact and momentum,” Dennis told The Educator. “Teachers are increasingly having to adopt technological tools to support their teaching methods and we’re seeing an increase in technology organisations not only willing to work with education, but to put education first.” But while technology has an important place in classrooms, quality teaching is pivotal in underpinning education, she noted. “There are some things that only a teacher can do exceptionally well, like relating to a student and initiating questions that can open up a new line of thinking. Technology that is thoughtful and evidence-based can help teachers do their jobs and provide insights,” she said. “In the world of education, technology has to be used at the right place and right time and when it makes the most sense. It’s not about using technology for technology’s sake – it’s about using technology in a genuine way to make learning better.””.
On July 22, The Conversation ran an article by a group of academics with a focus on teacher education and leaders of the Network of Academic Directors of Professional Experience. It was headlined “Growing numbers of unqualified teachers are being sent into classrooms – this is not the way to ‘fix’ the teacher shortage”. This article was of course discussing the contentious permission-to-teach schemes present right across Australia. In the article they outlined the issues, most notable how we are risking the premature exit of beginner teachers from the profession due to early burn out. They are concerned about how preservice teachers have had their own education so disrupted through the pandemic, and are therefore entering the workforce less prepared than those pre-pandemic. I compare this to the UK who have a scheme in place where any professional can step into the classroom – my husband worked as a school relief teacher while we lived there for a year, and he had absolutely no teacher training whatsoever. At least our preservice teachers here have something under their belt before they step into the classroom. Do I think it’s a good fix? No. But these are desperate times for sure, and until we raise the profile of the profession and get more fully trained teachers in the door, I’m not sure what other options we actually have.
Here’s a bit of a clickbait article for you, by WA Today on July 22 “Shock twist as Perth Judge delays sentencing of teacher murder plotter over Banksia Hill concerns”. You may remember me touching on this story in Part 1 – a student stabbed a teacher in the chest, with full intent to murder her. It was premeditated. I suppose I should say alleged before all of this, at least at this part of the story, but there you are. Basically the article outlined how sentencing was to be delayed, as the Banksia Hill youth detention facility was in a state of crisis. The judge was aware of the likely outcome of the proceedings, and was concerned for the wellbeing and rehabilitation of the student should she be sent there. We will come back to this story in the September part of the episode, when the hearing continued.
Another story we touched on in Part 1 involved a Sydney high school teacher caught on camera inhaling from a homemade bong while sitting with some students at a skate park. On July 25, News.com.au reported “New blow for bong-smoking Sydney high school teacher. A Sydney high school teacher who was filmed smoking a bong with her students has been dealt a fresh blow in court.”. The article continued “A Sydney high school teacher who admitted selling drugs to her students will not have a conviction recorded. Lauren Russell pleaded guilty in April this year to supplying illegal drugs to students at Lucas Heights Community School. She walked free from Sutherland Court on Monday on the condition she abstain from illicit drug use and continue to receive treatment for mental illness for at least two years. The sentence took into account that Ms Russell was most likely experiencing a “hypomanic episode” caused by her bipolar disorder at the time. “There is a causal link between the defendant’s mental health condition and the offending,” Magistrate Phillip Stewart said. He said due to her mental health condition Ms Russell’s moral culpability for the crime was somewhat, but not entirely, diminished.” I’m not entirely sure what ‘blow’ this woman has been dealt, as stated in the headline. Unless this was the author’s poor attempt at a joke, or a bit of clickbait, but I actually saw this as a compassionate outcome for someone who broke the law whilst in the midst of a mental health crisis. Of course what she did was wrong, there is no denying that, but the outcome of the trial is one of support for her to not reoffend, which is the best possible outcome here.
Speaking of mental health, The Educator Online touched on this subject in relation to teacher and student wellbeing programs on July 27. Headlined “The problem with Australia’s school wellbeing programs, and how to fix them”, it all boiled down to the fact that most wellbeing programs are about assessing, rather than addressing. Teacher wellbeing is almost always disconnected from student wellbeing, even though as Dr Jody Carrington says, if the adults are not ok, the kids don’t stand a chance. The article goes into a bit of a thinly veiled sales pitch for the interviewee’s own products, but there are some pieces of gold in there. “Looking ahead, Weber said he hopes to see governments recognise student and teacher wellbeing as interconnected rather than as separate issues. “We also need to carefully consider the mode of delivery of content; too frequently wellbeing resources are uploaded to the internet with little focus on engagement and overall impact,” he said. “A lot of wellbeing resources have used technology since the early 2000s; we need to ensure we use automation, customisation and personalisation to build the best wellbeing resources.” Dr Hawkes said he would like to see government “less in the thrall of theoreticians and the tertiary sector and much better aligned with schools and teachers.” “We need less credentialing by bureaucrats and more by teachers. We need wellbeing programs written by teachers for teachers. This is not to advocate for reduced standards. It is to advocate for increased relevance,” he said. “Furthermore, we need wellbeing interventions that reduce the burden on teachers rather than increase them.” Dr Hawkes said there also needs to be holistic, school-wide programs that cover students, teachers and support staff. “Of particular importance is the need for proactive measures as well as redemptive initiatives in the school wellbeing space.””. I’d be curious to hear what wellbeing looks like at your school, if there is any particular focus – get in touch through FB or Instagram or the website and let me know!
August wasn’t too heavy in terms of news content. There weren’t necessarily less articles, but a lot of them were of the same topics, so I’ve decided to condense them here.
August started off with this headline in The Conversation “‘Decolonising’ classrooms could help keep First Nations kids in school and away from police”. I really think this is a conversation that a lot of educators don’t want to have right now. My own episode about decolonisation is actually the least downloaded episode of all, which hints to me that teachers don’t want to talk about it, at least yet. But this article raises a lot of critical points. Here are some snippets “On average, 50% of young people in detention in Australia are First Nations, despite only representing about 6% of the overall youth population of the country. For a lot of children, their first experiences of trouble and marginalisation in response to authority can manifest in the classroom. We also know the longer children engage with their formal schooling, the less likely they are to come into contact with the judicial system as children and adults. One way to address First Nations youth incarceration lies with schools and teachers acquiring the skills and confidence to begin the process of decolonising their classrooms. This requires teachers and schools to change their approaches to include First Nations contexts across all aspects of teaching and learning.” Our new Australian curriculum is attempting to do this, but I think we need more training at the teacher level. We need more support to engage with local Elders, and access to appropriate resources, so make sure this doesn’t just get swept under the rug. Of course we can highlight history lessons in this context, as they are very coloniser-centric, but the article also outlines how simple things like First Nations books and artworks are a great place to start, to help students feel seen.
The next article, published on August 8 by The Conversation, was headlined “Australia spends $5 billion a year on teaching assistants in schools but we don’t know what they do”. And as inflammatory as that is, I can kind of see their point. Every school I’ve worked at has used teaching assistants in a different way. The article mentions how many teachers don’t use assistants (or aides) effectively, and that there seems to be no national guideline for the work they do – some are working with the lowest achieving students, some with students with additional needs, some are doing administrative tasks, all seem to do playground duty. There can be absolutely no denying the incredible value of teaching assistants, without them our own work would be that much harder, that’s for sure.
This same week in August saw a slew of articles demanding that the education ministers, who were meeting around that time, ‘fix’ the nationwide teacher shortages. Again, the media focusing on these shortages is good awareness raising, but that’s about it. One article by The Guardian mentioned how modelling suggests we will be short by thousands of secondary teachers, and a similar amount of primary teachers, in the coming years. The issue isn’t just that teachers are leaving, it’s also that less are entering uni to study teaching, and those that are entering are not always finishing their degree. The media pushed hard for the government to ‘fix’ it, just like we’ve been doing for years and years.
The next article that caught my eye was published on a website called Kids News, and was titled “Parents back push for healthy cafeteria lunches for South Australian school kids”. It detailed how a group of researchers were lobbying for schools in SA to pilot a universal lunch program, similar to what we see in other countries. The drawcard, according to the researchers, came in multiple parts – more nutritious foods served, help with disadvantaged students, and as a learning opportunity about nutrition and social functions of eating the same meals as a large group. While reading, though, all I could think about was how picky a lot of young eaters are, including my own 2 year old. And also how diverse the lunchboxes I see are. Yes of course there are those who could do with a piece of fruit or vegetable, but I’m definitely not trying to shame any parent here. The other angle is that, having worked at some very multicultural schools, you run the risk of these young people losing their connection to their culture through removing their lunchboxes. I see a lot of cultural foods, and oftentimes they are a topic of conversation amongst the students, which is a fantastic way for them to share their cultures with each other. It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and would be interesting to see how this panned out.
August 19 saw a very worrying headline from 7 News “Home Affairs Minister warns children are being radicalised in school playgrounds. Australia’s national security agency has revealed extremists are targeting the vulnerable and shy.”. At first you might be thinking quite cynically about the topic, as I was, so let me read you some snippets, remembering that this is coming from Home Affairs and ASIO. “The federal government says sickening propaganda is being used in Australian schoolyards to tempt kids as young as 13 into becoming homegrown terrorists. National security agency the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) claims extremists are targeting the vulnerable. “They’ll do this through the use of videos that might start out being a bit humorous … and grow more and more racist and more and more violent until young people are quite desensitised to the violence they are seeing,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil told 7NEWS. The children most at risk are usually those “who are being bullied at school, who might be seeking out friendship groups but are not able to find them and young people who don’t have those protective factors, or family or community”. “We need to be seeking out those children and ensure they have adults that they can trust and turn to,” she added. For operational reasons, the schools or locations of these cases could not be disclosed. “The risk is, is that it first radicalises kids, but then it also primes them into copycat action,” psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed said. In February, ASIO Chief Mike Burgess flagged that minors now represented around 15 per cent of new counter-terrorism investigations and their extremism was more intense. “Children as young as 13 are now embracing extremism, and this is happening with religiously motivated violent extremism and ideologically motivated violent extremism,” he said. “And unlike past experience, many of these young people do not come from families where a parent or sibling already holds extreme views.” He said sports clubs, schools, parents, carers and community leaders could play a pivotal role in identifying signs of teenagers heading towards radicalisation. “The acceleration of radicalisation, online propaganda and misinformation, single-issue extremism and minors embracing violent extremism all require a whole-of-government, whole-of-system and whole-of-nation approach.”” So something worth keeping in mind as you head into the new year.
The University of Southern Australia published this one on August 25 “Teachers want support to embrace nature play in primary education”. The article begins “From tree-branch tepees to bush tucker gardens, mud kitchens and even functional fire pits, primary schools are sprouting all sorts of nature play environments in an effort to better connect primary students with the outdoors. But while nature play infrastructure grows, new research from the University of South Australia shows that teachers also need a knowledge-boost on how to best link nature play areas to the curriculum and children’s learning. Conducted in partnership with Nature Play SA, the Australian first study found that while all teachers believe that nature-based play and learning can deliver huge benefits for children, seven out of 10 teachers felt that their knowledge and confidence was limiting their ability to fully embrace these opportunities at school.” I myself did some absolutely amazing outdoor PD while I was teaching in London, and it really inspired me to give it a go. But coming back to Aus I haven’t done it much since – mostly because I’m concerned about behaviour, but also because I haven’t made the time to sit and plan it out to my own satisfaction before giving it a go. I’d love to hear from you if you do outdoor learning with your students – let me know through social media or the website please!
We’re going to round out August with this headline from ABC News on August 28 “Free period products to be rolled out across WA’s public secondary schools.” Here is a little snippet before we move on to September “Free pads and tampons will be offered to WA public school students in years 7 to 12 to ensure girls are not skipping class because they cannot afford sanitary products. WA is the last state in Australia to offer free period products in schools, with the program set to roll out in the first term of next year.”
The very first day of September started off with this headline by the ABC “Public service wage freeze sparks strike action from NT teachers and prison officers, supported by nurses and firefighters”. The article reads “Teachers are leading strikes over a public service wage freeze in the Northern Territory, arguing wages must remain above those offered interstate to keep — or get — its classrooms staffed. Full-day strikes took place in Darwin and Alice Springs as well as regional and remote communities on Thursday, after the Australian Education Union NT branch rejected a new deal offered by the government late on Tuesday. Wages for all public servants in the NT are frozen for four years at 2021 levels under budget repair policies implemented by the government.”. Hmm.
While all these strikes focused on pay as one of the core issues, I think it’s important to note that that’s not the only thing keeping teachers out of the profession in one way or another. This article, also by the ABC, on September 5 explores that “For this teacher weighing up a return to the classroom, there are bigger issues than pay” “Paige Rundle is on long service leave from the profession she loves, but admits it’s unlikely she will return to teaching full time. Ms Rundle is one of thousands of registered Australian teachers opting not to step back into the classroom, as the teacher shortage worsens. But she says it’s not a question of pay. “The money’s not that bad — it’s that they’ve taken teaching out of our hands,” she said. “They’ve got to give teachers the freedom to actually teach.” Ms Rundle is studying publishing and weighing up a career change, but admits teaching will always be in her blood. “I’ve started teaching horseriding, because it scratches the ‘itch’, but it’s sad because the same joy isn’t there in the classroom anymore, and it should be,” she said.”. This mirrors previous conversations held in the media and in our staffrooms. It’s such a multifaceted thing.
And of course it’s not just school teachers who face these issues – the very next day The Guardian headlined “More than 1,000 Australian childcare centres to strike for better pay and conditions. Early childhood education workers will walk off the job on Wednesday with rallies to be held in every capital city and some regional centres.” It absolutely cannot be denied that early childhood educators have a far worse deal than us teachers – I remember when I worked at Boost Juice while studying at uni, and earning more per hour than daycare workers. You know, the people who care for and raise our youngest members of society.
Taking a quick step back to September 2, I was pleased to see this headline in the SMH “A Caution on consent and sex education – in our rush to do better, don’t cause harm”. This message perfectly mirrors the conversations I had with Maria Delaney earlier in the year. She has spent a very long time in the space of domestic violence and surrounding areas education, and her biggest concern with the rollout of national consent education is that it would come in a very cookie-cutter shape. Maria cautioned how programs really need to be contextualised to the individual communities, and that they need to be approached extremely delicately and with whole-community buy-in. We run the risk of causing great distress and confusion, especially amongst students who may be experiencing such things at home. You know that feeling of ‘don’t get involved, you might make it worse for them’ when you see something happening, that rings very true here. The whole process should proceed with great care and caution, and appropriate training for every single adult involved.
September 9 saw The Educator Online publish this article “SA strives to provide autism teachers in every primary school by 2023”. “Instead of sorting out people on the spectrum to special schools, the South Australia Government will place a specialist autism teacher in every government primary school in the state by 2023. The $28.8 million program came to fruition after the appointment of Emily Bourke as Australia’s first autism minister in late August. Her entrance to the state cabinet follows after new research from the University of South Australia showed that parents lack awareness on the specific learning needs of autistic children. Each school will receive guidelines this week on how to choose an autism inclusion teacher by November. Once selected, they will undergo more training to grow each school’s capacity to work with children with autism in time for when Term 1 starts.”. This is such a pleasing and interesting development to me. So many people are unaware of the intricacies of the Autism spectrum, and the needs of students living in that space. Having a really well trained teacher present in each school to guide practice sounds wonderful. As mentioned in my episode about Shelley Moore’s work, a lot of support systems that could be put in place for these students will be hugely beneficial to other students as well. The article backed this up by ending with “Last month, SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said South Australia “aspires to be a national leader” when it comes to serving the neurodiverse community. “South Australia is leading the way in inclusive education,” Education Minister Blair Boyer said. “We know that there is a huge benefit for students, families, the community and South Australia more broadly by improving the support we put around autistic students.”
September 14 saw this headline in The Conversation “The Productivity Commission says Australian schools ‘fall short’ on quality and equity. What happens now?”. What now, indeed. I was actually pleased with this article in that it didn’t go down the ‘teacher bashing’ route. Instead, it discussed things at a very high level. “The Productivity Commission has just released a review of school standards in Australia. It finds we “persistently fall short” when it comes to providing a high quality and equitable education for all students. Coming in at 253 pages, there is a lot to read. And a lot we already know. But this report comes at a crucial time for Australian education. Outcomes are slipping, despite repeated attempts to improve them. And teacher shortages mean we need urgent measures as well as long-term changes.” Woop, there’s another article about it. I wonder if we did a count across the year, how many articles were about teacher shortages and the fact that we need urgent measures to address it. The rest of the article outlines how results are declining, teachers are burning out, and how we all need greater support to raise everything up. So nothing really new here, but worthy of mention purely because it was not teacher bashing.
The Educator Online published this one on September 23rd “Expert panel to revamp initial teacher education”. “The Federal Government has announced the creation of an expert panel to review how initial teacher education (ITE) is taught at universities across Australia. The announcement follows high-level discussions aimed at tackling the most pressing issues facing Australian education – namely schools struggling to retain teachers and meet urgent resourcing needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In August, the first face-to-face meeting of Federal and State Education Ministers in more than a year concluded with an agreement to create a ‘national action plan’ by December to address the growing teacher shortage in Australia’s schools.” The panel doesn’t seem to include any practicing classroom teachers, which is a very big oversight in my eyes. We teachers seem to be told what to do exclusively by people who are no longer in the classroom, which means they don’t actually understand the current intricacies of the day-to-day job.
Remember the story we’ve touched on a couple of times about the high school student who stabbed her teacher? WA Today finally reported that she has been sentenced to three years in jail. So finally a bit of justice there!
In a bit of an accidental PR move, this headline came from News.com.au on September 26 “Tasmanian school’s meteorite landing simulation sends thousands into a panic. A “meteor landing” at an Australian school has sent thousands into a panic, forcing emergency services to make an important clarification.”. “A Tasmanian school community sent thousands into a panic after photos of a “meteor landing” in the playground were posted online and shared around the world. Images of suited-up scientists examining what looked like a rock from space that had torn up the bitumen of Corpus Christi Catholic School in Lauderdale, near Hobart, led some to believe that it was a real meteor strike. The story was picked up by a local radio station and pictures of the event reached as far as Sri Lanka. However, the unbelievable event was less extraterrestrial and more educational, as it was a part of the school’s Meteorite Discovery Day put on for students. “We‘re trying to foster inquiries-based learning for the students, and we figured a great way to do that was to do something pretty wild,” Deputy Principal Ben Morgan told NCA NewsWire. Using an excavator and a boulder that looked particularly “out-of-this-world”, local company Mansfield Builders created the realistic meteor landing. Both Tasmanian Police and the local fire brigade were forced to put out statements declaring the scene to be false after initial photos created a stir.” Talk about going accidentally viral! What a fun thing to happen!
So now we move into October, and to be honest a lot of the reporting is getting repetitive – teacher shortages, school funding, how to ‘fix’ the education system.
This article in The Guardian on October 7 raised a few eyebrows “King’s School in Sydney under investigation over use of taxpayer money. Elite private school reportedly planned to install plunge pool at headteacher’s house. The school says it takes its obligations seriously and is cooperating with the department.” “An elite private school that charges $25,000 a year to educate seven-year-olds is under investigation over its use of taxpayer funds. The King’s School in Sydney reportedly planned to install a plunge pool at the headteacher’s residence and sent the school’s senior staff to attend a British rowing event. Those reports have sparked a NSW Department of Education inquiry into the 191-year-old independent school’s use of public funding. “The expectation of any non-government school receiving public funding is very clear: the funding must be for the education of its students,” the education minister, Sarah Mitchell, said in a statement on Friday.” I guess this once again raises the issue of the amount of public funding that private schools receive.
October 13 brought us this headline from The Conversation “If Australia wants to improve school outcomes, we need to define what ‘equity’ really means”. I think a lot of us would agree that it means fair funding, to avoid situation like the last story. But the authors go deeper than this. “If Australia is serious about improving its education system, we need to look at improving the whole system, for all students. This means we need a clear definition of what equity means for schools. Our submission to the Productivity Commissions’s school agreement inquiry proposes a clear definition of educational equity. We argue equity has two dimensions: individual and social. That is, equity should involve a minimum level educational attainment for all students, and similar education outcomes for different social groups. An individual dimension of equity in education means that all children receive an education that enables them to fully participate in adult society in a way of their choosing.” Of course we are far from this outcome. The article didn’t provide actionable solutions, but it was very thought-provoking none the less.
The next day saw this heartbreaking headline from the BBC “Australia floods: Three states issue evacuation orders after heavy rain”. This article was followed by this one in The Guardian on October 16 “More than 100 schools to be closed on Monday amid Victorian flood crisis”. That’s right, after what was endured at the beginning of the year, we were now about to go through it again. The impact was just as devastating as the previous floods, perhaps more so as the trauma was so fresh and far too many people hadn’t even begun to recover.
October 16 also saw this headline in Financial Review “End the lesson lottery in Australia’s schools. Giving teachers practical guidance and the time-saving teaching plans they want will reduce the variability of what is taught in the nation’s classrooms.” I’m sure most of you will agree this is exactly NOT what we want. What we want is to have the time and freedom to creatively craft our lessons to best suit the students we have in front of us at the time. We all know how disastrous prescriptive lesson plans can be, and that often our best teaching moments happen because of a tangent or stray question. The article is very well-intentioned, outlining the amount of time teachers spend planning and sourcing lessons, as well as a call for high quality, readily accessibly resources for teachers to use if they please. But.. they tried that with C2C. It HAS been done. Here is a snippet from the article “All schools and all teachers should have ready access to high-quality, comprehensive curriculum materials that they can adapt and use, if they choose. These materials should be well-sequenced and detailed, covering the lesson plans, teaching materials, workbooks and assessments needed to teach each subject. These materials should be quality-assured by a new independent review body, so teachers can be confident the materials are road-tested and ready for the classroom.” You and I both know that this is fantastic in theory, less so in practice – what works in my classroom may very well not work at all in yours. And it would leave very little room, or just as much work as before, for contextualisation, particularly for rural and remote schools.
That article was followed by a few others with titles similar to this one by the ABC “Teachers drowning in ‘near-impossible’ amount of lesson planning, forcing them to rely on sites like YouTube, report finds”. It reads “Damning new Grattan Institute research shows a lack of curriculum detail and inadequate support is leaving many teachers drowning in a “near-impossible” amount of lesson planning. It found less than a fifth of teachers have access to a common bank of pre-prepared high-quality curriculum materials for all their classes. The research said the gap created a disjointed “lesson lottery” where teaching quality varied from teacher to teacher and school to school, depending on the level of planning support. “The current challenges are not due to a lack of effort on the part of teachers; [too] often they are left to do their best in near-impossible circumstances,” the report said. It suggests governments work with schools to develop high-quality, sequenced curriculum documents teachers can then adapt for their classes — a practice that is not widespread. Grattan Institute senior associate Amy Haywood, who co-wrote the report, said successive governments had left teachers to flounder without support. She said governments had radically underestimated the amount of work — and the challenge — of taking “high level, very broad documents” such as the Australian Curriculum or state level curriculum and translating that into teaching and learning in the class. The research found a high school teacher responsible for four different classes would need 2,000 hours, or a year working full time, to adequately plan their lessons from scratch. “If they do it within their working hours during term, they’d never have stepped foot inside a classroom,” she said. Ms Haywood said that often meant teachers were scrambling for resources on unvetted sites like YouTube and teacher resource sharing hubs.” I think this paints the picture wrong, at least in my own experience. I love using sites like YouTube, but I do so not as a time-saving resource, or a replacement-for-me-teaching resource, but as a supplementary and complementary learning tool. I talked about this with Adam Voigt in my episode with him – having someone else explain a topic can really help student gain a deeper understanding, and videos can provide a far richer learning experience in some cases than I can. For example I obviously can’t take students to watch an erupting volcano and the subsequent lava flow, but we can watch a scientist explore this phenomenon on Youtube. I get what they mean when they say it’s unvetted – searching for a video that’s just a couple of minutes long can actually take hours to get just the right one. But again, the video that’s best for my class might not be best for yours, and you may choose something completely different. All classroom teachers know this, and we operate under this knowledge. Thankfully the ABC article was pretty forgiving of teachers, but some of the other reports out at this time about this topic weren’t – they were strongly suggesting that teachers were using YouTube because they were lazy.
The next series of articles addressed a deeply concerning trend. The ABC lead with this headline “African Australian students are subjected to the n-word and racism in the classroom, according to report”. The report in question “The Ubuntu Project, which supports multicultural youths, asked nearly 100 African Australian students about their experiences. Their report, released on Wednesday, shows 87 per cent of respondents felt they had been discriminated against in school. Ninety-one per cent of respondents said they had seen students being subjected to racism in school. When it came to who was perpetrating the racism, 80 per cent of respondents said other students were responsible. Sixty-seven per cent said teachers were responsible, and 21 per cent noted principals had been racist. The report’s data was based on the results of an online survey of 76 students and focus groups with a further 17 young people in Melbourne. All of the respondents were born in Africa or had ancestors from an African country, and were either in high school or had been in high school in the past five years.”. The articles all called for more and better anti-racism training and education in schools. But I wonder if it would ever be enough – to be truly anti-racist requires a very deep self-reflection and constant work, and I don’t think our schools are equipped, at least not at the moment, to effectively do this essential work.
October 24 brought this incredibly shocking headline, something non of us saw coming, in The West Australian “Alarming Australia-wide study finds teachers don’t feel respected or safe at work, and few plan to stay”. We’ve had almost a full year of similar articles, so this clickbait headline really did catch my eye! Here’s a snippet from the article “Teachers are planning to leave the profession in droves as their sense of satisfaction slumps, while an alarming number do not feel safe at work, a major national study has concluded. Monash University education experts surveyed more than 5000 teachers nation-wide, finding 70 per cent did not feel respected by the Australian public. That conflicts with a 2019 survey suggesting high levels of respect for teachers in the community and a follow up survey in 2020 that found appreciation for teachers rose as they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The current disconnect highlights a gap between what we think and how we behave,” the 2022 report’s lead author Fiona Longmuir said. Notably, the group that teachers felt most respect from were students, with almost 51 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing with that proposition. For parents, it was just 33.3 per cent. Parents were mentioned in almost half the 38,000 comments provided, described by teachers as “abusive”, “unsupportive”, “unrealistic” and “demanding”. Worryingly, one-quarter of teachers reported feeling unsafe on the job. Also alarming was work satisfaction plunging from 65.9 per cent to 45.8 per cent between the university’s 2019 and 2022 surveys, with only 30 per cent now planning to remain in the vocation, despite 80 per cent having a strong sense of belonging to it.” So there you have it, more data about what we already know. I wonder who will use this data, and in what way? Or will it sit forever stagnant in articles like this one?
Finally, toward the end of October, we have a truly lovely headline by the ABC “NT teacher crowned national slam poetry champion after performance about education system.” Maybe not lovely because of the topic being about the constraints of the education system, but lovely to see Joanna Yang’s new passion in slam poetry recognised at the national level.
We then saw a slew of articles about the National Budget. Due to time, I’ve decided to not actually address these articles. It would be it’s own series to dissect the budget, and the media reporting on it. If you’re super keen for me to cover it, let me know though!
And so we move into November.
Surprise! We’re in to November, and the same topics keep cycling back through the media! To save your interest, I’ve filtered out the rehashing of teacher shortages, fixing thing etc etc.
The first article for November is yet another contentious issue. We’ve certainly had a lot of them throughout the year! This one was published by the ABC on November 2, with the headline “Mobile phones to be banned in Northern Territory government school classrooms from 2023.” The article reads “Mobile phones will be banned across Northern Territory government schools in a move intended to curb classroom distractions, bullying and mental health issues among young people. The ban — which follows other statewide policies around Australia — will take place from Term 1 of 2023. Secondary school students will be required to turn the devices off and put them away during school hours. They will be banned altogether at primary schools. “I firmly believe that by banning mobile phones we’ll see our students, our young people, engaging socially more, having those interactions at recess and lunchtime instead of spending their whole time on their phone,” Education Minister Eva Lawler said. “For our teachers, it provides them more time to teach the classroom rather than worrying about the disruptions caused by mobile phones.” Exceptions to the rule may be allowed for research or medical purposes.” I’d love to hear your personal thoughts on this one, mine are very mixed. They can provide a great educational tool, especially in high school science for example, but of course they can be a huge distraction and a tool for bullying. Please do reach out and let me know what your school does, and what your thoughts are on this topic!
This next article headline might make you chuckle though. Published by the ABC on November 3, the headline reads “Albanese government to launch multi-million dollar PR campaign to bring ‘respect’ back to teaching.” Woohoo! Thanks guys! Here are some snippets from the article “The federal government will trial new ways to reduce teacher workloads and launch a multi-million dollar PR campaign as part of its draft plan to address teacher shortages. The draft national plan follows months of roundtable discussions, and is being released for stakeholder feedback before the final policy is agreed on in December. It is a response to escalating education work shortages, with the federal government predicting that if nothing changes, there will be around 4,000 fewer teachers than required by 2025. Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, Education Minister Jason Clare said $25 million would be spent trialling ways to reduce teacher workloads and to “maximise the time” teachers spent actually teaching. “This fund is available to work with state governments and territory governments to test and try new things,” he said. He said solutions like increased teacher aide support, employing parents to do administrative work, as well as improved curriculum planning support were all on the table. He also flagged funding for a $10 million campaign to raise the profile of teaching, a recommendation put forward by a recent government-funded review. “The respect that the profession gets today isn’t what it used to get,” he said. “Too many people overlook teaching as a profession when they’re sitting their final exams at high school thinking about what they want to be after school.””. Ahh, it’s amusing to me that the very body who chooses to underfund the profession, and have many members on record making outright insulting comments about it, is now complaining about a lack of respect for it. I wonder if this plan will include a push on the media to stop the teacher-bashing style articles.
November 7 brought this worrying headline from 9 News “Teachers most at risk of assault, research shows”. “Teachers are at far greater risk of being injured in an assault or suffering a mental health condition than any other profession, according to new research. Educators were compared to the broader workforce in an analysis by Monash University of workers’ compensation claims from more than 1.5 million Australians over six years. The research found teachers may be under-reporting their injuries, while the state with the highest number of claims was New South Wales.”. This links back to my own articles from years ago – one about stories of violence teachers had endured, and another about the research around violence against teachers. Since I wrote those articles, these topics have steadily increased in interest. That is pleasing but also worrying. A bit more from the article “In contrast to the rest of the findings, the overall claim rate for teachers was far lower than the rest of the workforce, leading researchers to believe there is a culture in the profession of not reporting injuries. “Rather than go through the rigmarole of lodging a claim, taking the time off, finding a substitute, building a lesson plan, you just say, ‘I’ll bear with it until the school holidays’,” Lane said.” I know from my own articles and conversations in and out of staffrooms that this is absolutely the case. Teachers are even often encouraged by their leadership team to not report, citing a wide variety of excuses, sorry, reasons.
On November 9, The Conversation had an article with a very interesting topic. “‘Once students knew their identity, they excelled’: how to talk about excellence in Indigenous education”. From the article “When we talk about Indigenous education in Australia, it almost always includes three words: “close the gap”. The federal government’s Indigenous education priorities highlight school attendance, literacy and numeracy and year 12 attainment. This frames students and their families as a “problem” to “fix”. In other areas of education, the word “excellence” is frequently used to frame policy. But a simple Google search of “excellence” and “Indigenous education” comes up with very few meaningful results. Why aren’t we starting from the same point in Indigenous education?”. That made me stop and think about my own experiences with Indigenous education, and it certainly has always been from the lens of ‘closing the gap’. The article discussed how the researchers had yarned with 31 Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators, principals and teachers about their perspectives on excellence in Indigenous education. They explored the question: “How is excellence in Indigenous education defined by Indigenous peoples?”. Three themes emerged: the young person, school culture and relationships. “The most distinct theme to emerge was the need to nurture and affirm culture and identity in students and in doing so, “build young people up”. Indigenous interviewees talked about identity as a protective factor in the face of navigating issues such as racism at school.” In terms of School Culture, the article reads “Research already tells us the leadership of a school plays a critical role in its culture. Our research also shows it is vital for excellence in Indigenous education. ”. Then on to relationships “Previous research also recognises how positive relationships with students are connected to positive outcomes for students.”. “In all our conversations with educators and support staff in school, one other thing stood out. When asked to think about “excellence” in Indigenous education, many of these experts struggled to conceptualise what it is or should be. We believe this is due to the dominance of “closing the gap”. Those three words have been so influential in shaping the minds of educators and support staff in schools. This highlights the power and importance of language. We need new ways to speak aspirationally about Indigenous education and move on from the old deficit vocabulary.” I think it’s definitely worth of a bit of soul-searching within yourself, and how you personally frame Indigenous education. Is there a way you can shift your own perspective to be more aspirational for the students you teach?
November 21 brough us this awful headline from the BBC “Sydney school students injured after science experiment goes wrong”. “At least 11 students at a primary school in the Australian city of Sydney have been injured after a classroom science experiment went wrong. Reports say at least two students were taken via ambulance to hospital with serious burns. Nine others are believed to have suffered superficial burns. An experiment involving sodium bicarbonate and methylated spirits was reportedly affected by a gust of wind.”. I work as an advisor with Science ASSIST, Australia’s only national school science advisory service. When we heard about this horrific incident, a lot of attention in the media was turned towards safety in experiments, teacher responsibility etc. Some were even calling for a ban on experiments like this. But the reality is that science experiments provide a wonderfully unique, and sometimes necessary, learning experience. Appropriate risk mitigation needs to occur, of course, but also of course random chance accidents do happen. Overall this was an horrific accident, and I hope everyone has recovered ok.
Jumping topics, 7 News headlined “Queensland teachers to sign enterprise agreement giving them the right to completely switch off after work. The ‘digital detox’ outlined in a three-year enterprise agreement is aimed at improving teachers’ work/life balance.”. You know, it’s a bit ludicrous to me that this has to be written into our enterprise bargaining agreement. Can’t we just stop working when we stop working? I know a lot face pushback from parents in particular, who themselves may only be able to respond to school correspondence in the evenings. But our workday is our workday, and if we choose to not extend that into the evening, that should be our right, without having to have it written into our EB.
And with that, we are already in December! Woohoo!
I finished researching for this podcast on December 21, so anything published after this date won’t be included. I have to tell you, it has been literal days of research, consideration, and writing for these two episodes!
I’m going to start December with a disclaimer that I won’t be talking about the Wieambilla incident. Yes, I know those involved were ex-teachers and principals, but out of respect to the victims, and the ongoing investigations, I won’t be talking about it. Which incidentally removes a whole lot of potential content, so December is going to be quite short.
Let’s start with this headline from The Conversation on December 2nd “A push to raise the school starting age to 6 sounds like good news for parents, but there’s a catch”. This article discussed how a NSW proposal suggested that all children should start school in the year they turn 6. This is of course quite different to what happens around Aus, and each state has it’s own cut off dates. The purpose of the article wasn’t the comparison though, it was to raise awareness that making the starting age later than it currently is could be very disadvantageous for families who are already disadvantaged. The article discussed how those children from more advantaged families tended to start school with a year delay, particularly young boys. Those coming from more disadvantaged families tended to not have this delayed start, and part of that at least can be attributed to the cost of daycare. Where there is not a subsidised form of last-year-of-daycare-setting-before-hitting-big-school-setting, families can be forced to overlook their need or desire to delay school start. The article then outlined the importance of quality early childhood education that retains a focus on true play-based learning, rather than school-readiness skills. It ended with this “So, school at six is good idea, but it needs to be supported by free, high-quality, play-based early childhood education that is available to all children. And this will require significant investment from governments.”
Speaking of government investment, The Conversation published this article on December 5 “Australian private high school enrolments have jumped 70% since 2012”. “An increasing number of Australian children are going to private high schools, new research shows. The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Annual Statistical Report has found an increasing number of students going to public schools over non-government (Catholic and other private) schools for the primary years. But once students get to high school, the trend is significantly reversed.” The article outlined statistics drawn from the study, showing a clear increase in the number of students enrolled in private schools for their high school years. I’m going to read you another chunk from the article, because it’s so interesting as both a public school teacher and a parent. “While there are many options for schools in Australia, where you live and your financial resources will affect what is available to you. So, why do so many families pay for private schools, particularly for high school? High marks and successful university entrance results are obvious reasons. However, research in Australia and worldwide shows the exam scores of children who attended private schools are no different to those in public schools, after accounting for socio-economic background. That is, the academic achievement of expensive private schools might say more about the families (and their incomes and education levels) who send their children to those schools, rather than anything particularly unique to the school’s teaching and learning.
So, what are the reasons for this increase? While our 2020 study did not specifically ask parents about their school choices, we did ask them about the levels of satisfaction with their children’s school experience and other various education outcomes. We found parents of students who attended private schools (both at primary and high-school levels) self-rated the quality of education higher than Catholic or public school parents. They were also more likely to declare their their children’s overall achievement as “excellent” or “above average”. Meanwhile, 71.9% of private school parents expected their children to go to university, compared to 67% of Catholic school parents and 47.8% of government school parents. This suggests parents are sending their children to private schools because they think it will give them a better education. Results from the HILDA survey seem to indicate parents may have different motivations around school choice for the primary and secondary years. For primary school, parents may want to send the children to a local (free) public school because they are understandably not as focused on exam results and career prospects. But for high school, they may think the extra financial investment is worth it and want a certain type of culture or value system for their teenagers to grow up and study in. Their ideas about academic excellence, citizenship and friendship networks may become more important to try and ensure their children’s desired success in life. But given access to free, good-quality education is a fundamental right in Australia, these figures are a concern. Parents should not have to pay to get (what they believe is) a better education. And any family, regardless of their income or where they live, should be able to access quality education for their children.”. Isn’t it interesting how perception is the biggest driver here, aside from financial ability. Parents *think* private schools are far better than public, so that’s that, even when the research shows there’s no tangible difference in academic outcomes. I know for myself as a parent, school facilities play a big role in decision making – if I have the option between two schools who both ‘feel’ equal, I’d be going for the one with the shinier, newer, more expansive resources. Which we know damn well private school have, because of their insane government funding in and above their own fees.
The SMH ran with this headline, which I couldn’t really see mirrored anywhere else “Call to bring back one-year diploma to ease teacher shortage”. I find it amusing that this is a contentious issue, given that I did exactly that to get into my teaching career. I’d completed a bachelor of science, then a masters of science communication before deciding that education was where my real passion lie. So at the time that meant doing a one-year graduate diploma, and off I went! Does that mean I was less prepared than others? I have no idea, but I do know my pracs were 7 and 8 week long blocks, which is possibly the longest I’ve come across. I really feel those lengthy blocks were super beneficial to my learning of the profession, as I was able to track and teach pretty much an entire unit each time. I don’t see a problem with this making a comeback.
Circling back once again to funding, The Guardian ran an article titled “Labor’s delay on public schools funding deal a ‘betrayal’ of disadvantaged students, advocates say. Australia’s education minister Jason Clare says government still committed to schools getting 100% ‘fair funding’”. Here are a few snippets from the article to put things in perspective for you “The Albanese government has been accused of betraying public schools after delaying a new funding agreement by one year. On Friday, the council of education ministers decided to extend the deal until December 2024, meaning governments will not have to increase public school funding beyond existing commitments until 2025. The federal education minister, Jason Clare, defended the delay as necessary to conduct a review to ensure funding is directed to the neediest students, but the Australian Education Union (AEU) has warned “resources delayed are resources denied”. Public schools receive 20% of the schooling resourcing standard (SRS) from the federal government and up to 75% from the states, but due to a loophole for capital depreciation, are set to remain at 91% of full funding for the rest of the decade. Before the 2022 election Labor committed only to develop a “pathway” to full funding, sparking concern from the AEU that the timeline for improvement was vague. Cobbold said public schools on average receive just 87.1% of the schooling resource standard, and the current timeline was costing them $6bn a year in funding. The AEU’s president, Correna Haythorpe, said the one-year extension “delays and therefore denies students in public schools the funding they need”. “There has now been a generation of children who have been denied full and fair funding for their entire school lives. This can no longer continue.” Haythorpe said the review should confirm governments must “ensure public schools are funded to a minimum of 100% of the [standard] from 2024”. Greens schools spokesperson, senator Penny Allman-Payne, said the delay was “outrageous” and would see “public school kids wait another year for a fair go while continuing to pour public money into elite private schools”. “This decision will also heap further strain on under-resourced teachers and schools, and will worsen crippling teacher shortages.” By now I’m sure you have an idea of my thoughts and feelings behind this…
And finally, I’m going to end with this one article from The Conversation on December 20, wrapping up a well-flogged media frenzy topic “Australia has a plan to fix its school teacher shortage. Will it work?”. I’ll read you this reminder from the article “Remind me, what’s in the plan?
The final plan, like the draft, identifies five priority areas to attract and retain high-quality teachers to the profession:
- improving teacher supply
- strengthening teaching degrees
- keeping the teachers we have
- elevating the profession
- better understanding of future teacher workforce needs.
There were more than 650 submissions to the draft. Initially there were 28 recommendations or “actions”. The final version has 27, after one initial idea – a “teacher of the year” award – was scrapped based on teacher feedback. The final plan still includes measures such as a national campaign to raise the status of teachers and A$30 million to reduce teachers’ workloads.” Overall, the article had two views of our national plan to fix things “A charitable view and a cynical one. The plan includes an extensive appendix of more than 200 initiatives already underway across all states and territories, and across all three sectors (government, Catholic, independent), to address teacher shortages. A charitable view is this plan will complement and build on these, increasing the total effort and funds applied. A cynical view is these initiatives aren’t yet having their desired impact, so planning to do even more of them may not be effective either.”. So it kind of feels like we’re right back where we started in January – a whole lot of media hype, a whole lot of political talk, and that’s that! Hopefully this review at the end of next year outlines things having actually happened and being actually beneficial to us teachers.
And with that, we are DONE! What an incredible year it has been! I can see three overriding topics of media conversation throughout 2022 – COVID, teacher shortages, and how to fix teacher shortages. I’m sure the COVID topic will wean out over the next year, as we move further into the stage of the pandemic of learning to live alongside it. I’m also sure we have only scratched the surface of teacher shortage, and fixing, articles – this issue is going to keep getting worse, at least for a while, before it can get better.
If you’ve stayed with me for the entirely of these two episodes, well done! It’s taken me a good 4 to 5 solid days of researching to get all this together. If you’d like to see more of this media reporting throughout the year, please let me know! Or if there are any other topics you want to explore, guests you want to hear from, or you yourself would like to come on as a guest, get in touch via social media or the website.
I am now going to take a break, so expect the first episode of the new year in early February! Make sure you’re subscribed via your podcast streamer of choice, so you don’t miss it when it comes. And if you’re a long time listener, let your friends know about it too! I can’t thank you enough for your time this year, literally would be pointless if you all weren’t tuning in for each new episode.
So thank you, and I hope you enjoy your holiday season!