22 May 2023

Monaro students and teachers set to benefit from move to permanent positions

| Claire Sams
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Members of the Queanbeyan Teachers Association

Members of the Queanbeyan Teachers Association, pictured above, have been among those calling for better conditions for New South Wales’ teachers. Photo: Patrick Doswell.

As NSW teachers look to a new plan to move them away from temporary contracts, one teacher is keen to bring an end to more than a decade of uncertain work.

Teachers on temporary contracts face a stressful and insecure working situation that Queanbeyan Teachers Association vice-president Patrick Doswell knows firsthand.

“I, myself, have been working on temporary contracts for 11 years – which is why I’m hoping to benefit from this, as many do.”

Now nine staff at Queanbeyan High School, six at Karabar High School, nine at Distance Education, six at Queanbeyan Public School and seven at Monaro High are likely to be offered permanent positions.

The move follows an election commitment from Labor, in which the party pledged to move 10,000 temporary teachers onto permanent positions if it was voted in.

These staff members are part of the first group and are expected to have their first day of permanent teaching on the first day of term three.

Mr Doswell had simple words for the announcement: “It’s about time.”

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Being on a temporary contract was a struggle for both teachers and schools, he said.

“No one’s a teacher for the money – I’m sure that amount of teachers being put into a permanent role would feel so much security,” he said.

“I know that at the end of the school year, writing an expression of interest for a job that you’ve got, essentially, is a tough burden.”

This insecure work situation compounded an already stretched workforce, he said, with some classes having to be divided if a teacher was away sick and no one was available to cover them.

“The result is less learning for that child, since they’re not getting to be with their teacher,” Mr Doswell said.

State Member for Monaro Steve Whan said having teachers stuck on long-term temporary positions had been a factor in many leaving the profession.

“Without permanency, our teachers have trouble getting home loans, they can’t get parental leave, and, with their massive workloads, they are frequently lured into permanent jobs in other professions,” Mr Whan said.

“It’s a particular problem in our region, with many public service positions available across the border.”

Mr Doswell has also seen teachers staying in the profession, but moving interstate.

With recent news Canberra teachers are likely to see a pay increase that would bring top salaries to near $130,000, he said he was expecting a potential rise in interstate moves.

“I can only expect that with us being so close to the ACT border, we’re going to see a lot more teachers just jumping over there to teach, to get a better quality of life.”

The final offer still needs to be balloted to the Australian Education Union’s ACT branch members but is expected to be approved.

READ ALSO: This first-year teacher quit after only six months on the job. Why?

While the news was welcome, Mr Doswell said, teachers would like more from the Government.

“We need a big move to lessen the workload, encouragements for people to become teachers so we can deal with the ageing workforce that we have and attract new staff, and, to borrow the union words, scrapping the cap so we can make this profession more attractive to new teachers,” he said.

“There’s still much to be done, but this is a good start.”

Teachers did their best, but often struggled due to factors outside of their control, Mr Doswell said. However, they remained committed to giving students the best education they could.

“We are still providing the best education that we can,” he said.

“That won’t stop.”

Once principals confirm the eligibility of their staff, the Department of Education can make formal offers to those employees.

“The NSW Department of Education will work through the remaining eligible staff in the coming months,” Mr Whan said.

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