The rhetoric behind Gonski 2.0 relies on an assumption that a marginal increase in funding will magically solve all of our education afflictions. Whilst the federal government is celebrating their vote-winning funding package, they have failed to address any tangible method in increasing student attendance and performance. Throwing money at schools isn’t enough. The teaching profession is a grueling and often unforgiving battle. The reasons why teaching is such a hard job is multifaceted, and requires our appointed leaders to actually spend time in schools, especially lower socio-economic public schools, to see just how hard it is to engage our students, let alone meeting the ever increasing demands in terms of workloads, administration and time volunteered. Teachers ‘burning out’ is all too common, and it seems that nothing has changed in the last twenty years, in which 50% of all teaching graduates quit the profession in the first five years. They leave due to the incredible demands that are made through both school leaders, students and parents, and the levels of stress that can easily spiral out of control.
For anyone who isn’t a teacher, and who subsequently scoffs at a teacher, stating that teachers shouldn’t complain, they ‘get all of the school holidays’, surely have little comprehension on just how mentally taxing this job is. Teachers often leave the profession, as they can move in to another profession which has less demands and higher wages. An increase of federal funding is a good first step, but ultimately, it is the state governments, state Catholic Education Commissions, and individual private schools who control how funding for their respective schools is allocated, and more importantly, it is these stake holders who control teacher salary and working conditions. Student achievement and wellbeing can only increase if the teachers at the frontline are duly acknowledged in the form of appropriate working conditions and wages. Perhaps if these conditions are improved, not only will schools be able to retain staff, perhaps more people would be attracted to the profession for our future generations of students to benefit from.
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