Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple school principals and departmental officers bully classroom teachers into ill health and out of work.

The Teacher Unions are almost powerless.

The teacher unions didn't want grades. They got grades.

They didn't want NAPLAN. They got NAPLAN.

They didn't want government funding for non-government schools. They got funding for non-government schools.

They didn't want increased teaching loads. They got increased teaching loads.

On and on the list goes.

 

There has just been an EBA agreed in Victoria.

The Victorian teacher's union (AEU) won nothing at all.

The AEU is claiming a great victory, as it always does, but it is nothing of the sort.

There are four key aspects of any agreement - 1) salaries, 2) career structure, 3) security of employment and 4) workload.

There was a positive result on the first three, but the AEU had nothing to do with it.

1) The AEU asked for 21 per cent increase in pay over three years and settled for 3.25 per cent a year for four years.

This is a good result as it is about twice the CPI increase and thus a real increase, but it is what the Victorian government always offers (apart from in 2008, when teachers at the top of the scale got a $10,000 increase) and what the union always accepts in the end.

2)The Victorian government will introduce some 3,000 learning specialists.

These are classroom teachers who will be paid the same as leading teachers, who take on administrative jobs for extra pay.

This was not an AEU victory, but a government election promise:

"Labor will ...Reward outstanding teachers with incentives to stay in the classroom in a full teaching role and to share their expertise with other teachers and mentor student teachers and beginning teachers."(p29, Labor platform 2014) 

This issue was first raised in a green paper in about 1979.

Victorian governments on three occasions said they had done something to implement this idea, but this was not correct.

Every pointless career restructure since the 1990's has required Victorian teachers to take on administrative duties for significant additional pay.

This is the first time that significant extra pay will go to teachers who  do not take on administrative positions but who are exemplary teachers who will take their classes and mentor colleagues.

It is a fantastic initiative by a government that is determined to change education in this state.

The government will make a substantial reduction in the number of teachers on short-term contracts.

This too is an election promise, not an AEU victory.

"Labor will ... Minimise the use of contracts and short term positions for teachers "(p29, Labor platform 2014) 

The AEU caved in on workload, so the minimum weekly teaching load of 20 hours for secondary teachers remains higher than it was in my first school in the 1870's, and the primary load of 22.5 hours  remains higher than it was in the 1980s, while the class size limits of between 21 (prep to year 2), 26 (as an average in each primary school) and 25 (years 7 to 12) are subject to flexibility provisions rather than being strictly adhered to as they were in the 1980s.

There is also an indexing provision that can reduce the maximum teaching load in secondary schools, but using it can simply increase the teaching loads of those teachers with leadership responsibilities.

In other words, it just shifts the burden. 

 

Secondary schools used to have a time allowance pool for administrative roles, such as subject coordination, level coordination, timetabling and so on.

It was 90 minutes per teacher in the 1980s.

The coalition government abolished it completely in 1992.

The AEU got it back at 70 minutes per teacher from the Labor government in 2000 and then, amazingly, agreed to its abolition in 2004.

The AEU no longer even bothers to put it in as an ambit claim. 

 

The teacher unions are almost powerless. 

Chris, Reader's comment, Teacher flaws stifle students, say principals, Stefanie Balogh, The Australian, 18 April 2017 

VIC teacher : classroom teachers need more support.

There are always students with a variety of issues who need support.

In recent times schools and teachers are being asked and expected to take on more than their share of this task, often with little training and authority.

I have taught a number of students who are diabetic.

For one student I and a number of colleagues attended a two-hour training session at a large hospital in unpaid overtime.

We had to pay for parking.

I also had to monitor the student in class for symptoms including lack of attention, a not uncommon feature of many students.

As diabetes can affect concentration I had to check to see if they were ready for tests, etc.

Any excursion or camp required medical checks and overall monitoring.

Fortunately, this was an excellent student who managed their health very well.

If we want all students to have a fair go and we want Australia to move up those various international rankings, then we should consider increasing funding, supporting Australian classroom teachers more, including their pay and working environment. 

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic, Letter to the Editor of the Australian, p.23, The Weekend Australian, 4-5 February 2017. 

Public money is wasted when principals bully teachers into ill health and out of work.

My husband was bullied into serious ill health by a principal and lost his much-loved teaching career.

This principal caused the end of two teachers' careers and two teacher aides' careers.

Even though exposed, after the third person (my husband was injured), the principal was left at the school and injured a fourth person.

The principal was simply spoken to by a Regional Director and reprimanded.

My husband was paid $140,000 to not lodge an affidavit with the Supreme Court in Melbourne.

He has received weekly WorkCover benefits since 2010 and has had many medical expenses paid for by the government's WorkCover insurer.

What a waste of money and upset to my husband and colleagues, simply because nothing was done about a principal who was inexperienced and who has a personality disorder.

 

Dawn Brewer,  https://www.change.org/p/petition-against-workplace-bullying

The damage that plagues decent education standards in Victoria was from the far Left and it continues that way.

The years of the Soviet-influenced Victorian Secondary Teachers Union did much damage.

I could compile a list based on personal experience of the scrapping of all academic standards, victimisation of non-Left teachers, financial support of the old Builders Labourers Federation, and the indoctrination of students that characterised the 1980s.

 

Vivien C. Johnson, Rye, Vic, Letter to the Editor, P.21, The Weekend Australian,  10-11 December 2016

Why do so many teachers resign in less than five years?

(About half of Australia's young teachers resign within their first five years of teaching.

Victorian Principal's Association (Secondary) president Judy Crowe has suggested that young teachers work in regional areas to help them to develop the resilience to deal with -

 * difficult students,

 * the heavy workload

 * and bad relationships with colleagues.)

 

I think the idea of teachers working in the country areas has some merit.

Country kids, in general, are better mannered and country life is not so hectic.

But there are other reasons for the teacher drop-out rate -

 * the crowded curriculum,

 * badly behaved students,

 * short-term contracts,

 * poor leadership,

 * bullying

 * and other issues that make teachers want to walk away.

 

Michele, Reader's Comment, Principals urge remote placement to prepare teachers for workload, David Henning, Herald Sun, 27 November 2016

Melbourne education graduate : I have begun a nursing degree.

I graduated with distinction in 2010 with a double degree in English and teaching, but the best I could get was a term contract and casual relief.

I have since commenced a second degree in nursing.

Now I have over 40,000 dollars debt and counting.

 

 BP of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Easier access to university has devalued degrees, created huge debt and made some feel like failures, Charis Chang, news.com.au , 1 August 2016

Victorian teachers are increasingly subject to abuse.

Victorian parents are bullying teachers online, unleashing nasty comments, defaming people and using obscene language.

The principal of one school rang one parent to tell them to stop, and the parent told the principal to f--- off,  according to Cyber safety expert Susan McLean.

"We are seeing more and more ... totally inappropriate, disrespectful behaviour online.  People think it's harmless fun but it can ruin a teacher's life, and what kind of message is it sending to their children?"

Victorian Association of State Secondary principals Judy Crowe said teachers did not feel they could defend themselves online due to professional standards.

"It is an issue; when you work in the public eye, like teachers do, you can be particularly susceptible to vitriol from individuals," she said.

"It's not fair and does mean you have to be incredibly thick-skinned so you don't get demoralised."

 

Melbourne school writes to parents warning against online teacher abuse, Elissa Doherty, Herald Sun, 12 April 2016

 

Comments on this article (some of the comments below may not be by teachers).

 

Nicole :  Often it is teachers who are doing their job properly who cop a lot of flak.

For example, the school policy states that no mobile phones are allowed in the class.

A teacher asks a student to put their phone away.

The student does not put their phone away.

The teacher gives the student detention.

The parent gets angry with the teacher.

 

 

Michele : A parent who directly abuses and yells at a teacher  is setting a very poor example to their child and to those within listening distance.

This sort of abuse can become a mob mentality and one really has to wonder how these people get by in their daily life.

Would you or your employer allow somebody to waltz into your place of employment and start harassing you?

What redress do teachers have?

A return yelling match?

Countries that do very well - Asian countries and a Scandinavian country - place teachers at the top of the professions, alongside engineers.

I cannot imagine parents in those countries rocking up to their schools and abusing the teachers.

 

Editor : I agree with this comment.

I felt that one Queensland parent was abusing me as a form of free entertainment - she just rocked up at the school and began shouting at me.

She shouted me down whenever I tried to respond.

This went on for thirty minutes.

Then she wrapped her arms around herself, laughed and said "That's what I do! I just say what I think!".

She did not care that what she was yelling about had not happened.

And she did not apologise when she realised that it had not happened.

She was just using me for cheap bogan entertainment.

 

Peter : Teachers need to be held in higher regard, and that does not mean simply paying them more.

It means teaching parents and children to give their teachers the respect they deserve.

If parents demonstrated to their children the sort of restraint that is expected of adults, a lot of the problems in our schools would go away.

We also need to give the power back to schools and principals.

When I was a child we never spoke back to our teachers - they were the adults.

Nowadays, for some reason, parents support their children against the teachers.

Their children will grown up thinking that they have the right to talk to anyone anyway they like - which is not the way it is in real life.

There is a core problem with our society and the way we treat teachers, police and the emergency services.

Unfortunately it must start with parents - they need to stop being friends to their children and start being parents.

 

 

Johnny : Parents would be better off dealing with their children's behaviour instead of being faceless cowards, posting remarks about teachers on social media.

No doubt these parents would be the first to jump up and down if something was posted online about their children.

Let's be honest, the intelligence of parents these days, posting comments on social media, turning up to collect their kids from school after sipping wine all day and getting busted for drink driving - it doesn't give us much confidence in what exactly their children are going to contribute to society in the future.

If we have forums for parents to post comments about teachers, why can't we create a forum for teachers to post comments about students and parents?

I'd like to see the parents' reactions!

 

 

Spazzy : Teachers are not respected because of political football point scoring, in a nutshell.

The teaching profession is not one that stands up and fights battles.

Most teachers are female and see the job as a vocation, not a career.

So many governments have painted bullseyes on teachers' backs, handed everybody else in society a lash and said "Go for it, with our blessing!"

Interestingly though, as society and politicians blame teachers for falling competencies, all those countries we love to compare ourselves to have an agreed set of core beliefs in their education system that TRANSCENDS political parties.

Only those countries where politicians resist the urge to change things see great improvement over time, usually 7-20 years.

Our Aussie politicians like to ram through change after change after change, every four years or so - all in the name of politics.

Of course they never blame themselves for not leaving a system in place long enough to mature and bear fruit.

Much, much easier to just blame teachers.

Because it's not about education, but rather about being re-elected and for that you need a little whipping boy.

 

It will be interesting now that the Labor party has chosen Victoria to be the Education State. 

 

Edited Reader's Comments, Melbourne school writes to parents warning against online teacher abuse, Elissa Doherty, Herald Sun, 12 April 2016.

Victorian school principal researches workplace stress, then takes his own life.

Mark Thompson, principal of Eltham Primary School in Melbourne, took his own life in 2014.

He had been dealing with a parent complaint before his death.

 

 

Mr Thompson was co-author of research which found that -

* assistant principals are unwilling to step up into the role of principal

* stress and long working hours were key deterrents for staff

* the co-author - Loretta Piazza, principal of Meadow Glen Primary School - points to recent research showing school principals suffer more burnout and stress than the general population

 

Dr Piazza said that a feeling of lack of support from the Victorian Education Department was one of the most consistent findings in the research.

"What these assistants were saying was 'look, I've been in the job for a fair while,I've seen the hours my principal works,50,60 sometimes 70 hours a week -I'm not going to do it, so the more I've been in the job, the more I see and the more I'm disinclined to take on that role'," Dr Piazza said.

 

 

Stress, long hours associated with school principal roles deterring staff from stepping up, study finds, Stephanie Corsetti, AM, 7 January 2016

What other professional has people just turning up, demanding to speak to them?

Teachers are constantly talking about being professionals and most teachers are truly professional in their approach, however we are not paid as professionals.

Many trades people earn more than we do.

Obviously we are not in it for the money, it's for our students that we turn up and use our skills in the best possible way.

What other professional is seen just because a person turns up, without appointment, demanding to see us, even though we might be in a meeting, or on class or busy with the other 100 things we cope with in a day.

Why do we put up with such lack of respect and trust?

We do it because we believe in what we do, and for the children!

 

Bev, Reader's Comment, SCHOOLS IN CRISIS : One-in-four new teachers "burnt out", Home News, Brett Henebery, 9 December 2014

Why are students treated so much more kindly than teachers??

At my school (in Victoria), we teachers are expected to molly-coddle the students

 

- but we teachers are not molly-coddled at all, quite the opposite.

 

 

Teacher 1A, private email to website editor, 7 February 2016

Teacher : we are being buried under a mountain of paperwork.

I think that red tape is taking over the profession.

We are being buried under a mountain of paperwork that is deemed mandatory.

Teachers are losing time to prepare and are forced to take work home, so although the thought of work-life balance is fantastic, the reality is that something has to give.

As for the 12 weeks that no other profession gets, I challenge anyone in another profession to work as a teacher for one whole term, take on all the responsibilities and not be praying for holidays after 10 weeks.

We have the responsibility of shaping young minds and teaching our future, yet in the ranking of the professions we are at the bottom.

How does that work?

 

 

Cassie, Reader's Comment, SCHOOLS IN CRISIS : One-in-four new teachers 'burnt out', Home News, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 11 December 2014

Experienced teacher : the job is a hard one.

For most of my 17-year career I've worked 70-80 hours per week.

When engaged in further study, which in some systems can be compulsory, that went up to 80-90 hours per week.

During term times, evenings and weekends are not my own.

I would say that 50% of my holidays are spent in school.

The only holiday that's a real break as such is the summer holiday.

I am far from alone in working like this.

There's also a wealth of evidence that shows the disparity between primary and secondary, with primary teachers working significantly longer than secondary.

(But no matter the level, the job is a hard one!)

In the last 17 years I've encountered great ignorance from people who think that teaching is cushy, that we start at 9 and finish at 3.30 ... and then there are those holidays.

Well yes, the holidays are good but you need them to catch up and recover.

 

 

JC, Reader's Comment, SCHOOLS IN CRISIS : One-in-four new teachers 'burnt out', Home News, Brett Henebery, The Educator, 14 December 2014

You can't get a transfer out of your school if the principal is a bully.

Like many colleagues, I was BULLIED out of my job in my early 50s.

Pay was never the issue for me, it was not being able to transfer out of my school when I was being bullied.

 

 

I was ordered to disobey government policy -

I was ordered to pass students on 10% submitted work.

I had to use sick days to attend training / in-service.

I had to pay for my own first aid qualifications which we need as teachers, etc.etc.

- and then I was blasted by the Victorian Education Department for complaining to them.

 

 

There are many teachers in my position in Victoria.

Thank you, Victorian Education Department.

 

 

Ange Kenos, (Editor's note : I have combined two of Ange's comments), Reader's Comment, Should I stay or should I go? The dilemma for unemployed teachers, The Conversation, 7 January, 2016 

Victorian teacher threatened with axe.

A male student at a Victorian school became upset after an incident.

He left the school to get an axe.

He then returned to the school with an axe and allegedly took a swing at a teacher.

Another student bravely  stepped behind the angry boy, restraining him until he could be disarmed.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Victorian school principal kicked and punched by male student.

A Victorian student "went ballistic" after a discussion with the school principal.

He destroyed the general office area and kicked and punched the female principal.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Female Victorian teacher allegedly punched in the jaw by male student.

A Victorian teacher was taken to hospital after being assaulted by a male student.

The student allegedly punched the female teacher in the jaw.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Female Victorian teacher assaulted with hockey stick.

A male year 4 student allegedly assaulted a female teacher with a hockey stick.

Two year 3 students also allegedly attempted to assault the same female teacher.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Victorian prep student stabs and bites his teachers.

A male prep student became aggressive and used a bamboo skewer to stab his teacher in the torso.

He then bit another teacher on the arm.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Year 3 student threatens his Victorian teacher with an axe.

A male year 3 student brought an axe to his Victorian school and made threats to harm a female teacher.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Year 3 Victorian student removed by police after trashing a classroom.

Police were called in to remove one "violent and aggressive" year 3 Victorian schoolboy after he "trashed" a classroom and threw around 60 "locker tubs" in the locker area.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Male year 6 student allegedly assaults Victorian principal and another school staff member.

A male year 6 Victorian student trashed the school principal's office.

The police were called.

They were unable to talk the student down from a bookcase.

The police left.

The next day the same student allegedly assaulted the principal and another staff member.

 

Police called to Victorian schools more than 800 times as students attack teachers, Peter Mickelburough, Sunday Herald Sun, 5 December 2015

Melbourne Teacher : I am burnt out and completely disheartened.

I'm currently trying to figure out how to transition out of education.

Not because of the comparatively low pay or the excessive workload (both of which I knew I was getting into.

It's not even the pure exhaustion of dealing with children every day.

I'm sick to death of the staff room politics.

My Vice Principal routinely withholds critical information from me, preventing me from doing my job to the best of my ability.

She undermines me in front of other staff.

When she found out I needed surgery, she re-arranged key meetings for the day of my surgery.

I lodged a complaint about her behaviour, and got told "Maybe you need to be clearer that you find this behaviour upsetting".

I adore the children I work with.

Even on their worst days, they'll manage to do something to bring a smile to my face.

But I am sick to death of my students being mature mature than the adults I work with.

I am burnt out and completely disheartened with the entire school system.

And it is the senior school staff that have led to me feeling like this.

Classroom teachers are not always the best fit to rise to leadership roles.

They need more screening and more training.

Otherwise schools just rot from the inside out.

 

 

Bella of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Why are so many teachers fleeing the classroom? Brooke Lumsden, news.com.au  8 October 2015

Ex-teacher : I have moved on. Life's good.

I just quit my teaching job this year.

Idiot boss, idiot ideas, no thanks.

Nothing is ever good enough, even when students are getting results.

I changed industries and now earn more money and have less stress.

And I don't have to be an expert on absolutely everything.

Life's good.

 

 

Moved on of Melb, Reader's Comment, Why are so many teachers fleeing the classroom? Brooke Lumsden, news.com.au, 8 October 2015

Victorian classroom teacher : people do not understand how hard teachers work.

I am a teacher and this is what I did just today -

3:30-3:45 - Meeting with parent about individual education plan.

3:45-5:10 - Staff Meeting : going over checklist about how schools provide 'inclusive practice' in case the school gets sued.

5:10- 5:30 - Reading and correcting student recounts of holidays, identifying goals and showing evidence of learning through writing growth checklists.

5:30-6:30 - Researching NEW and exciting lessons that engage a generation that loses interest in things fast.

We need lessons that leave students amazed.

That takes time, lots of time. 

Hearing that people still believe that teachers don't have anything to do after school and leave at 3:30 is the reason why people leave the profession.

We also get abused by students, to then ring parents for support, to then get screamed at by the parents who blame the school for their child's behaviour.

Respect teachers and they will stay!

 

 

Give teachers some respect and they will stay! Chris of Ballarat, Why are so many teachers fleeing the classroom?, Brooke Lumsden, news.com.au , 8 October 2015

There is no shortage of maths and science teachers in Victoria.

I am a teacher and many highly qualified language, maths and science teachers cannot find permanent employment in Victorian schools.

There is no shortage of able candidates; just not enough jobs.

 

 

Reader's Comment, Visa scheme fails to ease shortage of maths, science and language teachers, Kate Nancarrow, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 2015

How to get a teaching job in Victoria - get experience and be prepared to travel.

I graduated with a Dip. Ed back in 2010 with decent marks and good references from my placements.

At the end of 2010 I was very picky and didn't apply for anything more than half an hour from where I lived.

I only applied for a handful of positions, got two interviews and no job offers.

At the beginning of 2011 I decided to try going further and within weeks I got a maternity leave position in the western suburbs, nearly an hour from my house - it was the first job I applied for and I later found out that I was the only applicant for the job.

I worked at that school for two years before securing a permanent position at my current school, also in the western suburbs.

When we talk about education graduates job-hunting there are two very important factors to consider - one is location, and the other is experience.

There may be thousands of graduates in Melbourne desperate for a teaching position, but unless any of them are desperate enough to move away from the city or the inner suburbs then there'll still be a teacher shortage.

Many are tempted to take on a CRT role and wait for a chance at something close to home rather than travel somewhere a bit further away.

The second factor, experience, is why local graduates lose out to migrant teachers.

If you can choose between a foreigner with ten years' teaching experience or a local with no teaching experience - and they are both paid the same salary, as the foreigner hasn't been in the Victorian education system before and thus starts at the bottom and works their way up - the choice is obvious.

 

 

Experience or a willingness to travel make a big difference, Reader's comment, Visa scheme fails to ease shortage of maths, science and language teachers, Kate Nancarrow, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 2015

The 2004 EBA worsened Victorian teachers' working conditions.

The universities are taking too many low-ATAR people into teacher training, so schools are choosing what they see as the best from a huge pool.

It would help if the Australian Education Union (AEU), by which I mean the rank and file membership of the AEU, fought for the return of the decent teaching conditions of 30 years ago.

We would have 2,578 more secondary teachers employed if we still had the 1981 pupil-teacher ratio 0f 10.9:1.

I remember the 2004 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), which worsened working conditions but still won the support of more than 80 per cent of teachers in the ballot.

The equity funding announced in September 2015 by the Victorian government could employ more than 1 000 extra teachers (though schools do not have to use it all in that way).

This is obviously an opening for more teachers to be employed, but it will not be enough for every graduate.

Nor should it be, as schools are not make-work schemes.

The universities have to cut their teacher-training enrolments, which will automatically lift the ATAR cut-off.

 

Chris C, Reader's Comment, Visa scheme fails to ease shortage of maths, science and language teachers, Kate Nancarrow, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October 2015

There are many reasons for the drop in applications for education degrees.

The drop in applications for education degrees may have more important causes than a perception that teachers are losing status in the public eye (Fear 'daggy' tag turning off student teachers, 20 March, The Australian).

What about the appalling over-bureaucratisation of education systems that has occurred in the past few decades?

Teachers around the nation are furious at the amount of unnecessary clerical work and form-filling that they are now required to engage in, which makes their occupation un-pleasantly stressful.

Then there is the shift from full-time employment, with security of tenure, to short-term contracts that leave teachers anxious about their financial future - another source of unnecessary psychological pressure.

And what about the relative lack of protection of teachers in schools with a high percentage of unco-operative and aggressive students?

Some significant changes are needed to make a teaching career attractive again.

 

 

Nigel Jackson, Belgrave, Vic, Letter to the Editor, The Australian March 21 2015

Ex-teacher (seems to be Victorian) : teachers have very poor working conditions.

I studied to become a teacher, but the reality of the profession turned me off and I now work in a non-teaching role, getting paid more for less stress and a proper desk.

Not only is it extremely difficult to find a job (the teacher 'shortage' is a complete myth peddled by universities and other biased parties), but when you actually get a job -

 * you have no idea whether you'll be there in six months,

 * you work at a cramped desk with other teachers yammering away right next to you,

 * you have little time to prepare lessons and mark,

 * you can't even take time for lunch,

 * students are badly behaved

 * and people in Australia actually look down on you for being a teacher.

Such is our uncultured and ignorant approach to education and educators here in Australia.

In Asia teachers are treated as respected professionals and as fundamental parts of society.

Why would anybody with ability choose to become a teacher here?

 

 

Danielle, ex-teacher, Reader's Comment, Two thirds of new teachers on contracts , Jewel Topsfield, The Age, 5 August 2014

Short-term contract teacher's husband : My wife has about had enough.

My wife is one of these short-term contract Victorian teachers.

She's about had enough and is now looking at changing careers.

All that study down the drain but we cannot keep living our lives with this much uncertainty year to year.

 

 

James, Victorian short-term contract teacher's husband, Reader's Comment, Two-thirds of new teachers on contracts , Jewel Topsfield, The Age, 5 August 2014

Victorian teacher : everything is done to ensure that bullied teachers do not get justice.

Most bullying in teaching occurs between adults, particularly principal to teacher, and teacher(s) to teacher.

Considerable Australian research shows endemic adult bullying in our child and adult education sectors, e.g. Duncan and Riley, Uni of New England.

The state government tenaciously fights teachers who report such bullying or who are injured by it.

The Australian Education Union is curiously meek on this.

I know a seriously bullied teacher who was refused any legal help by the AEU, although legal support is a standard condition of membership.

The AEU's designated law firm actually acted for the employer AGAINST this teacher to unfairly dismiss them, cloaking it as a 'redundancy'.

There goes the 'reward' for formally reporting bullying and s-xual harassment!

That teacher was subject to multiple, extreme stressors, with health totally destroyed, driven to breakdown, then sacked.

Betrayals do not come much bigger.

So, no surprises that there are no big news features on such abuse, as commonplace as staffroom bullying is.

It's just that everything possible is done by the government and all its agencies to ensure that such teachers do not get to first base if they seek justice.

That includes 'bullying investigations' by state-paid 'private detectives' with no qualifications, who treat the victim as the guilty party in interrogations and compile tomes of paperwork to thwart any court case with dozens of untrue statements.

In other words, many bushfires are lit around the victim until they give up and/or totally break down beyond any ability to fight the callous, mad duplicity of this system.

If only investigative journalists would get onto the stories behind teachers' formal bullying claims.

 

Teacher, Reader's Comment, Jan Wositzky : I sympathise with the teacher awarded compensation last week, The Age, 11 September 2014

I agree with the teacher above.

The teacher above is right.

The relationship between teachers is often as dysfunctional and fractured as that between teachers and students.

Principles of merit and equity are not enforced in most schools.

Some teachers get a free ride and some others seem to get away with murder.

In my view the AEU is a fundamentally worthless organisation that promotes a largely fictitious account of teacher collegiality, while covering up issues such as those described by the teacher above.

Not to mention that the AEU opposes performance pay yet sells out teachers at every pay negotiation.

The VIT is similarly useless in addressing these issues.

 

 

Steve , Readers Comment, Jan Wositzky : I sympathise with the teacher awarded compensation last week, The Age, 11 September 2014

Experienced teacher : In reality, it's dog-eat-dog for teachers in most schools.

The Peter Doulis verdict was less about a teacher having to deal with low-achieving miscreant students and more about the school culture and pecking order that fobbed all of these classes off onto one person.

Having taught in schools for years, I know this story well.

Teaching likes to present itself as a collaborative and collegiate profession, holding hands and singing Kumbaya together.

In reality it's dog-eat-dog for teachers in most schools.

There are always teachers who whine and clamour and crawl to get their preferred subjects, the best classes and the easiest loads.

And there's always people on the outer - like Mr Doulis - who end up teaching all the illiterates, the miscreants and the social dregs.

I'm actually in favour of performance pay for teachers because I'm heartily sick of people who show no interest and take no responsibility for teaching the kids who need it most.

Steve, Reader's Comment, Jan Wositzky : I sympathise with the teacher awarded compensation last week , The Age, 11 September 2014

Education departments and politicians don't care about teacher welfare.

Students act up because they can.

When education departments and politicians actually care about teacher welfare things may change.

When I taught I was an absolute b-st-rd to students in order to maintain control (guess who got all the degenerates?) - but all I did was burn myself out.

I work in mining now and it is much easier.

Those who graduated with me and are still teaching think it is the pits.

Over 50% of us have changed jobs since we graduated.

The system needs to change.

 

Ned Kelly, Reader's Comment, Jan Wositzky : I sympathise with the teacher awarded compensation last week, The Age, 11 September 2014

Teacher's husband :  I have no doubt the Werribee teacher deserved his 1.2 million dollars.

Unless you've worked as a teacher or have a close friend / relative who is a teacher telling you about their direct experiences, you've got absolutely no idea what it is like.

Preconceived notions that you could handle it, you'd do it this way or that way and essentially would be far better at teaching - these are just preconceived notions.

My wife's a teacher and the stories I hear are never experienced in business.

I have no doubt the poor Werribee sod who was awarded the 1.2 million dollars deserved every penny.

Schools should have the power to rid themselves of rotten apples.

 

Hit the Nail, Melbourne, Reader's comment : Jan Wositzky : I sympathise with the teacher awarded compensation last week, The Age, 11 September 2014.

Ex-teacher : police were often called to my school - not for the kids, for the feral parents.

I had better be careful with names but I spent time teaching (if that is what you call it) in a notorious school in Victoria, Australia.

It was nothing more than a joke.

A school that was less than seven years old, architecturally designed and equipped for 21st century learning.

A school where money was not really an issue.

The school population was from middle class suburban multiracial families.

It was a zoo.

And the worst thing about it - none of the senior managers gave a toss.

It was "follow government protocol, mollycoddle the kids, appease the parents and don't bring any attention on the school".

The principal was recruited as a specialist from overseas.

He had been involved in the design and building of the facility.

And seven years on, had lost complete control.

It was an unsafe working environment.

Senior managers provided little support to teachers on issues with challenging students.

Police were often called to the school - not for the kids, for the feral parents.

Marty Hoare, https://www.facebook.com/abcnews.au/posts/10153230056469988

Mother of Carranballac College teacher : my son had a breakdown.

My son was given a difficult class during his first year of teaching at Carranballac College.

He received no support from staff or headmaster.

They did not even have a curriculum for the classes.

He had a breakdown and will never teach again.

 

https://facebook.com/abcnews.au/posts/10153230056469988

 

Think this is an unfair comment?

Contact the webmaster to respond to this allegation : dealingwiththemob@badapplebullies.com

I taught for a year and then gave it away.

I'm a trained teacher with an excellent ATAR.

 
After a year in the system, I gave it away.
 
The hours are awful, the homework is endless, the government requirements are onerous.
 
I work elsewhere in the public service now with far better conditions.
 
It's clear to me why most graduates would steer well away from the profession.

 

Scotty of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Teacher entry ranking tumbles, Benjamin Preiss and Craig Butt, 18 January 2013 Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/data-point/teacher-entry-ranking-tumbles-20130117-2cwb5.html#ixzz2j281DDZI

Secondary teaching in a government school is an unattractive career.


I completed a 3 year Commerce / Business degree at Monash Clayton (ATAR 90+) and then a 1 year teaching diploma, before commencing a career in secondary teaching.
 
Employment instability, low wage rates and undisciplined students make secondary teaching at government schools unattractive to many well educated people.

 
 
Neil of Melbourne, Reader's comment, Teacher entry ranking tumbles, Benjamin Preiss and Craig Butt, 18 January 2013 Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/data-point/teacher-entry-ranking-tumbles-20130117-2cwb5.html#ixzz2j281DDZI
 

Try teaching 100+ recalcitrant teenagers in one day - and then the next and the next.

 
Try teaching 100+ recalcitrant teenagers in one day - and then the next and the next - and take their work home to mark at night.
 
Young teachers often burn out and leave.
 
Talk to them about why.
 
 

Spitting Mr Chips, of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Teacher entry ranking tumbles, Benjamin Preiss and Craig Butt, 18 January 2013 Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/data-point/teacher-entry-ranking-tumbles-20130117-2cwb5.html#ixzz2j281DDZI

Mooroopna Secondary College : student holds a replica gun to teacher's head.

On March 4, 2009, Mooroopna Secondary College teacher Suzanne May Tyson, 54, was teaching in the library when then 16-year-old student Adam Tyler Dorsett held a replica gun to her head in close proximity.

Ms Tyson believed the $2 plastic gun pointed at her was real.

Adam Dorsett pulled the trigger.

After pulling the trigger, Mr Dorset fled from the library.

But then he returned and verbally threatened the terrified teacher.

 

Suzanne Tyson allegedly suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression as a result of the incident, and has been unable to return to work.

She claims that the incident rendered her incapable of any employment, perhaps indefinitely.

 

Ms Tyson had been employed as a full-time leading teacher at the central Victorian school since 1992.

She earned $72,000 a year.

Ms Tyson is claiming loss of earnings - either with the school or in alternative full-time employment - and superannuation.

 

She claims the school was negligent or breached the duty of care owed to her by failing to provide a safe workplace, adequate security or responding sufficiently to the incident.

 

Adam Dorsett, now 19, was unaware of the legal proceedings when approached by the Herald Sun on 17 February 2013.

The Shepparton labourer said it was a stupid prank involving a toy gun that went wrong.

"I'm really sorry for what I did - I was 16 and stupid," Mr Dorsett said.

"I thought it was a prank, just a funny joke."

He said he didn't want to talk about the incident in further detail because he did not want to get himself in trouble.

It is believed Mr Dorsett was expelled from the school following the incident.

 

The case will be heard by a judge in the Victorian Supreme Court.

 

Teacher sues Education Department, ex-pupil over toy gun prank, Emily Portelli, Katie Bice, The Herald Sun, 18 February 2013 :      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/teacher-sues-education-department-ex-pupil-over-toy-gun-prank/story-fnat79vb-1226579818092

Victorian teacher : Our working conditions and wages have declined over the past four decades.

I began teaching in 1974 in a Housing Commission area of Melbourne.

It was in West Heidelberg - the area I was first brought up in, in fact.

I was the timetabler of that disadvantaged school from 1976 to 1980.

Its teachers were paid much more, relatively speaking, than today’s are.

Its classes typically had fewer than 25 students.

The average teaching load was 15 hours 29 minutes in 1979 – well below the 20-hour maximum imposed by the use of retrospective legislation in 1992.

The school was sufficiently staffed to employ 13 per cent of its teachers in literacy and numeracy programs.

The Commonwealth’s Disadvantaged Schools Programme provided teacher aides and materials.

Its staffing, conditions and approaches to teaching produced a measurable improvement in students’ achievement.

It was part of a system.

It had a strong teacher union branch, a positive factor in education.

It had principals who accepted the professional judgement of their teachers and who were capable of working with them, who did not need the bully’s power to fire to be effective leaders.

It did not have to waste its energy on mission statements, charters, strategic plans, local selection of staff, performance pay, onerous and pointless accountability measures or box and whisper graphs.

It got on with its job of teaching.

If the average Victorian secondary school were as well staffed today as it was in 1979, it would have another five teachers, sufficient to return the teaching load limits stolen in 1992 and to make a difference to student learning.

There were badly behaved students, but I got about 90 per cent of parents turn up for parent-teacher interviews, compared with less than half in my last school, 30 years later.

I have exact records for my eighth year (at my second school), 1981: in year 7, 20 out of 28 children had their parents attend the interviews; in year 9, 18 out of 21; in year 10, 22 out of 27; in year 11, 20 out of 25; in year 12, 17 out of 25. (That was the only year I had a whole year with two classes over 25 students.)

However, in year 8 in second semester in 2003 (in my last school), four out of 19 children had their parents attend interviews; for year 10, one out of 22; for year 11, four out of 22.

For first semester, the figures were 18 out of 22 (a rare exception to the rule), six out of 21 and five out of 22.

If we want better teachers and better results, we need to restore the pay and conditions that applied decades ago.

 


The issue is what we as a society have to do to ensure that we get the best teachers we reasonably can.

Many teachers joined the profession when the pay was much better than now and they have witnessed a long-term decline.

Teachers are worse paid in real terms than they were four decades ago.

In 1974, the year I began teaching, a Victorian teacher reached the top of the scale after seven year and was paid $78,523 in December 2012 dollars.

A teacher with seven years experience is paid $71,870 today.

That is a real pay cut of $6,653.

Real average weekly earnings have increased by more than 50 per cent in that time.

Teachers had the same number of weeks off then as they do now.

And older teachers know that their working conditions were also better in the 1970s and the 1980s than they are now, for their working conditions have declined over the years.

Teachers at all levels are worse paid in relative terms than they were four decades ago.

 

Chris Curtis, Reader's Comment, Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone, Jane Caro, The Drum, ABC News, 11 March 2013 : http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4565396.html

If you want to attract good teachers the profession must be attractive - not just a last resort.

As an ex-teacher I know why good teachers quit.

Too many hours and not enough money.

To attract good quality teachers the profession must be attractive, not a last resort.

I loved teaching for over 20 years but decided I couldn't do it for another 15 years.

Now in the corporate world I have no corrections, no reports, no parent teacher nights and a much higher income.

As a frequent supervisor of student teachers, I did notice after the Kennett years that the quality of student teachers was often unsatisfactory.

'If you pay peanuts you get monkeys'

 

Margaret Ludowyk, Reader's Comment, Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone, Jane Caro, The Drum, ABC News, 12 March 2013 : http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4565396.html

Victorian teacher : I don't even bother to look for teaching work any more.

I left a secure job eight years ago, after graduating with a Bachelor of Education, and being registered as a Victorian Teacher (prep to year 10).

I have only ever been able to obtain relief teaching, as applications in the first year did not result in securing ongoing employment or even contracts.

It has been the same every year since, where there has been such long periods of no employment in teaching (schools shut down in December and often don't employ relief teacher's until the second semester), that I have had no choice but to take up contracts in administration work.

My CV has been totally chequered with short term contracts ever since I graduated (prior to that I was in jobs for 3 years, and 5 years and 9 years), so it turned out to be an extremely bad career move.

Although I have current registration I don't even bother to look for teaching work any more.

The irony of it all is that when I did teach, I mostly got great feedback from the schools and agency (and the children liked me), but it just did not translate to secure employment.

 

 

CW of Melbourne, Reader's Comment 5 of 25, Millions wasted training teachers, Justine Ferrari, The Australian, 25 March 2013   http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/millions-wasted-training-teachers/story-fn59nlz9-1226605045315

Josephine Greensill, Victorian teacher, serves almost two and a half years in jail after false allegations.

Josephine Greensill, a primary school teacher, was jailed in 2010 for s-x offences allegedly committed in 1979 against two 8-year-old boys.
 

Ms Greensill was charged after the boys, now aged 41 and 42, made police statements in 2007.

Judge Gabriele Cannon in the County Court jailed Ms Greensill for five years, with a minimum of two years and eight months to be served.

 
Ms Greensill served almost 2½ years in jail.
 
 
Victoria's highest court has now quashed her convictions, acquitted her and set her free.

Her release followed allegations that her accusers had colluded against her.

Ms Greensill, 61, said she wept after her acquittal and was ''too scared'' to believe her ''horrendous experience'' was over.

''I can't accept in my mind that it's over and I'm really home and I don't have to go back,'' the mother of five said.

''It hasn't sunk in yet."

''It's very hard being in there [prison] when you're not guilty.''

Her sister Annette Toohey also relived the ''hell'' after the verdict, the tears and an anxiety that former students would think that Ms Greensill was a paedophile.

Ms Greensill's solicitor was Rob Stary.

Her appeal barrister was Lachlan Carter.

Last month, Mr Carter argued that the convictions were unsafe for reasons that included a ''high risk'' of collusion between the men that had ''contaminated'' the evidence.

He said a detective, against accepted practice, had facilitated contact between the boys.

Mr Carter said one of the men had a motive to implicate Ms Greensill for money, because he knew she had received a payout for her husband's death.

Mr Carter revealed that a week after Ms Greensill's sentence, a solicitor arranged an appointment that later led to a $65,000 compensation payment to the man.

 

Jailed teacher cleared of abuse, Steve Butcher, The Age, 10 December 2012 :  http://www.theage.com.au/national/jailed-teacher-cleared-of-abuse-20121209-2b3k6.html

Victorian Secondary School teacher with 33 years of experience : submission 284 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

Submission 284 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying is by a veteran (33 years of experience) Victorian Secondary School teacher : C.C (PDF 937KB)

Victoria had performance bonuses for teachers in the 1990's.

Teachers had to sign a plan, and the principal would reward them for reaching their goals.

Teacher 284 refused to sign "such an unprofessional scheme" and so her Leading Teacher position was abolished.

Teacher 284 applied for and won a position at a new school.

 

This new school had seven principals during the next two and a half years.

 

In 2001 Principal A said that no teacher would have to teach more than 20 48-min periods a week.

Teacher 284 demonstrated that it was mathematically impossible to staff the school in this manner.

"My unarguable facts were ignored".

Under a new Principal B, the staff agreed to teach 21 48-min periods a week.

And so Teacher 284 worked through the holidays, trying to sort out the problems with the timetable.

Then, under another new Principal C, she was dismissed from her position as timetabler.

 

She took Acting Principal C to the Merit Protection Board.

An Australian Education Union representative assisted her at the hearing.

Another AEU representative helped Acting Principal C.

Teacher 284's grievance was upheld.

But the Acting Principal refused to re-instate her.

So Teacher 284 had to make another Grievance.

Teacher 284 had huge support from the staff.

 

Teacher 284 says we need intelligent, decent people in leadership positions in our schools.

Victorian teacher : submission 141 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

A Victorian teacher made submission 141 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying : K.C (PDF 623KB)

The teacher has 25 years of teaching experience.

 

The teacher alleges -

He had spent 18 months trying to survive in a toxic, bullying working environment in the Victorian State Education system.

The Department of Education had failed to deal appropriately with workplace bullying that he and his colleagues had experienced.

 

In 2010 a new principal was appointed to their small, rural P-12 college.

The principal told the school council that he wished to rid the school of all "old and part-time" staff.

The principal engaged in verbal abuse, intimidation, verbal and written threats, etc.

The AEU sub-branch made a formal complaint against the principal.

140 pages of documentation were sent to the Regional Office.

The investigation process was "highly traumatic".

7 out of 10 of the complaints were found to be "unsubstantiated".

the teacher observes that having the Education Department investigate itself is akin to asking BP to investigate leaks in their own oil wells.

In the end, the teachers found that there was no-one listening, that they were disbelived and that the region was supporting and condoning the principal's behaviour.

The Victorian Education Department have a Duty of Care to ensure that the school is a safe workplace, but seem to be unwilling or unable to act to protect their employees.

The teachers feel the Victorian Education Department is simply not interested in their welfare.

The culture of bullying is institutionalised.

They have been told by the Acting Regional Director, "If you don't like it, leave!"

 

Of the ten teachers who originally made a formal complaint to the Regional Office -

One has resigned.

Two have taken 12 months leave without pay.

One is on sick leave.

Four are currently receiving medical treatment and counselling for anxiety and depression.

All are actively seeking employment elsewhere.

 

Professor Gronski supports greater autonomy for principals. Unfortunately this assumes that all principals are good and just people.

Victorian adult education teacher : submission 137 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.

A Victorian adult education teacher has made submission 137 to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Bullying : 

 

B.C (PDF 1,536KB) 

137.1 Supplementary Submission B.C (PDF 956KB) 

137.2 Supplementary Submission B.C (PDF 964KB)

 

This is a really well-written submission.

If you are a teacher in Victoria and you are being bullied at work, you need to read this submission.

 

The Victorian teacher writes -

There is a need for a fully independent authority to investigate and resolve workplace bullying complaints.

The present model is wasting teachers' time, their livelihoods, their work record, the value of their qualifications, their health, their family's well-being and cohesion, their money

- and even their life.

It does not provide justice.

All sources fail to provide help when a teacher is bullied.

Reporting bullying is tantmount to lighting a fuse to your own destruction.

"Whatever it takes" seems to be the guiding principle, not ethics.

A bullied teacher is hit by a tsunami of false, never previously raised allegations as the employer tries to justify bullying.

The teacher is framed.

The perpetrators are emboldened.

And bullying spreads.

Science teacher, Ringwood : Teaching is stressful enough without lying awake, not knowing whether you will have a job in a few months' time, depite your best efforts as a new and inexperienced teacher.

The short term contracts are what turn most people away from teaching.
 
It's a crazy situation that makes it impossible for new teachers to spend half their year re-applying for their own jobs rather than teach.
 
Teaching is stressful enough without lying awake, not knowing whether you will have a job in a few months' time, despite your best efforts as a new and inexperienced teacher.
 
It takes years to get good at it.

 
Science Teacher of Ringwood, Reader's Comment, Baillieu plan to get rid of bad teachers, Jewel Topsfield, The Age, 21 June 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/baillieu-plan-to-get-rid-of-bad-teachers-20120620-20oky.html


Mentone teacher : did I mention the corrections, the tedious meetings, having your car vandalised, doing yard duty in the rain or 40 degree heat ... and the shouting and threatening parents?

Newly qualified teachers may get a contract for three or six months and not have any holiday pay at all.

During their contract they have apply with pages of references and documentation for other schools with differing criteria for the equivalent job.

The students know the contract teachers are there for the short term and don't give a d-mn for them compared to their regular teachers.

For History a Year 8 class may have had three or four different teachers since they started secondary school.

 

Add in the corrections done at home without any overtime,

the tedious meetings for whole of staff, year levels, curriculum, sports,

plus the frustration of having your car vandalised in the car park

and doing yard duty in the rain or 40 degree heat whilst brokering a deal between warring kids over who gets to use the tennis courts today

....... did I mention the difficult shouting and threatening parents?

 

Did I mention that you have to have a professional development plan in triplicate?

Of course teachers some times have classes in areas that they are qualified to teach and enjoy teaching.

 

David Baylis of Mentone,Reader's Comment, Baillieu plan to get rid of bad teachers, Jewel Topsfield, The Age, 21 June 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/baillieu-plan-to-get-rid-of-bad-teachers-20120620-20oky.html

Victorian teacher : I had no work in 2011.

I studied as a mature aged student to gain an Arts degree and then completed my Graduate Diploma of Education.

I had short term contracts.

The first one was for one term and then the school advertised for the second semester and I was successful in gaining the position.

At the end of the year, they advertised for two positions for English / Humanities.

There were four of us on contracts, but two had made the decision to move on - one because she had been on contract for five years and the other to travel.

I didn't get either of the positions.

The successful applicant decided not to take up the job and the position was offered to someone else.

To say I was gutted is an understatement.

I had three terms of being told what a good job I was doing.

The students were achieving, we were getting on like a house on fire and I absolutely loved my job.

My students, when they found out, were most upset.


2011, I had nothing.

 

I am not in a position to travel more than about an hour for work.

If I cannot secure a position, either via contract or as a casual, by the time the VIT renewal is due, I won't be bothering.

I'll attempt to find an office job, like I used to have before.


By the way, what exactly do we pay all that money to VIT for?

What a jip!

 

Unemployed teacher,  Reader's Comment, No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html

Victorian contract teacher : I can't commit to a car loan, never mind a home mortgage.

''I'm disappointed in the system … I can't commit to a car loan, never mind a mortgage, as I don't know if I will have a job in January,'' one Victorian contract teacher said.

''Right now, I think working a secure job for minimum wage is more preferable to working in education and going from contract to contract with periods of unemployment in between contracts.''

 

No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html

Teaching is not that great and that is why so many teachers quit.

Only mental midgets ever talk about teachers getting great pay and long holidays.
Getting to work at 7.30 - 8 am is common.

Leaving up to 6 pm is average for many.

Then add meetings at school or with regions, with other schools or after hours PD.

Add extra courses and degrees you do to be better prepared for the job but for no extra benefit from your employer.

Add staying up often to midnight, correcting and or preparing lessons.

Add the kids and their parents who do need your help out of hours.

Add the extra curricular activities which, at some schools, are expected or else no renewal of contract.

Add the bullying which Ms Bluett conveniently ignores as many a union member is guilty.

The job is not that great and that is why so many teachers quit for less paying jobs and more 'at work' hours.

For me, improve conditions, heating and air con.

More computers and far better access.

More training time for teachers.

More prep time away from class for primary teachers who have the worst conditions of any sector.

I no longer teach.

I prefer to work in a supermarket despite being over qualified.

 

Amanda Lehman of Sandringham, Reader's Comment, No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html

Melbourne teacher : teachers who encourage critical thinking are less likely to get permanent work.

Teaching is an insane amount of work.
 
But I like being horrifically busy compared to pretending to be busy (previous work in the private sector).
 
The real tragedy is that really good teachers - those who are excellent in the classroom - are focused on their students rather than shameless self-promotion.
 
 
Teachers who inspire critical thinking often question administration decisions or a lack of adherence to transparent processes.
 
Therefore the wrong people get the permanent jobs while the really excellent teachers languish on contracts for years and years.
 
The real tragedy is that the more years you accumulate, the more undesirable you are.
 
 
In my experience it's not new teachers who have trouble getting a job, but teachers who've been in the job for several years, or more, and want to change.
 
It's a shameful disincentive to personal growth and rejuvenation.
 
 
 
Smog of Smelbourne,  Reader's Comment, No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html

Victorian teacher : keeping teachers on contracts for years is all about cutting costs, not about delivering great education.

I've just completed my sixth year of teaching.
 
Still on a contract for next year.
 
But at least this time I knew a couple of months before the end of the last teaching year what I'll be doing this year.
 
That definitely made me a better teacher for those two months.
 
Didn't have to spend a big chunk of my time every day searching job vacancies and writing responses to generic selection criteria that have nothing to do with the specific needs of schools or vacancies.
 
I was actually able to concentrate on teaching and preparing for the following year.
 
It's an appalling process, all about cutting costs, not delivering great education.
 
 
HiLo, Reader's Comment, No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html
 

Melbourne teacher : there is no hope of my partner and I ever being able to afford to buy a house on a contract teacher's wage.

I work in a Melbourne primary school on a contract.
 
I'm paid $55K a year pro rata.
 
This is the same level of pay I could get working as a secretary without any qualifications.
 
I have a $25K HECS debt and couldn't work for the 4 years it took to get my degree.
 
On this wage I support my partner and two young children.
 
There is no hope of us ever being able to afford to buy a house on a teacher's wage.
 
During term I am at school from 7:30am until 5:00pm and then I do another 1-2 hours work at home each day.
 
During report writing time I work virtually around the clock!
 
Yes, I get long holidays - but these are unpaid.
 
Applying for new contracts takes days of hard work and contract positions advertised have an incumbent so this work is largely wasted.
 
My teacher friends and I are all discouraged, disheartened and frustrated by the contract system and most of us are considering moving to another field becuase of the lack of job security.
 
The government abuses the fact we love our jobs and the children in our care by offering terrible pay and conditions which they know we must accept if we want to continue to offer hope for childrens future.
 
 
Contracted, Reader's Comment, No job security for new teachers, Jewel Topsfield and Craig But, The Age, 4 January, 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/no-job-security-for-new-teachers-20120103-1pjoy.html

Experienced Victorian teacher : Many of my cohort during the 90's gave up teaching and moved into other careers.

I am an experienced primary teacher.

About 10 years ago I went overseas to work as I could not get a foot in the door of government primary schools.

I had always heard that male teachers were sought after within primary schools.

I could receive casual work but discovered that finding a permanent position was impossible.

I have gained considerable experience working in South East Asia teaching early years classes.

Now back in Melbourne, I applied for a part time position at a primary school.

174 teachers applied.

My experience, excellent references, and my gender could not get me even to interview stage .

I followed this through to discover that the school decided to only interview teachers with a Phd, or masters.

Still, I constantly hear that male teachers are sought after.

In the early months of the Kennett years I was a young teacher getting loads of casual work and awaiting permanency.

The week after the Kennett government retrenched thousands of teachers and made them the casual pool, I received an large envelope in the mail stating my and other existing casuals services would no longer be required.

Ever since then, teaching in Victoria has been downgraded dramatically.

Many of my cohort during the 90's gave up and moved into other careers.

Many were male teachers.

I stuck it out and had to build my career overseas.

I look at the present climate of teaching in Victoria and the still desperate need for male teachers for primary schools.

I can't be bothered and think I shall head overseas again.

 

Gordie of Melbourne, Reader's Comment , Teachers seeing no future in state system, Jewel Topsfield and Bianca Hall, The Age, 30 May 2012 : http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/teachers-seeing-no-future-in-state-system-20120529-1zhfz.html

Melbourne teacher : I'm an award-winning graduate teacher from a sandstone uni, in the top couple of percent, and I'm leaving.

We've known for years that roughly a third of teaching graduates will leave the 'profession' in the first five years.

When I was studying my Dip Ed I was sure my commitment to quality education and my solid work ethic would mean I was one of the stayers.

Now, after less than 4 years teaching, I'm actively looking to get out permanently.

I can't get an ongoing position, I have no job security, contracts are designed so that I have no income over the holidays, I don't teach the subjects I want to, I can't see an end to the unpaid overtime, I take work home every night, in the 'holidays', and the admin load is ridiculous.

It's an unreasonable occupation.

There's been a lot of talk about attracting higher performing graduates to teaching, but that's not going to happen while the conditions of the job are so dismal.

I'm an award-winning graduate from a sandstone Uni, in the top couple of percent, and I'm leaving.

So what are we doing wrong?

 

Grad Teacher of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Teachers seeing no future in state system, Jewel Topsfield and Bianca Hall, The Age, 30 May 2012 :  http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/teachers-seeing-no-future-in-state-system-20120529-1zhfz.html

Melbourne teacher : I have taught at two schools where I have been constantly bullied, threatened with physical violence and had things thrown ay me. I will not be going back to the state school system.

I am a teacher.

After working in two schools where I have been constantly bullied, threatened with physical violence and had things thrown at me, I will not be going back to the state system.

Students are continually allowed to get away with violence towards other students and teachers, with the excuse that having a terrible home life lets you off the hook.

I will never put my kids in a public school or subject myself to such abuse again.

If we are not careful we will end up like the U.K with the gap between private and public widening to the extent that social classes no longer mix.

Half of my friends were brought up in violent homes but weren't given excuses but consequences for their actions.

My friends treated adults with respect.

Violence doesn't breed violence, making excuses for violence does.

 

Schatje of Melbourne, Teachers seeing no future in state system, Jewel Topsfield and Bianca Hall, The Age, 30 May 2012 :  http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/teachers-seeing-no-future-in-state-system-20120529-1zhfz.html


Victorian Secondary College : Student throws chair at teacher. Parent blames teacher.

I work in the office at a secondary college.
 
It is ridiculous what parents 'expect' from teachers.
 
Students are rude to the teachers with parents backing their child all the way.
 
In one incident a teacher asked a student for their homework and the student retaliated by throwing a chair at them and hitting them with it.
 
The parent then said it was the teachers fault for 'antagonising' him and putting too much pressure on him (with a one page homework assignment).
 
 
Blah! of Mulgrave, Reader's Comment 32 of 55, Raise your own kids - teachers, Evonne Barry, The Herald Sun, 30 January 2012 :  http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/raise-your-own-kids-teachers/story-fn7x8me2-1226256687349

In Melbourne it is impossible to get a decent primary school job - I went to Malaysia.

Many of the nicer inner city Melbourne schools are full of older teachers who can't retire as their super funds dived dramatically a few years ago.

If a teacher is seeking full time employment in these schools its extremely difficult to obtain.

Who wants to work in a school where you are not teaching but purely managing to get through the day?

The system is letting teachers down.

I went to Malaysia to teach kids.

I actually worked in a school where you needed very good teacher education qualifications, it was not the backpacker teaching experience.

I loved it in Malaysia as I actually got to teach, use reasonable classroom management skills, felt respected by the kids and parents and did a great job.

Back in Melbourne it is virtually impossible to get a decent primary school job in the inner city and suburbs.

 

Gordon, Reader's Comment, The reality of teaching 'in the trenches', Lachie Gaylard, The Drum, ABC,  25 January 2012: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3790748.html

Victoria - too many Early Childhood teachers are being trained.

There are too many Early Childhood teachers being trained.

It is so easy to get a degree, fewer hurdles, no VCE, a few months of a Diploma (equivalent to two years University - you don't have to be good at maths in early childhood????) then another few months for a four year degree - VOILA!

The predicted shortage actually hasn't happened.

The older generation still need to support themselves and there's a whole lot of graduates who are not getting jobs.

The shortage didn't happen and it's not going to.

 

Deflated Kinder Teacher of Victoria, Reader's Comment 1 of 10, $1.3b bill to hire all idle teachers, Thomas Chamberlin, goldcoast.com.au, 24 February 2011 : http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2011/02/24/294331_gold-coast-news.html

Melbourne : disheartened graduate teacher.

In Melbourne graduate teachers don't get placed in schools in our first year out.
 
I spent six months looking (while relief teaching) until I got a nine month contract where I am now.
 
I went for an interview recently for my job and they gave it to someone else for next year as I didn't interview as well this other candidate.
 
Being a male I thought there was a need for us.
 
Now I face the prospect of quitting teaching altogether due to the fact that my fiance and I are going to have a mortgage.
 
There are so many graduating each year and many have to be relief teachers as there is no way to think that over 1000 jobs will be available each year.
 
The government need to do something about it.
 
 
Disheartened, Reader's Comment, November 3 2011, Exodus could lead to teacher shortages, Yasmine Phillips, Education Reporter, The Sunday Times, 5 February 2011 

Victoria : teachers put up with a working environment that is shoddy, dangerous and an occupational health and safety concern.

More than 100,000 items - many in dangerous states of disrepair - need to be repaired or replaced at Victoria's 1594 state schools.

The situation is so dire that some school repair bills now exceed the total capital investment they received during Labor's decade in power.

Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said run-down schools were a huge problem after years of neglect by governments that mostly paid for only the most urgent repairs.

"Schools have been left to run down and down and down. Principals and teachers now have to put up with things that are shoddy, dangerous and an occupational health and safety concern," he said.

Education Minister Martin Dixon said his department estimated the total maintenance backlog to be in excess of $300 million.

More than $17 million of the work is considered urgent, due to danger posed to students and teachers.

"Labor actually cut maintenance funding between 2000 and 2010 despite schools running up million-dollar maintenance backlogs," Mr Dixon said.

 
 
Victorian state schools left to rot, Peter Mickelburough, Herald Sun, 3 November 2011 : http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/state-schools-left-to-rot/story-e6frf7jx-1226184234812

Geelong, Victoria : students insult their teachers on an internet site. AEU President Mary Bluett says teachers are distressed. "It damages people".

Teachers in the Geelong region are being belittled and defamed on an internet site that asks students to rate them.

The website invites students to comment on teacher performance and personality.

The site carries Australian Government advertisements.

It also features advertisements for a number of tertiary providers, including Victoria University, La Trobe University, Macquarie University, Monash University and RMIT.

While the majority of comments on the site are positive, on 8 September 2011 the Geelong Advertiser read dozens of insulting comments about local teachers, many using obscene language.

Claims were made via the website that teachers were g_y, promiscuous and had touched students inappropriately.

Derogatory comments about teachers' physical appearance, hygiene, and speech were also commonplace.

Australian Education Union Victoria president Mary Bluett said some teachers were so distressed about comments on the website, they had lost the confidence to teach and some had even taken extended leave.

"It damages people," Ms Bluett said. "It's not a site that I think should occupy cyberspace."

 

Geelong educators slandered and abused on website, Mandy Squires, 9 September 2011 : http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2011/09/09/278265_news_pf.html

Victoria : Ballarat High School teacher assaulted. 14-year-old accused claims it was "... the best day yet" and tells his friends that he had "never felt better".

At 12.45 pm on 21 June 201, a group of between 10 and 15 youths allegedly went to Ballarat High School to fight with a small group of students.

Two teachers tried to intervene and and were assaulted. 

One teacher was knocked unconscious after one of the youths allegedly walked up and punched him in the head, knocking him back and causing him to hit his head on a sign post.

The teacher went to ground and lay in the gutter at the side of the road.

Another teacher was punched and kicked while on the ground

IT teacher Daryl Cavender was taken to St John of God Hospital by ambulance with severe concussion and soft tissue injuries to his face, shoulder and side of the head.

 
The 14-year-old boy accused of bashing the teacher boasted of his exploits on Facebook just hours after the alleged attack, claiming it was "... the best day yet".

The Delacombe boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wrote about the attack on the night before the incident and posted a number of Facebook statements after he was released from police custody.

About 10pm on Tuesday night he posted a comment saying he had "never felt better".

A number of his friends also congratulated him on Facebook, with some calling him “the man” and others praising him for making the news.

In the early hours of Tuesday he posted “off to bed big day tomorrow”.

 

Ballarat High School teacher bashed, Pat Nolan, The Courier, 22 June 2011: http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/news/general/ballarat-high-school-teacher-bashed/2202551.aspx

Boy, 14, assaults teacher, brags on Facebook, Ballarat Courier, Pat Nolan, 23 June 2011: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/boy-14-assaults-teacher-brags-on-facebook-20110623-1ggdn.html

Ballarat High School brawler in court, Evan Schuurman, The Courier, 18 October 2011 : http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/news/general/ballarat-high-school-brawler-in-court/2326934.aspx

On average, at least one teacher is assaulted and another teacher or student is s_xually attacked each day in a Victorian school.

On an average day during the 2010 school year, at least one Victorian teacher was assaulted, one teacher or student was s_xually assaulted in school grounds and nearly four students were seriously bashed.

There were 175 s_xual assaults against students.

43 of these s_xual assaults against students occurred in primary schools.

S_x attacks were slightly down overall on 2009.

Teachers were the alleged victim of 12 of the s_x attacks.

Victorian Department of Education spokeswoman Megan McNaught said there were no alleged r_pes in state schools in 2009 or 2010.

Government figures also reveal that 100 students and 32 teachers were either threatened or assaulted with knives or other weapons last year.

There were 918 assaults reported in 2010, up 13 per cent on the previous year.

Megan McNaught said some of the allegations had not been proved and some occurred outside school grounds.

 

Leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg said one of the most shocking cases he had encountered in the past year involved a 14-year-old girl who was held down and s_xually attacked by another female student at her southeastern suburbs all-girls school.

"There was an audience so you could imagine how traumatised the girl was," Dr Carr-Gregg said.

 

Schools are our blackboard jungle, Hamish Heard, Sunday Herald Sun, 22 May 2011 

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/schools-are-our-blackboard-jungle/story-fn6bfmgc-1226060203141

The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's principal selection process needs to be improved - and quickly.

I am sure the diagnostic criteria for 'psychopath' would apply to many Victorian school principals.

Perhaps it is the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's narcissistic principal selection process - or just the nature of of a very difficult job - that breeds so many deviants.

Whatever the reason things need to change and quickly.

 

Ballynure of Melbourne, Reader's Comment, Beware the workplace psychopath, James Adonis, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 2011  

There is virulent bullying against "tall poppy" teachers.

The single greatest drag on teaching performance is abysmal educational management and associated bullying and cronyism.

For decades, teachers who can't teach have been "promoted" out of the classroom into management - the inverse merit hierarchy.

These managers then employ people like themselves and bully out better qualified, better teachers to keep standards below their own.

From experience, the union doesn't lift a finger for teachers, but big-notes with management.

Unless people understand the virulent bullying against tall poppy teachers by this abysmal bureaucracy, they don't know teaching.

Psychiatrists help education authorities escape liability in the lovely WorkCover system, showing exactly how little respect all parties have for mental health, fighting bullying victims until their health is completely destroyed.

 

  • Reality of Victoria, Reader's Comment, Full marks for teachers who make a difference, Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, The Age, 5 April  2011  

Unsuitable people are in promotion positions in schools.

The central point in the "trouble with teaching" is the way power is grossly misused and abused in this system because unsuitable people are in promotion positions.

Invariably, rewards go to people who are in the boss's pocket to the exclusion of those who have earned it by hard work and better ability, who can then find themselves under the heels of the manager's mates and even forced out to eliminate the competition.

This is unethical, demoralising and causes the divisions in staffroom between "favourites" and "others."

From experience, these workplaces are run by well-paid managers as a tiny club for the benefit of those club members, not as a team, and certainly not for the benefit of teaching and learning.

This mentality is the problem and it is the level above teachers.

The better teachers leave because of it or are bullied out by it.

Many education workplaces are run like private fiefdoms (closed shops open to mates only) at public expense, and at the expense of teaching and learning.

This leads to the other great ill of endemic workplace bullying at phenomenal rates in teaching and, in the end, you have a system in crisis as there has been for decades.

 

  • Reality of Victoria, Reader's Comment, Full marks for teachers who make a difference, Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, The Age, 5 April  2011  

Victoria : AEU member is "thoroughly done over".

Heard the one about the AEU-affiliated law firm which was signed up by an education employer to "get rid of" one of the best teachers they had ever employed and an AEU member?

The member was told by the law firm they couldn't help her after a lifetime of dues as they were representing the employer in an unfair dismissal case against her and it would be a conflict of interest.

This should say something about how much the AEU's regard for its members.

Not a whimper, with management all the way, and allow a brilliant teacher to be thoroughly done over and bullied into ill health.

  • Joke? of Victoria, Reader's Comment, Full marks for teachers who make a difference, Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, The Age, 5 April  2011  

2009 education graduate : we Education students were repeatedly told that Australia was facing a teacher shortage. It was a blatant lie.

I'm a Victorian graduate teacher, who studied a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education, and graduated in December 2009.
 
I've had the equivalent of probably two months of casual and contract work in the meantime, and see no chance of furthering my career in the field.
 
There just aren't the jobs out there that we were told there would be.
 
After being *lied to* by my university over the course of my degrees, I see little hope in going on to further tertiary study, as the current "areas of high need" will probably change in the 3-4 years it will take for me to complete any postgraduate studies. 
 
We Education students were repeatedly told that Australia was facing a teacher shortage - which was a blatant lie then, and continues to be.
 
While I recognise that certain fields (such as maths, science and LOTE) are high demand, this is certainly not the case across the field of Education.
 
I'm appalled at the complicity of the university system, the mainstream media and the Department of Education in maintaining this disgusting state of affairs.

So, after many years at university, and a full year of waiting and hoping for my teaching career to begin, I'm going back to hospitality.
 
The pay and the conditions are terrible, but at least no one is going to ruin my career because I didn't kiss the appropriate posterior, or asked the wrong questions of a psychopath with power.
 
Anyway, I just wanted to write to you and tell you my story, and thank you for providing me with the evidence to make an informed decision on the rest of my working life.
 
We need people like you telling the truth, so that the lies of the universities, the Education Department and the mainstream media can be exposed.
 
 
( Email sent directly to the Bad Apple Bullies website in April 2011.)

Victoria : dozens of Victorian students have accused their teachers of p_edophili_.

The Australian Education Union has revealed at least 32 Victorian teachers had taken time off work due to cyber bullying since June last year.

A search of the Rate My Teacher website uncovered dozens of anonymous entries by Victorian students accusing their teachers of p_edophili_.

The principals of some of Melbourne's most exclusive private schools are among the teachers singled out on the website, with comments including: "Children of (school), clench your b_ms and don't stop running ... (name) is a p_edophil_, pure and simple."

AEU Victorian president Mary Bluett said students targeting teachers on the website and social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace had caused several teachers to quit the profession and dozens more to take time off work.

"Some teachers feel they just can't go back and face the students at the school ... ".

 

BadAppleBullies Editor: Our teacher unions and state governments have to deal with this problem.

Teachers - and principals - must be protected from children's lies.

This is a really big issue for our profession.

It is much, much too easy for a child, a bogan parent - or a malicious administrator - to lie about a teacher and to destroy their reputation, their health and their career.

 

  • Teacher quits over cyber attacks, Hamish Heard, Sunday Herald Sun, 20 March 2011

Victoria : teachers are on contract for the first 5 to 10 years. 

Each year Victoria graduates 5000 more teacher graduates than are required in classrooms.

Some of these teacher graduates get absorbed by the education system as the year progresses, but many move into other fields.

Teachers in Victoria are on contract for the first 5 to 10 years, which means -


1. They have to apply for positions every year.
An incredible waste of manpower spending 6 hours writing each application for 10 to 20 positions, then attending job interviews.

Each school also wastes manpower forming a 5 person selection panel to write position description, select applicants for interview, interview applicants, select successful applicant and document everything in detail for the department spot audit

2. They may not be paid over school holidays

3. Their financial insecurity makes it hard to get a mortgage or make long term commitments

The tenuous nature of teacher contracts makes teaching an unattractive career option for people who have spent 4 to 5 years gaining post secondary qualifications.

 

  • Billie, Reader's Comment, 19 March 2011 : Pay-rises and productivity: getting the best out of teachers, Winston Smith, Unleashed, ABC, 18 March 2011 

Newcomb Secondary College, Victoria : principal assaulted by student's mother, sues the Victorian Education Department for negligence or breach of duty.

Former Newcomb Secondary College principal Toni Sharkey is suing Victoria's Education Department.

Ms Sharkey has lodged a statement of claim in the Victoria County Court seeking damages, the Geelong Advertiser said.

In the statement of claim Ms Sharkey alleged she was assaulted - bashed by a student's mother - at the school in July, 2006, and the injuries, loss and damage she suffered resulted from the Department's negligence or breach of duty.

In an article in the Geelong Advertiser in March, 2007, Ms Sharkey said the alleged attack caused severe bruising and soreness as well as a neck injury that required physiotherapy.

"More than the physical is the psychological (effect) you are never expecting to be assaulted in this situation," she said.

 

Ms Sharkey told the Geelong Advertiser her nightmare day at work began when she interviewed the Newcomb parent about her child's behaviour.

"She came in and swore and howled abuse at me and then all of a sudden she threw (a piece of paper) in my face and then leapt up and lunged at me. She had me by the throat," she said.

 

Ms Sharkey said the Department of Education would benefit from employing security guards.

A departmental spokesman said last week the legal claim would be defended.

 

Former school principal sues over alleged attack, Peter Begg, Geelong Advertiser, Herald Sun, 24 January 2011 

The parent trap, Elizabeth Tarica, The Age, 28 April 2008

Victorian teacher develops mesothelioma.

A long serving Australian primary school teacher tragically developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in a regional Victorian primary school.

Adviceline injury lawyers recently acted for the primary school teacher who was exposed to asbestos when renovations were done to a Victorian primary school in 1991.

These works released asbestos fibres into the atmosphere, as did additional works involving cutting an access doorway into an adjoining portable building which was lined with fibro cement sheeting.

The case is a reminder that even minimal asbestos exposure can be potentially extremely harmful.

Teachers and others should be aware of the potential for older buildings to contain asbestos and ensure that any renovations are conducted appropriately.

Any exposure to asbestos should be immediately reported and a full medical assessment including chest x-rays, should be undertaken.

Adviceline injury lawyers assisted this teacher to recover compensation for her injury.

It is necessary for decisive legal action to be taken quickly following the diagnosis of an asbestos related illness.

If you would like more information or advice on this issue please contact -

 

Michael Schaefer http://www.advicelinelawyers.com.au/our-people/michael-schaefer

or Alice O’Connell http://www.advicelinelawyers.com.au/our-people/alice-o-connell 

of Adviceline injury lawyers on 9321 9723

 

Australian teacher contracts mesothelioma after asbestos exposure at school, Advice Line Lawyers, 14 October 2010

If people knew what was going on in Victorian schools, many would be shocked at the conditions under which some teachers work day in, day out.

Teachers endure unsafe working conditions in many Victorian schools.

The Minister says she "takes teacher well-being very seriously".

Somehow, I don't think some of the teachers at Werribee and other schools would agree.

The Opposition claims that John Brumby "doesn't care about teachers".

I think Martin Dixon is correct.

Teachers have long memories and will remember the Kennett era.

Labor have had 11 YEARS to address the failings of the Kennett government with respect to education.

The results?

Spin, and more spin but no progress.

When are teachers going to get good working conditions?

If they knew what was going on in schools, many other workers would be shocked at the conditions under which some teachers work day in day out.

For example, poorly heated class rooms in winter, no air conditioning in summer, disgraceful toilet facilities, poorly maintained buildings and cramped offices.

 

  • Margaret of Melbourne : Reader's Comment, Teacher seeks bullying payout, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, 20 July 2010

Werribee Secondary College, Victoria : several teachers have lodged compensation claims over alleged bullying by senior staff.

In December 2009, four teachers from Werribee Secondary College were allegedly taking legal action for what they claim was psychological damage resulting from bullying and harassment by senior staff.

The teachers had collectively spent several years on paid leave, accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in WorkCover payments.

A former Werribee SC teacher, who has not taken legal action but left the college "out of exasperation" several years ago, said WorkCover payments were an easy get-out clause for schools whose staff complained about bullying and favouritism.

"Who cares? They don't. It's a drop in the ocean and (the school) doesn't have to pay," she said.

A recent WorkSafe study shows two in every five Victorian teachers report being victims of occupation bullying - double the state average.

Worksafe inspectors visited Werribee Secondary College late 2009 and again in May 2010 over issues relating to health and safety and occupational violence involving students.

A worksafe spokesperson said yesterday that after the May visit, the school complied with a notice to improve procedures for yard duty by staff.

 

  • On Friday 14 May 2010 a student hit a male teacher over the head with a garden stake. The teacher needed stitches.
  • Two weeks earlier a female teacher injured her arm after trying to break up a fight between students.
  • And in 2009 a Werribee student punched a teacher in the nose after ignoring a request.
  • Also in 2009 Werribee Humanities teacher Paul Unsworth was awarded up to $140,000 by a magistrate who ruled that his depression and stress were aggravated during a performance review at the school.

 

Paul Unsworth claimed he was bullied and harassed by the principal and other senior staff at Werribee Secondary College over a period of three years.

He sued the Education Department over the alleged culture of punishment and retribution at the school.

Two other teachers also had WorkCover claims against Werribee Secondary College over similar issues, Mr Unsworth told Melbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday

An email from western region director Brett New that was accidentally sent to Mr Unsworth and the two other teachers offered full support for Werribee principal Steve Butyn's disciplinary actions.

"My perception was that I had no chance of getting a fair hearing," Mr Unsworth said.

Paul Unsworth will receive up to $140,000 after a magistrate accepted on 4 May 2009 that Mr Unsworth's depression and stress were aggravated during a performance review at Werribee Seondary College.

Werribee principal Steve Butyn told the court that the troubles were caused by Mr Unsworth.

But deputy chief magistrate Peter Lauritsen yesterday found in Mr Unsworth's favour.

Mr Unsworth's barrister, Malcolm Gray, said Mr Unsworth could expect to get up to $140,000 over 130 weeks period if his medical status remained the same.

Any payments after that would depend on further medical assessments.

Mr Lauritsen also ordered the department to pay Mr Unsworth's costs.

 

Liberal education spokesman Martin Dixon said Premier John Brumby didn't care about the welfare of teachers in Victorian schools.

 

Teacher savagely attacked with a garden stake at Werribee school, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, 21 May 2010 

Teacher seeks bullying payout, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, 20 July 2010 

Teachers sue over bullying , Evonne Barry , Sunday Herald Sun, 27 December 2009. 

Paul Unsworth wins compensation case, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, Tuesday 5 May 2009.

Teacher sues over bullying claims, John Masanauskas, The Herald Sun, Tuesday 28 April, 2009

I graduated as a Victorian secondary teacher five years ago and I have only ever had one full-time teaching job - all the rest have been casual or part-time.

I graduated as a Victorian secondary teacher 5 years ago, and have only had 1 full-time teaching job - all the rest have been casual or part-time.
 
How come I, and other teachers I know, are finding it so hard to get a job during this 'teacher shortage'?
 
 
 
Ciel W, Reader's Comment 175 of 225, Professionals could be Queensland teachers in six weeks, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail 21 February 2010

Mary Bluett, president, Australian Education Union, Victoria : workplace bullying is a problem with some principals.

39 per cent of Victorian teachers report they have been repeatedly bullied at work.

Parents' groups say the bullying culture among teachers is contributing to the problem among children - because students who see bullying in role models mimic that behaviour.

 

The Sunday Herald Sun has also found:

  • Victorian teachers encourage parents to complain about their enemies to school principals.
  • Staff routinely complain about each other's teaching ability to year leaders, principals and even education authorities.
  • Difficult students are "palmed off" on unpopular colleagues.

 

Mary Bluett, president of the Australian Education Union Victorian branch, said she was not surprised teachers topped the table for workplace bullying.

"Bullying is a problem with some principals."

 

Teachers trapped by class bullying, Evonne Barry, Herald Sun, 6 December 2009

"In Victoria, experienced teachers are leaving in droves."

Teachers, as employees, have expectations of being able to work in a safe workplace that is not injurious to their health, yet this is being denied across Australia.

As citizens, teachers should also expect to have legal protection against forms of violence against them, however State education systems deny teachers equal access to justice and equality with other members of the community.

In Victoria the workload of bureaucracy by the Victorian Institute of Taxation (sorry, teaching) imposed on 1st year teachers “to maintain professional standards” is one reason why the average time in teaching is now less than 5 years.

Experienced career teachers are leaving in droves, stressed by a combination of their lack of empowerment to deal with riotous kids, their powerless legal situation if an incident occurs and the bureaucracy that has little consideration for their Occupational Health and Safety.

 

Robin, Reader's Comment, Teachers are powerless to stop schoolyard violence, NSW High School Teacher, 01 September 2009

Patterson River Secondary College : judge finds overwhelming evidence that teacher has been injured at work and should receive compensation.

Maree Anne McCormack, aged 54, was employed as a textiles, art and health teacher at Patterson River Secondary College at Carrum in Melbourne, from February 1994.

Ms McCormack became anxious and stressed after a number of confrontations with students.

Ms McCormack was abused "in a particularly nasty fashion" in mid-2005 by a male student.

Ms McCormack told her doctor about the difficulties she faced in her job and about a lack of support from her employer.

In March 2006 she was working in a portable classroom with no way of contacting the office.

A female student accused Ms McCormack of kicking her.

Then the student withdrew the allegation.

But the principal made a remark that seemed to indicate a lack of support for Ms McCormack.

The situation affected Ms McCormack's health.

Workcover rejected her claim for compensation.

But Melbourne County Court Judge Bowman ruled that there was overwhelming evidence that ms McCormack had suffered an injury at work and that she should receive compensation.

 

Harassed teacher wins compo, Michelle Draper, AAP, The Courier-Mail, 4 April 2008

Langwarrin Secondary College : 16-year-old girls brawl and the teacher on playground duty is punished.

... A male teacher was on yard duty at Langwarrin Secondary College when a group of girls aged around 16 started yelling at each other.

 

Students surrounded the girls, and a few looked at the teacher - who watched on from behind them - to see why he wasn't trying to calm things down.

One said he heard the male teacher say of the girls being attacked: "B's a smart chick, and she knows what she's going to get herself into."

 

BadAppleBullies Editor : the teacher probably meant that he believed that B was too smart a girl to get involved in a fight.

 

Another student said the teacher was smiling as if enjoying the show, although the judge and the VCAT colleague decided he was probably just smiling because he was nervous.

 

For three minutes - as measured by surveillance cameras - the teacher hung back, behind the circle of watching students.

 

The teacher would have been observing what was going on.

He probably thought that it would inflame the situation if he got involved.

 

The shouting then suddenly turned into a brawl between eight girls, which lasted for 30 violent seconds.

 

Suddenly - you see - suddenly.

It turned into a brawl suddenly.

And then the brawl lasted for thirty seconds.

 

It was "vicious", the judge said, even though no weapons were wielded, bones broken or blood drawn.

One girl had tufts of her hair pulled out and her head pushed into an iron railing and was later taken to hospital.

The judge and colleague said although the girl hadn't been badly hurt, the fight could have been "potentially very serious".

So, what did the teacher do during this?

He claims he waved his arms and yelled at the girls to stop.

He claims he sent two year 8 boys to run for reinforcements from the staff.

But no witness heard him shout, saw him wave or send for help.

 

They weren't looking in his direction.

They were looking towards the fight.

 

And as the security cameras showed, he didn't step forward and try to separate the fighting girls.

Nor did he later check the injured girl or offer to help her.

It was her friends who took her to the sick bay.

 

Who was watching the security cameras when the girls were brawling?

What was the point in having security cameras installed if there was nobody watching them, ready to call the alarm?

My understanding is that the security cameras were introduced because the school had a history of playground violence.

My understanding is that the security cameras were switched off because they "distracted people".

Is this correct?

Who decided to turn the cameras off?

If you have security cameras because the school has a history of playground violence, isn't it negligent to turn the cameras off and then send a teacher out on playground duty?

 

None of the teacher's excuses - that he was waiting for help and that stepping in could have inflamed things - impressed those who should matter most here.

As the judgment noted: "(T)here was significant ill-feeling between the (teacher) and other members of staff as a result of this incident."

 

What was the evidence to support this statement?

Where were the other teachers who were supposed to be on duty?

 

School parents were furious, a community meeting had to be held and even students abused the teacher.

 

Furious with the teacher!

Of course they were.

Parents often blame the teacher when their child behaves badly.

And students always blame the teacher when they behave badly.

"He should have stopped me brawling, after all, I'm only 16!"

 

The principal, a man with 40 years in schools, was also appalled - his vast experience no doubt telling him a reasonably tall and experienced male teacher could and should have broken up a fight between eight girls, none of whom was known to have ever fought before.

 

If they had never been know to fight before, how was the teacher expected to know that they would actually start fighting on this occasion?

And would the principal have expected his women teachers to have involved themselves in the brawl?

Had the staff of the school been trained to single-handedly break up vicious brawls between groups of eight 16-year-old girls?

 

As he said: "Most teachers would . . . get in there or would start raising their voices, you know, pointing fingers and that sort of thing, where there was nothing like that."

 

The brawl lasted thirty seconds.

There wasn't a lot of time to do very much.

 

That was the verdict of experience, and one shared by others who'd spent decades teaching children and running schools.

 

Does this principal do playground duty on a regular basis?

Or does he just sit in his office, well away from the children?

A lot of administrators keep well away from children nowadays and they do not (want to) "know" that behaviour problems are increasing.

 

That's why the Education Department sacked the teacher - a decision backed by the Industrial Relations Commission - and the Victorian Institute of Teaching cancelled his registration.

Only the judge and her VCAT colleague, of all the authorities asked to rule on the teacher's dereliction of duty, thought he was fit to teach, and should be free to.

But the judge and colleague were, arguably, also the least qualified of all those authorities to say how the teacher should have acted and whether he should be trusted with students.

 

No, they aren't.

They are used to dealing with violent fights among teenagers and they have plain common sense.

How can you say that this teacher should not be trusted with students?

It was the students who were brawling, not the teacher.

These authorities want to punish this teacher to distract attention away from the behaviour problems of the students.

 

Again, I am not saying the judge made the wrong call at all.

But in some ways the decision was exactly one a lawyer, more than a school principal or good teacher, would make.

 

How many classroom teachers did you ask before you came to that decision?

How many vicious brawls between 16-year-old girls have you tried to break up?

 

The judge said the sacked man hadn't been given guidelines on whether or how to break up such a fight, and wasn't at all incompetent for having failed to do so.

After all, he shouldn't be "required to risk his physical safety" by stepping in every time.

To which there are two obvious answers.

The first is, if guidelines really are needed to get teachers to break up cat-fights, the judge had a chance to set some by insisting the teacher should have done what many senior colleagues agreed was his duty.

 

What about this male teacher's duty not to touch his female students?

What about a pregnant woman teacher?

A frail old teacher?

Are they all supposed to be responsible for breaking up vicious brawls between groups of eight 16-year-old students?

These administrators are trying to distract attention from their own responsibility to provide a safe working environment for the teacher.

Had the school provided teachers on duty with the means to call for assistance - for example, had this teacher been provided with a mobile phone?

A personal alarm?

Had the teacher been given any training in security duties?

Schools have a responsibility to employ trained security staff to protect children against these sorts of violent attacks during their lunchbreaks.

 

... The second problem is this: which book of guidelines could substitute for the judgment of experience?

How could guidelines even tell a teacher when it was safe to step in and break up a fight and when it was better to hang back?

Put on the spot in the 30 seconds of a fight, a teacher consults his gut, not a handbook, and veteran teachers and principals say a male teacher who won't separate a few brawling girls hasn't the instincts to be trusted.

That's the call of people with years behind them of keeping order in schools.

 

No, it isn't and they haven't.

These administrators probably have years of hiding in air-conditioned offices, well away from children.

It is disgraceful that this teacher's career has been ruined by 30 seconds of poor student behaviour.

It is easier for administrators to blame classroom teachers than to deal with the student's behaviour problems, their parents, the media, etc.

Stand these administrators in the hot sun on playground duty for thirty minutes of their lunch break, listening to the endless arguments and complaints of the students.

Let them try breaking up a few vicious brawls between groups of 16-year-old girls.

Then send them back into the classroom to try to teach 30 hot, junk-food-filled and over-excited attention-seeking students.

No wonder recent research suggests that teachers work with a feeling of profound sadness.

 

The Herald Sun, 2002 (BadAppleBullies Editor : I have lost the original article, but in August 2017 there were still a few articles on line about this case. For example : VCAT backs sacked teacher, William Birnbauer, The Age, 12 August 2007).