Money and teachers

From ABC News:
A Griffith teacher has welcomed a proposal for higher pay rates as a step in the right direction towards retaining quality teaching staff in the Riverina.

The Business Council of Australia is calling for a pay rise for some teachers to more than $130,000 a year, saying talented people avoid the profession because of low pay.

Education Minister John Della Bosca has rejected the proposal as ludicrous because of its cost.

But Griffith High School's teachers' federation representative, Richard Wiseman, says the proposal has merit if rewards are shared fairly.

"We're ... one of the schools in the country areas that have no rental incentives, we get no incentives for transfers so ... something has to be done to make some of our locations a bit attractive for teachers," he said.
While I think the idea of raising wages of teachers to $130,000 is a bit steep, Richard Wiseman (a teacher I worked with at Griffith High School and a good bloke) is spot on when he talks here about a lack of incentives for difficult and/or out-of-the-way schools.

There just isn't enough teachers to serve the kids at Griffith. In places like Sydney and Newcastle, it is highly unusual for a school to not locate a casual teacher needed to cover lessons for any teacher who comes down sick. In Griffith, a lack of casual teachers was normal, and it was not unusual for entire classrooms of kids to be sent into the playground for the period to entertain themselves because no teacher was available to look after them.

I'm not saying that increasing wages to $130,000 will magically solve this problem (though it might eventually solve it over time), but that schools in remote and/or difficult places need some way to attract not just good quality teachers, but teachers in general.

When I moved to Griffith in 2006 to work at Griffith High School, I was welcomed with open arms by the staff at the school. They went out of their way to welcome me and make me feel at home and went overboard to ensure that I stayed for the two terms that I was working for (replacing a teacher who left suddenly at the end of term 2, who had also replaced a teacher who had left suddenly at the end of term 1). Moreover, they did this without knowing if I was actually a decent teacher or not. It made my decision to move there while leaving my family behind in Newcastle much easier to bear.

Had there been more incentives - covering the cost of moving, given a place to rent at a low price, having an extra week of summer holidays (common in outback schools where the summer heat is unbearable), the guarantee of a permanent position - then it would have been very difficult for me to want to leave and return to Newcastle.

In many ways money was not really the main issue - it has to do with job/income security and job satisfaction.

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