Let’s hold teachers in higher esteem

With no trade offs and respectable pay rises coming in a multi-enterprise agreement covering staff in many independent schools, one might think the future is bright for the next three years.

Yet the COVID era did much to highlight the growing disparity between the public perception of teachers and the reality they face every day.

We use terms such as professional engagement, professional development, professional standards, professional practice, professional identity and even professionalism, but step outside our industry and few see it quite the same way.

Certainly, token acknowledgement comes from the likes of NESA, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and the Office of the Children’s Guardian, but the public doesn’t place us in the same category as solicitors, doctors or architects.

Teachers have the legal and moral responsibility to care for, educate and steer those in their care – this seems to me to be the pinnacle of public trust.

Yet it didn't taken long since lockdowns were over for many to question the work of teachers once again. I had hoped that ‘home schooling’ would challenge the stereotype of teachers working only 38 weeks a year and going home at 3.30pm each day.

If we want better conditions, reduced workplace stress, higher salaries and a greatly enhanced public image, we each need to work, individually and collectively, toward developing our professional image.

The new MEA is a start and the respectable salary increases with it go some way toward making up the shortfall. Let’s all work toward making the COVID era one in which teachers are placed, socially and professionally, where we deserve to be.