Teachers reaching breaking point

Over the last month several preschools and early childhood services in the northern rivers area have been seriously affected by floods.

For some preschools it will take months to be operational again in their original buildings as the damage is so great and all equipment has been lost. They are scrambling to find alternate premises and have them licensed.

We have seen early childhood services across the state rise in solidarity to support services with donations of money, equipment and wellbeing packs for teachers and educators.

This has been organised by Melinda Gambley from Clunes Preschool, who is a member of the IEU’s ECS Council. She has worked tirelessly to make connections and support services and staff.

Teachers are already under huge amounts of stress with COVID compliance and staff shortages. Is this the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

This week I was speaking with a director from a preschool who is ready to leave the sector. She recently enrolled in a program offered by the NSW Government called Transitioning Well.

This program aims to support community-based services that employ fewer than 200 people. She was able to have one-on-one time with an organisational psychologist to support mental wellness.

Part of this support included an audit of her daily tasks. Her role was risk assessed. The report stated that she is fulfilling four roles: teaching; business/financial; management/HR; and educational leader. This equated to between 63 and 70 hours a week. She is exhausted and feels she can’t stay in the sector much longer.

Another colleague told me that on one day recently she was the only permanent staff member at her service out of 11 staff. The other 10 were casuals called in to replace sick staff. Imagine the stress on that staff member ensuring that children were safe, happy and being offered an educational program.

Imagine the stress the casuals felt with little guidance and leadership. Imagine the stress on the children and families who had to leave their children with people they had no connection with.

We all know this is unsustainable and that we will continue to lose directors, teachers and educators from the sector. The workload is too great and the stress levels too high.