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PARENT OPINION: "I’m a parent of two kids in the public school system. Teachers, you are essential."

NSW Teachers Federation
Thanks to our brand partner, NSW Teachers Federation

I’ve just finished a full ten-week term “home learning” in NSW with my two primary-aged school children.     

Other than feeling like I have aged ten years in ten weeks, I think we all now fully appreciate the wonderful, difficult and beyond essential job that our teachers do.

Now more than ever, I think we can all agree that public school teachers deserve much more than thanks. They really, truly deserve a pay rise.

Reflecting over the last term, other than the realisation that year three math is mostly somewhat beyond my comprehension level, I struggled to captivate and keep the focus of two children. 

Image: Supplied.

How do they do it with up to 30 kids? And that's just the tip of the iceberg: what about all the preparation, planning and marking beyond what happens in the classroom?

During the last ten weeks, my 6-year-old's teacher FaceTimed him when he was struggling with schoolwork; she posted encouraging letters to each kid in her class via snail mail; created ‘Olympic challenge’ videos in the class stream where her own children competed in challenges for the kids to achieve. 

The school's Kindy teachers filmed a video of them flying paper airplanes to each other virtually, with positive affirmations for the kids.

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My eldest son who quickly showed his teacher his obsession with scooters and skate parks, and was given a tailored comprehension task all about the history of the first scooters, around how and why they were invented. 

Image: Supplied.

She was able to tap into what individual kids were into, keeping them interested and motivated as best she possibly can during everyone's difficult circumstances and distractions.

For each of their school class rituals missed, seeing how the teachers have organised activities like virtual Book Week Zooms, and interactive guessing games involving all the teachers and their favourite books has helped incredibly to keep the kids feeling connected to their community and giggling. 

None more so than the video his teachers created for Jump for Heart Week, where they edited a video together of every teacher skipping in their homes and backyards.

The school principal scheduled weekly lunch time Zooms with the various school classes where they could ask any questions and keep connected. 

They even posted daily lockdown leaflets with information for parents to keep updated and know what is going on with the school, the updates we need to know and helpful advice to keep the remote learning afloat. 

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As a school parent, the staff have always shown us incredible support, as have the kids; all while many of the teachers themselves are juggling with their own children at home. 

I continue to be in awe and beyond grateful that this public education we might usually take for granted is filled with the most dedicated, compassionate and passionate teachers, that really sacrifice so much of their time and care outside of paid working hours for their job. 

I'm saddened to know that 1 in 8 teachers leave the profession within their first 6 years, due to factors around the pay and workload pressures.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for parents, This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.


The myth that teachers work cushy hours is just that: a myth. 

A teacher’s job absolutely doesn’t end when the school bell rings. They have less time than ever because they’re often tied up in red tape and admin. 

It’s reported that teachers generally work 55 hours a week or more, to keep up with higher student needs and the constant changes in curriculum and technology.

*Grace, a teacher who works at a public school in NSW told Mamamia, “With the increasing number of compliance hoops we jump through, we need more time to complete planning, marking and administration on top of a full teaching load." 

“It feels like it can only be relieved by employing more teachers to either reduce class sizes or give teachers more time off class to complete it all.”

While teachers continue to speak out about these burdens, the problem is yet to be resolved.

In fact, there seems to be little benefit for those teachers who do stay in the profession long-term: a teacher’s pay doesn’t actually rise that much with age or expertise. 

The pay scale for a classroom teacher stops rising after about nine years, while the incomes of their university-educated peers in other professions keep rising well into the next two or more decades.

If we want our kids to have a high quality education, we need high quality teachers that join, and feel that they are recognised enough to stay in the profession.

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“Increasing pay means that teachers feel valued for the huge job they do, and that is clearly important for keeping teachers in the profession, and attracting brilliant ones,” Grace stressed.

Our public school teachers are doing more than ever, but their pay hasn't kept up. That means our teacher shortage is real. There are now more than 1,000 full-time teacher vacancies in NSW alone, and record student enrolments over the next decade are forecasting we’re going to need 11,000 more teachers.

So how can we attract great up-and-coming teachers in the future? And importantly: how can we actually keep them? 

The NSW Teachers Federation has just launched a campaign to give our public school teachers a well-earned pay rise and change their workload, so they have more time for students, and for our kids.

They commissioned former WA Premier Geoff Gallop to conduct an independent review of teachers’ work and it uncovered some key recommendations:

  • Increase teacher salaries by 10 to 15 per cent over two years to attract and keep great teachers

  • Give teachers more time for lesson planning, marking and collaboration

  • Increase the number of school counsellors so no child in crisis is forced to wait for help

  • Restore specialist support services and decrease admin to free up teachers so they can concentrate more on teaching and learning

Because we honestly can’t afford to keep losing good teachers. Better pay and conditions mean a better education for our kids. Every child has the right to a good education, regardless of whether they can afford to pay for one. 

*Michelle explained to Mamamia why she chooses to continue in her role as a primary school teacher in a public school, despite the various challenges. 

“Teaching is definitely a job you do for the love, not the accolades.”

“The excitement and love of learning is the reason you do the job,” she added.

After only 10 weeks' of remote schooling with my own children, I have never been more certain that our teachers deserve more than just a thanks, some hand cream, and a smelly candle at Christmas. 

They deserve so much more. As do our kids and the future generations of little learning minds. 

Join the NSW Teachers Federation campaign to tell the NSW government that teachers deserve More Than Thanks. Show your support here, and learn more about why NSW teachers deserve more than thanks here.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

NSW Teachers Federation
Federation is asking for a pay rise, because without great teachers our kids don’t get a great education. Teachers deserve more than thanks – they deserve a pay rise.