Wagga educators facing increased workloads

Teachers face rising expectations. Picture: Quentin Jones
Teachers face rising expectations. Picture: Quentin Jones

Step up and work beyond the bell, was one Wagga principal’s message to young teachers after a national survey revealed almost one in five teachers were looking to leave their jobs due to increased workloads. 

While the Educators on Learning research found that Australian teachers last year spent an average of eight hours a week working outside of school hours, Wagga's Christian College principal Hugh MacCallum said the reality was much higher. 

Mr MacCallum said he was happy with his younger employees but the general comment among local principals was that new teachers should be better prepared for the workload expectations of a classroom. 

“It is the nature of teaching, your job doesn’t finish when the bell goes and you don’t sign up for the holidays,” Mr MacCallum said. 

“You sign up to make a difference in young people’s lives.” 

Wagga physical education teacher Ryan Robertson, who has been in the industry for about three years, said he didn’t realise the workload expectation were so high until his first placement. 

“You are warned to a certain degree but until you throw yourself in the deep end you really don’t know,” Mr Robertson said. 

Despite the statistic, Mr Robertson said his passion for the job outweighed the crazy hours. 

“It’s a common misconception that we have 12 weeks off a year,” Mr Robertson said. 

“You need to spend a certain amount of hours to make sure you are prepared.

“Some teachers have trouble with the workload but it’s never stopped me.” 

Mr Robertson, who started out in the public education system and is now teaching at a private school, said the workload was similar for both positions. 

The Riverina Anglican College principal Paul Humble said his teachers put in up to 20 hours a week outside of work. 

Mr Humble agreed the workload expectation was part and parcel of the industry but said the hours had risen in recent years. 

“The preparation expectations haven't changed but when you throw in activities like sport and things that happen on the weekend, it extends the time out quite a bit,” Mr Humble said. 

“Dealing with the hours is a lot of trial and error for young teachers. Handling it well comes down to experience.” 

Mr Humble said young teachers needed more support to face the transition.

“We try to work and mentor younger teachers to be able to know when enough is enough and when it’s time to put the books down,” Mr Humble said. 

“It’s impossible to get your head around it until you hit the ground.”