COMMENT

The wonderful and tiring world of education

"It is worth remembering how lucky we are to have public education available to every single student in Australia," Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr says.
"It is worth remembering how lucky we are to have public education available to every single student in Australia," Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr says.

End of year presentation days are a terrific celebration of our students, their achievements and the tireless work of our school staff.

It should not be over-looked how important the family home is in bringing about educational success.

With all this in mind, it is little wonder that our school halls are full of smiling and proud people.

For those fortunate enough to have travelled into less developed countries you will have seen the enormous energy on young students, all perfectly dressed in full school uniform, as they make their way to/from school each day.

You see, in many countries, access to education is a special privilege and is certainly not available to all.

So while our kids might drag their feet in the morning or sometimes complain about their homework it is worth remembering how lucky we are to have public education available to every single student in Australia and the choice to go through other school pathways for parents that so choose.

Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr

Member for Cessnock, Clayton Barr

I do want to offer some special praise for our incredibly hard-working school teachers.

"Did you know, that on average, our teachers are working 55 hours per week?" 

Given that a standard working week is 35-38 hours per week, it would be fair to say that many of our school teachers are almost working two full time jobs each week, some doing even more than that.

If school teachers worked in other industries, they would average 17-20 hours per week of overtime - which would double their pay.

If teachers were able to build up owed leave time, or take flexi-days to get back their time owed to them, they would work a 6-7 day fortnight.

The health consequences on our teachers are severe. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) describes any work place involving 50 or more hours per week as "very long hours".

The ABS tells us that people that work "very long hours" are far more likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, develop heart disease, high blood pressure and more likely to suffer from stroke.

These same people are far more likely to abuse alcohol, suffer depression, develop diabetes and/or cancer and have much higher rates of divorce.

Now I know that many of you reading this column will be inclined to think "but they get twelve weeks a year holiday".

If you are thinking this, then you do not have a family member or close friend that is a school teacher.

Thinking of those 12 weeks as a "holiday" fails to understand the amount of work that teachers do to prepare their work away from the classroom.

And if you can't get your head around the amount of work that teachers do away from the classroom, then simply consider this - doing 55 hours per week a school teacher racks up their annual workload after just 33 weeks per year (based on standard 38 hour week).

If any of your local teachers are looking a little tired at this time of the year it is probably because they have done 1.5 normal workloads for the past 44 weeks since the year started.

Your genuine warm and sincere thanks to all of the teachers at your local school would no doubt be greatly appreciated by these incredibly hard working individuals.

  • Clayton Barr is the State MP for Cessnock. Contact his office on (02) 4991 1466 or cessnock@parliament.nsw.gov.au.