Australian News

Australian teachers fears for students as schools need more support

Exclusive: The fallout from home learning is a looming disaster for students according to a major survey which has found teachers are struggling with remote schooling and the childrens’ schoolwork is suffering.

With the bulk of students across Australia still doing some form of home based learning over the next month the study found more than half of 1,200 teachers surveyed said they are worried about keeping students engaged and achieving good outcomes.

A further 48 per cent said their main worry was keeping up with the curriculum and 33 per cent of teachers said they feel the pressure of parental expectation.

The results are alarming given how much face-to-face teaching time students have missed over the school shutdown and come as News Corp runs a campaign to help support teachers and students, calling on governments to be clear about the transition and detail what resources teachers will receive so they can run catch up education programs to see how much work students have missed.

Allan Dougan, Global Head of Education for 3P Learning, who supply education programs Reading Eggs and Mathletics to schools across the country, ran the survey and said: “We should not underestimate the challenges that teachers are struggling with during this crisis. They are undergoing a once in a generation disruption to their craft, it will be long lasting, and it will change the way they do their jobs well into the future.

“It is imperative that teachers continue to be given the support and tools that they need in this time.”

Australian Catholic University’s Acting Head of Education Associate Professor Miriam Tanti said diagnostic programs for teachers to check in on student were crucial as schools slowly start to reopen.

“Teachers are going to need time, so they can work and develop personalised intervention plans for students we know teachers have a wide range of diagnostic tools that can assess literacy and numeracy and they need to the time to be able to actually implement that,” she said.

Other campaign requests include additional cleaners, adequate supply soap and hand sanitiser, supporting the teachers with free flu shots, on site teacher COVID testing in hot spots, a commitment to hire additional teachers to support the transition and NBN has delivered on the request for IT support for vulnerable teachers delivering their lessons from home.

Telstra have also responded to the campaign with a spokesman saying: “we have the utmost respect and admiration for workers on the frontline who are doing incredible work under difficult conditions and we’re looking at how we can best recognise that.”

”Specific to the education sector, we are proud to be providing over 20,000 students and teachers across the country with internet access to educational content to support their online learning.”

News Corp is also asking parents to nominate a ‘top teacher’ who have gone above and beyond for their students during these challenging times and a number of entries from across the country have come in, including from Alexander in South Morang in Victoria to teacher Hayden Godbold from St Joseph’s Primary School saying: “Hayden, thank you for being a great teacher 2019 and 2020. You’re supportive, cool and make learning fun!”

Stewart from Legana in Tasmania wanted to let Cath Kilner from Scotch Oakburn College know she has “done a fantastic job of organising the class, and the face-to-face lessons our child gets on FaceTime, has seen her improve greatly in only five weeks. Plus all the fun learning activities she sets for them is a great help.”

Michelle Smith from Cooks Hill in NSW said Karyn Thomson from Lakes Grammar has “gone above and beyond working with children at Lakes with learning difficulties. She supports them all day, helping them access work and upload it to their teachers. They would not have been able to cope at home without her!”

Nick Brook from Mount Barker in South Australia wanted to let Ms Nolan from Mount Barker Primary know she “has kept me informed and uploaded work for me to do through the app.

Ms Nolan, in her own time, has worked hard to make sure I have the extension work I need as well.

Ms Nolan deserves this nomination, as she is also pregnant and is looking after her class as well as her family during these unprecedented times.”

Selina from Paddington in Queensland said Dan Rogers from Anglican Church Grammar said: “I have heard Mr Rogers classes over the past few weeks during home schooling.

“He is so encouraging, positive and kind to the young men he is teaching. He role models great behaviours and performance, a real credit to the school.

“The boys sound like they love his class.”

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The appreciation for teachers could shift the strained relationship between teachers and parents into a new era, according to experts who believe the pandemic has given parents greater insight into their child’s education.

It comes a Principals Survey by the Australian Catholic University and Deakin University found that 84 per cent of principals and senior teaching staff have suffered some form of offensive behaviour from parents and students.

Malcolm Elliott, President of the Australian Primary Principals Association said the rising number of violence against school leaders was forcing promising teachers to quit.

“The stress and pressure that this behaviour has caused has led to a large number of quality school leaders leaving the education system and a reluctance among younger teachers to step into these senior roles out of fear of receiving similar abuse.”

Mr. Elliott says the report is a timely reminder of the great stress educators were already facing ahead of the impact that the coronavirus has had upon schools.

“Heading into 2020 educators were already facing growing stress and anxiety levels and now with the added pressure of dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 virus we are concerned about the impact on senior teachers,” said Mr. Elliott.

Chief Investigators ACU Professor Herb Marsh and his colleagues from the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at ACU, and Professor Philip Riley from Deakin University’s School of Education found record numbers of school principals – nearly one in three – faced stress and burnout from their jobs, including high levels of threats and physical violence by parents and students.

But researchers from ACU and Deakin believe mass disruptions to school and home life during COVID-19 could trigger a welcome uplift in community appreciation for the ongoing and unforeseen challenges faced by school principals.

“We know from anecdotal evidence that many parents, although impacted themselves, are deeply appreciative of this work by principals and educators. We hope this points to a future in which there is greater awareness and acknowledgment of the many stresses and challenges that principals face on a regular basis as they lead their students and staff.” Professor Riley said.

Denise Lofts, a school principal in Ulladulla High School, said there has been a shift in responsibility and an awakening of what role school plays in the life of young people.

“This is a springboard of a great relationship to benefit schools and communities. Students having autonomy over their learning has been the best and most refreshing thing, and them recognising they like it and have choice, agency and control over learning is very powerful.

“Schools are sometimes the front line for many grievances, yet this pandemic has seen schools hold the fabric of the community together and show how they are a vital part of society. And how we act as navigators for our families in the complexity.”

Former Victorian principal Anne-Maree Kliman said there is greater understanding by parents of what teachers do.

“There is gratitude in the communities for the work that they do and we have to capture that and build on it.

“We know remote learning has been difficult for some families, we know children don’t respond to their parent the same way they respond to a teacher – to them you are a parent, not the educator.

“Parents do have a bigger understanding on what it is like to work with a child on school learning tasks and that appreciation has come as a result of that.”

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