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World Teachers Day

1 December 2022

 

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I also rise in support of the motion on behalf of the Greens. The Greens believe that a strong public education system for all stages of life is key to building a just and cohesive society. The most vital components of this system are, of course, its teachers. At all levels, teachers guide, they nurture, they educate, and they facilitate. They are required to be many things to many people, and they are integral to the functioning of our community.

Over the last few years, we have seen the growth of the teacher workforce not matching the increase of student demand. According to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, fewer people are entering the teacher workforce. According to their statistics, the primary reason cited by teachers for wanting to leave the profession is their workload.

Just this month, the University of South Australia released a report commissioned by the Australian Education Union of South Australia titled 'Teachers at breaking point'. This report found that South Australian teachers were working on average more than 50 hours per week. Teacher job satisfaction has almost halved, down to 52.9 per cent being satisfied with their jobs.

Disturbingly, only 6.8 per cent of teachers feel their views are valued by policymakers in the state of South Australia, so urgent action is needed to ensure that our teachers feel supported, valued and fully resourced to undertake the vital role they play in our community. Staff working conditions influence student learning conditions. The Greens have continually called for smaller class sizes and more teachers and support staff.

South Australian public schools are terribly underfunded. South Australia receives 95 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard, the standard that determines the minimum amount schools need per student to provide a quality education. As a proud product of public education, having been to Aberfoyle Park High School and Flagstaff Hill Primary, I am always proud to advocate for public education. The Greens' policy is to fully fund public education with 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard to ensure that our schools have what they need to support teaching and non-academic staff.

The motion calls for us to recognise the commitment of teachers and education staff over the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report by UniSA, teachers have felt the negative impacts of increased student absences, higher workloads, staff shortages and, of course, the effects on their social and emotional wellbeing. Teachers have had to step in at late notice to relieve others with COVID, often losing vital planning and marking time. They have been exposed to the virus through poorly ventilated classrooms and lecture halls, and they have had to manage hybrid teaching models, sometimes at very short notice.

I know all members of this place will agree that we owe teachers across our state a great debt of gratitude for the vital work they have done during this very challenging period. We certainly thank them for the significant contribution that they have made. I commend this motion and acknowledge the work of South Australian educators, and I do want to thank the Hon. Laura Curran for bringing this proposition to the chamber. As indicated, the Greens are proud to support it.