From the Head MasterPhilippa Lowe
I am delighted to welcome the community back to School for Term 3. Although many of us may have experienced disrupted plans because of the recent weather, I trust that everyone is refreshed and looking forward to the second semester.
There has been a lot of commentary in the mainstream media recently about the challenges that NSW schools are facing in securing appropriately qualified teachers. Whilst schools such as Trinity are not experiencing the problem to the degree that other schools may, we are certainly feeling some pressure and the task of recruitment is increasingly a year-round process.
There are a number of factors that are leading to this situation. Some are long-term and systemic, such as a shortage of people stepping into the profession, particularly in certain speciality areas such as Physics, Mathematics and Technology and Applied Studies. Some factors have emerged more recently; the ‘great resignation’, whereby the pandemic is reputed to have led many people to reconsider career and work priorities, has affected teachers too. On an even closer horizon, the impact of COVID-19 isolation, coupled with the winter flu season, has led to high levels of teacher absence and a shortage of available casual staff.
All these factors, which are being broadly experienced in all schools, have been evident at Trinity during the course of this year. An additional issue that we face, emerging from the historic stability of our staffing, is the high incidence of teachers taking well-earned Long Service Leave (LSL). Whilst I very strongly encourage staff to take their LSL, believing it to be refreshing and restorative, I recognise that it faces us with additional staffing challenges.
It can be disconcerting for students when a new teacher takes over a class during the course of a year. However, I want to suggest three reasons why this ought not to be seen as a significant detriment to a boy’s learning.
First, our boys are educated in a community, not by a sole practitioner. New teachers at Trinity step into a context where they are well-supported by a team, where collaborative practice is the norm, and where we help one another to ensure continuity of professional knowledge and practice so that the boys continue to learn. Trinity has a large and stable team of educators who are adept at incorporating new members.
Second, we are determined to ensure that the boys’ education is not done for them, or to them, but with them. They are not passive consumers of education, entirely dependent on being spoon-fed or being fragile to the point that any change is debilitatingly destabilising. Encountering and overcoming change and disruption is an invaluable life skill; we develop our ability to do it through doing it. A change of teacher is a relatively small and potentially beneficial experience of disruption.
Third, our School continues to meet and overcome the challenge of staff turnover by securing high-calibre and qualified teachers as needed. Our School is highly-regarded and well-resourced, and we usually receive a strong field of candidates for teaching positions. While we are saddened to say goodbye to excellent practitioners, we are very thankful that we continue to be able to recruit outstanding new additions to our team.
All of which is to say, it is entirely possible that your son may be meeting some new teachers in this second half of the year. I trust that the boys and families will make them welcome as they join us in our mission.
Detur gloria soli Deo
Tim Bowden | Head Master