Casual teachers help schools weather stormsJohn Blois
In recent months there has been plenty of media attention brought to the teacher shortages across NSW. Trinity’s Head Master, Mr Tim Bowden, acknowledged the situation earlier in Term 3, saying:
“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 specialty 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.”
Trinity has been in a better position than many other schools, with an excellent pool of casual teachers on hand to support these fluctuations. Mrs Janet Wonders is one such teacher.
Having spent 20 years working at Trinity in the Mathematics faculty, Janet was looking towards retirement when the pandemic hit. By 2022, COVID was continuing to wreak havoc, so instead of saying goodbye to teaching for good, Janet decided that becoming a casual teacher was the perfect way to continue doing what she loved, supporting the School throughout a tricky time, while still enjoying the freedom of retirement.
“The plus is that you walk out at the end of the day and you don’t have weekend work or evening work, so it really lightens your shoulders,” she says. “The minus is that you don’t always get to build the relationships in the same way – that’s a given, it’s just the nature of the role.”
“I do know from friends who work in other schools that they’ve had to combine classes. We’re lucky at Trinity to have such a good supply when so many other schools are having troubles.”
Lesson plans, Janet says, are key to helping casual teachers step in to teach any class with ease.
“The professional approach from the permanent teachers makes the job of a casual teacher easier and more effective.”
Her advice to those thinking about casual teaching: “Be familiar with the routine and the discipline system of the School. Know who you can talk to if you need to. At Trinity the system is really well supported – you have a lot of back up.
Be aware that the expectations are very high. The kids learn every lesson – you will be teaching. I love that side. There are high expectations of the kids too, and they really do live up to that expectation.”
For students, it can be frustrating when a new teacher takes over a class during the course of a year, but with teachers like Janet on board, the transition can be smooth, causing as little disruption as possible.
While the shortage of teachers is something that many schools will be facing for some time, the staff – permanent or casual – are committed to making sure it won’t be detrimental to boys’ learning. Mr Bowden gave the following three pillars to give parents assurance of this fact:
- “Our boys are educated in a community, not by a sole practitioner.”
- “We are determined to ensure that the boys’ education is not done for them, or to them, but with them.”
- “Our School continues to meet and overcome the challenge of staff turnover by securing high-calibre and qualified teachers as needed.”
For those on the staff team – regardless of whether they’re permanent or casual – it all comes down to a love of teaching and being well supported
“The people side of things is absolutely the best thing about working at Trinity. I love the people that I work with and the boys that I work for,” Janet says.
“I’m really grateful that I can work here and I don’t take it for granted. I try to do the best job I can once I get here because Trinity looks after me. I do the best I can by the classes.”
Want to know more about working at Trinity? Check out all the employment opportunities available.