Melbourne: Teacher Shortages Risk Return To Remote Learning

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Schools in the greater Melbourne area have been forced to cancel or consolidate senior student courses due to a lack of teachers, as well as an influx of resignations, because of a teacher shortage.

The Wyndham Vale school was unable to operate numerous secondary sessions this week, or to put together a senior schedule prior to the start of the school year. Parental concerns about students missing out on some of the essential VCE topics led to the grouping of various subjects together.

On the first day of classes this week, Stephen Warner, the principal of Manor Lakes P-12 College, warned parents that the school was already “under some staffing duress.”. He said that between 60 to 70 of the school’s 320 employees were missing, with the majority of these absences being caused by COVID-19 infections, the flu, or the fact that they were caring for their own ill children.  COVID limits have seriously harmed the supply of teachers he mentions in a statement to families on Monday. “The changes to work after two years in lockdown and personal situations has resulted in substantial numbers of staff opting to resign.”

Due to teachers quitting the profession, illness and COVID-19 absences, and a decrease in temporary relief teachers, schools in Victoria continue to struggle with staffing.

It has been suggested that instructors wear masks and that schools be given the option to use brief periods of remote learning.

School principals say they’re dealing with a personnel shortage that predates the COVID outbreak.

Warner said that the school was lacking roughly 15 instructors and that advertised positions were tough to fill. According to him, many of the school’s instructors had left to pursue employment that was more convenient for them, whether it was because they wanted to be closer to their families or for personal reasons.

Staff absences caused some kids to miss out on educational opportunities, he added, but the school calendar resumed normal operations as planned on Wednesday.

Year 11 student Nordin Hammouche stated he had fallen behind in his schoolwork because of teacher shortages.  “With so much content that needs to be covered, it means that I’ll be missing out on that content which could weaken my chances of getting a decent ATAR next year,” he said.

According to Warner, the school is preparing for even greater staffing shortages in term 4. He added he would consider urging secondary school kids to remain at home if the department enabled him to make such a suggestion.  “Some requests may be made in the near future for secondary students to remain home where they can, but I hope this does not eventuate,” he wrote in his memo to students.

In addition, he said they’d be appealing for special consideration for their VCE pupils, as a result of the interruptions.

The vice president of the Victorian section of the Australian Education Union, Justin Mullaly, argued that the department should provide teachers with greater freedom and assistance.  “This may need to include short periods of remote learning when a school experiences significant shortages to ensure the ongoing provision of educational programs to students and to support the health and well-being of staff over the longer term,” he said.

He stated that the union was urging the department to increase the number of casual relief instructors and reduce work obligations that were not focused on vital teaching and learning activities.

Teachers in Victoria are now short because too few individuals are interested in pursuing a career in education, according to Colin Axup, head of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals (VASP).  “[The teacher shortage] has been slowly building and there has been concern pre-Covid about whether we will have enough teachers,” Axup said.

The Andrews administration introduced a teacher incentive scheme in late 2019 before the pandemic started, giving teachers up to $50,000 in compensation to work in hard-to-staff schools.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education and Training said earlier this week that Manor Lakes P-12 does not provide remote learning as an option.  “As with many schools and workplaces across every sector, Manor Lakes P-12 had a number of staff absent earlier in the week, but all scheduled classes were delivered.”