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6 May, 2021

Gilgandra Highschool teachers walk out

Teachers are with children over 30 hours a week, mentoring, nurturing, supporting them to be the best version of themselves. So, when that critical time and energy is cut down by the lack of teachers available, it’s the students who suffer first.

By Emily Middleton

On Thursday, April 22, teachers from Gilgandra High School (GHS), who are part of the NSW Teachers Federation, staged a 20-minute walk out. GHS is a low-point scoring school, meaning the incentives and other entitlements for rural schools don’t reach GHS.

“The point system is meant to be worked out on proximity to where you are located, access to resources, the temperature, things like that. But we are a low-point school so we’re the same as a lot of Sydney schools, and because we don’t have that point system to entice people out, and the incentive, that’s just one preventative for getting teachers out here,” said NSW Teacher’s Federation representative for GHS, Bree Patton.

Being five and a half hours from Sydney, a lack of housing available, and no incentives to come and teach, are just some of the reasons there is a lack of casual staff to cover full timers. Permanent teachers are already having to take extra classes, ultimately cutting down on much-needed time to plan enriching and engaging content for their students. This wasn’t the first time the teachers have tried to get their voices heard.

Ms Patton told The Gilgandra Weekly that; “a month ago we met at the union, and we passed a motion calling on the department to raise our entitlements. This would essentially allow us, with the funds, to employee more teachers so we can provide our own casual cover – to solve our own problem in a way.”

However, this was unsuccessful. “We gave them a month to respond, and we got no correspondence from the department.

“So, we met again and that’s why we did the 20-minute walk out, to get some interest and to show people we have this staffing shortage. And it’s not just Gilgandra, this is a state-wide issue,” said Ms Patton.

“We want the students to have the best education possible. And if we can’t get teachers to take lessons when other teachers are off sick, it’s the students that are missing out.”

So far, there has been no response from the department of education to the walk out. Local teachers say they just want what’s best for the students.

“Just because you grow up in the country, you shouldn’t receive a lower education or a lesser standard of education then somebody who grows up on the eastern beaches in Bondi. Your postcode shouldn’t determine that,” said Ms Patton.

There is uncertainty on where to go from here, as lack of funds and lack of change sees a standstill for GHS teachers.

The reason for Gilgandra’s low-point scoring is unknown, and continues to cause major issues for staff.

The Gilgandra Weekly contacted the department of education for a response however, comments were not received in time for publication.


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