Contract uncertainty for teachers

Gippsland public school teachers are feeling the negative effects that come with the uncertainty of contract position work, according to a recent survey.

The Australian Education union’s annual Beginning Teachers’ Survey revealed 61 per cent of public school teachers in Gippsland in their first five years of teaching were employed on a contract.

The survey has also shown half of teachers did not see themselves teaching for more than 10 years and 58 per cent reported reapplying for their job had a negative effect on their teaching.

Traralgon College teacher Luke Bates, who is currently on an unfixed contract and in his second year of teaching, said he could relate to this.

“Well it’s difficult in one sense because by term three or four you’re paying attention to what jobs are coming up and you’re torn between preparing classes and applying for jobs at the same time,” Mr Bates said.

“I’m setting curriculum up for next year, which I might not be here for.”

Mr Bates said teaching could also be affected because contract teachers often needed to take days off to go to job interviews.

The 25 year-old said he was lucky to have no family commitments and could be flexible in his search for jobs, unlike others, but the uncertainty of the tenure of his position was a deterrent to applying for loans.

“It is an obstacle to buying a house, especially (for those working in) rural schools,” Mr Bates said.

“There’s quite a large number of schools in Melbourne.

“In Traralgon there’s maybe four or five, so the jobs might not be there for you and you’re left with a house and no work.”

Mr Bates said as he was contracted to fill a position while an employee was on extended maternity leave he did not know how long he might hold the position, but did not begrudge the contract system.

“What I’m led to believe is you can have only have so many staff, so there are people who are ongoing who are taking up the positions, it creates a lot of contract work,” he said.

“In one sense it’s good to have the one-year contract as it allows (graduate) teachers to get that qualification.

“But once you’re starting to look for permanent work then it starts to get a bit tricky and hard.”