Schools AEU welcomes new support for graduate teachers

  • 19 Feb 2020

The AEU welcomes a new graduate teacher program being piloted by the Victorian government to support graduate teachers starting out in their careers.

The $73.4 million pilot program will offer improved mentoring for graduate primary teachers – to be trialled in North Eastern Melbourne, Western Melbourne and Inner Gippsland – to ease their workload and help prevent them becoming overwhelmed or burnt out.

The AEU has been calling for measures to address workload for graduate teachers as part of our campaign to reduce workload for education support staff, classroom teachers and principals.

AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace says access to additional planning time for graduate teachers, along with dedicated time for a mentor to support them, is a step in the right direction to relieve workload for Victoria’s newest teachers.

“For a long time we’ve been telling governments that we need to support new teachers as they step out of university and into our classrooms,” says Peace.

“There is a growing trend of teachers leaving the profession after only a couple of years, and with significant enrolment growth in public schools, we need to do everything we can to reverse that trend before schools face widespread teacher shortages.

“Our members regularly tell us that the first couple of years are the most challenging and that burnout is more prevalent amongst young teachers than ever before.”

“New teachers can often be overwhelmed and feel isolated when they begin their careers; giving them a mentor and local support will make this transition much easier.”

As part of the pilot, all new graduate teachers will be given a mentor and those in rural and remote areas will be given targeted support to help them get to know their local communities and build local networks.

“New teachers, especially those moving to a new town or rural community, can often be overwhelmed and feel isolated when they begin their careers; giving them a mentor and local support will make this transition much easier,” says Peace.

The union also welcomes the recognition of the important role mentors play for new teachers and supports allocating time which is dedicated to mentor-teacher relationships. This time will provide mentors with a greater capacity to work with new teachers and assist with their development.

“Experienced teachers really want to support new teachers, but that’s difficult when the mentoring, meeting and collaborating is expected to be done on top of a full workload.”

The union will seek to include additional time for graduates and mentors among the improved entitlements in the next Schools Agreement, as well as other provisions to reduce the burden of workload on all teachers, principals and support staff.

Time is critical for new teachers developing their skills and knowledge, and for all teachers to deliver high-quality education. Time is needed to do the essential planning, preparation and assessment, as well as collaborate with colleagues.

Workload support for graduates is essential, but the AEU will continue to push for broader support and greater professional trust in teachers, principals and education support staff.

The union will seek to include additional time for graduates and mentors among the improved entitlements in the next Schools Agreement, as well as other provisions to reduce the burden of workload on all teachers, principals and support staff.

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