Schools Dear James, are you listening?
More than a thousand passionate education support members have written heartfelt letters to Education Minister James Merlino outlining the complexity and scope of their work. Here are just a few examples from the letter-writing action contributing to our push for better wages and conditions for ES staff in the next Schools Agreement.
I implement a Literacy Intervention Program. I prepare the resources, run the sessions, and report on their progress to the teachers. This is an important role, as some students have slipped behind during remote learning. Classroom support also includes working with students with disability and impairment funding. The support of ES, working collaboratively with the teacher, enables these students to access a mainstream education. Some of the children have complex physical, intellectual and emotional needs. The positive relationships we foster helps in maintaining a safe and productive classroom. After 18 years of committed work, I earned $36,232 last financial year. This is less than a living wage.
Vicki Peterson, Roxburgh Homestead Primary School
ES Level 1, Range 1, earning $27.92 per hour
I am an Integration Aide working with students with a diverse range of needs, from intellectual disabilities to ADHD, behavioural disorders to those on the Autism spectrum. My role is to support them. To alter work so they can complete it. To interpret when they do not comprehend. I calm them during tantrums, comfort them when they grieve and limit damage when they are violent. In many circumstances, without my presence they would not receive an education. I have seen successive governments talk of the importance of providing access for disabled and disadvantaged children. Yet time and again I see education support staff, who do so much work for these students, left to struggle and scrimp just to survive.
Benjamin Ward, Cranbourne East Secondary College
ES Level 1, Range 1, earning $24.04 per hour
I spend a small fortune on resources for students [and] a proper work-station as mine wasn’t suitable and the school can’t afford it to be corrected. When on leave, I am not replaced. This increases workload for me and other staff, and impacts on students as they often miss out on library sessions. Our ES are stretched across six classrooms trying to support multiple students, with teachers asking for more help and support!
Christopher Tricker, Grey Street Primary School
ES Level 1, Range 2, Step 2, earning $29.28 per hour
Libraries are the heart of a school. Also known as the ‘third place’, they foster a sense of wellbeing in students and staff by offering a sense of belonging within a safe and caring environment. Library staff need to be multi-skilled to meet the challenges of their jobs, including research assistance, reading recommendations, IT troubleshooting, student supervision, plus all the back-end library tasks such as resource acquisitions, cataloguing, end processing, displays – the list goes on. With a limited budget we try to provide a 21st century learning and recreational experience for our students and staff. I love working in our library, but we are time and remuneration poor.
Diana Blyton, Northcote High School
ES Level 1, Range 2, Step 5, earning $33.32 per hour
My work involves supporting students who have complex academic, emotional and behavioural needs within a mainstream primary school. These students can be disruptive and verbally abusive, and it requires a lot of intervention to enable a classroom to function in a way so as not to disadvantage other students’ learning. This is at the same time as supporting a funded child, and many others who are not funded but should be.
Kathy Mooney, Aspendale Gardens Primary School
ES Level 1, Range 1, Step 5, earning $27.93 per hour
I have sole responsibility for all the administration and financial procedures in our school. It is a stressful, challenging and demanding position, which requires a high level of knowledge of the department’s policies and procedures. I must ensure that the schools commitments in all areas are met in a timely manner, while supporting my principal (who doesn’t have a vice principal or assistant), as well supporting the staff with HR and administrative tasks. The work I do … ensures the school is not without services, necessary teaching supplies and a multitude of other things that ensure it runs smoothly.
Kerry Wrigley, Business Manager, Coimadai Primary School
ES Level 1, Range 2, Step 2, earning $29.98 per hour