With cost-of-living pressures on the rise, the recent transition to ongoing for four staff at Epsom Primary was very welcome.
Corey Gilmore, Grade 5 teacher and AEU rep, is one of four full-time staff recently translated to ongoing positions at Epsom Primary School in Bendigo. He speaks effusively about the difference this makes to his life. “It’s a massive relief to have that secure employment and take away that pressure.
“Our principal, Julie Ladd, wanted to give more security to staff, so she made the decision to make four of us ongoing immediately. It’s pretty rare these days. It’s been well received by everybody. Massive thumbs up to Julie.”
Corey has been on successive contracts for more than a decade, and that lack of ongoing security often made things tough. “In Bendigo, when I came out of uni, the competition for spots was hot, and ongoing positions were hard to come by – and probably still are. To get that secure employment where you don’t have to be interviewing all the time to get your job back every year – especially during the high workload periods like Term 4 – it makes such a difference.”
Being on contract “can make things tricky” in other areas of your life as well, Corey says. “Ongoing work provides more security around so many things. With the economic situation the way it is, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
They have a tight team at Epsom Primary – and, for Corey, having a principal so resolutely committed to her staff’s job satisfaction makes a big difference to his working life.
“It means they can put their energy into student learning rather than worrying about whether they have a job tomorrow.”
“We’re really lucky that we have a prin who understands the pressures that staff face and makes sure she does the best to alleviate those where she can. Julie is well aware of the extra stress faced by staff on contract. She’s been fantastic.”
Julie is also in tune with the broader stressors and demands of the system at the moment, Corey says. “She has been pretty progressive around things like secure, full-time employment – and not only that but also taking into consideration issues around workload and trying to alleviate some of those pressures where she can, too.”
Principal Julie Ladd sees this as a win–win for the school and for its teachers. “Happy staff means a happy school, and secure staff means a secure school,” Julie says.
She feels strongly about the importance of having staff who are committed to their students. “It means they can put their energy into student learning rather than worrying about whether they have a job tomorrow. I went through years of the ‘every six-month contract’ initially and I know how that can feel; and I know the positive feeling when you know you’re at your ‘home school’,” Julie says.
It’s also about making sure that students know what to expect when they step into their classroom, she adds. “As far as consistency for student learning, it’s very important.”
Julie says that the staff members offered ongoing positions have demonstrated commitment to Epsom Primary School and to their students. “They’ve earned it – they work hard, and they’ve made themselves a central part of the school. I want to keep them, and I want them to be happy and feel secure.”