For everyone Overworked and underpaid

  • By Rachel Power
  • This article was published more than 2 years ago.
  • 4 Jul 2021

The latest State of our Schools survey presents the most powerful picture yet of members’ struggle to meet their students’ educational and welfare needs amid crippling workload demands.

As negotiations continue for a new Schools Agreement, the results of this year’s State of our School survey paint a dramatic picture of the impact of excessive workloads – for both staff and students – in Victoria’s public schools.

Featuring responses from almost 11,000 teachers, principals and education support (ES) staff, the findings show that public school teachers are working an average 15 hours of unpaid overtime every week; principals are working an almost 60-hour week; and 63% of classroom-based ES do not have enough time during paid hours to do the preparation and collaboration needed to adequately support their students.

The results from the annual survey show workload-related stress is a major – and growing – issue for the vast majority of school staff. This has led to almost half of teachers now regularly considering leaving the profession. Almost all (92%) believe reduced workloads would be the best way of retaining teachers in the system.

“Worked on my birthday (Saturday) and Mother’s Day. Still have at least four days of prep and marking hanging over me just to get up to date, which I never can be. Just finished work at 11pm Sunday night!”

Lucy Flood

AEU branch president Meredith Peace says teachers, principals, and ES “need workload relief now”.

“Despite their professionalism, exhausted teachers with excessive workloads and teaching large classes can’t deliver the quality and support our children need and deserve,” Peace says.

“Teachers must be provided with the time and professional trust they need to focus on their core work of teaching and learning.

“Principals burdened by excessive administration and compliance do not have a manageable workload and cannot easily provide the educational leadership needed to deliver the best education to their school communities.

“And education support staff urgently need a fair wage that recognises their value and professionalism.”

“This is why I choose to be a CRT, especially with a kid now. I love teaching, but the work NEVER ENDS. I could work 24/7 and still not get everything done.”

Sophie Papadopoulos

The AEU is turning up the heat on the state government to address the workload problem in our public schools through the employment of additional staff and a reduction in face-to-face teaching hours.

“We need more funding for more teachers and more trained support staff, so that principals, teachers and support staff have the time and support they require during their working week to support every student’s needs,” says Peace.

“Each year, every government school student in Victoria receives $1,384 less compared to public school students in all other states and territories. It is teachers who have to make up for that funding gap, leading to stress and burnout.

“We want every Victorian child to have the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. That’s why school staff go the extra mile for their students.”

“The balance of work/home is gone. I love my kids, but I’m scared they’re not getting the best me at the moment. I’m exhausted.”

Kym Daglish

AEU members in schools have embraced the chance to get involved in the union’s public campaign, which kicked off in May with a ‘week of action’ highlighting the impact of crippling workloads and unpaid overtime.

Speaking to the media, Spensley Street Primary School principal Bec Spink said teachers at her school consistently worked unpaid overtime “just to do the bare minimum of what’s required” and that the survey’s almost 60-hour average workload for principals was “conservative”.

“It is a myth that teachers work 9 till 3 and it frustrates me no end when I hear all the teacher bashing that happens in broader society,” Spink said.

Meredith Peace agrees. “So much of the work done by school staff is invisible and increasing year on year.

“Victorian government school teachers, principals and support staff are overworked and underpaid. Something’s got to give.”

“We have to choose between delivering high-quality teaching or being with our families. As a result, I am constantly left with guilt and feelings of complete inadequacy.”

Fauve Grady

A summary of our key findings from the survey can be downloaded here.

To find out more about VGSA negotiations and how to get involved in the campaign, visit

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