Schools Giving CRTs the respect they deserve

CRTs have always been a vital part of our education system – but during ongoing workforce shortages, they have been more important than ever. It takes a special set of skills to continually adapt to different settings, classrooms, colleagues and student cohorts – sometimes on a daily basis. And yet, CRTs don’t always get the support and recognition they deserve. 

In 2023, we ran a survey of CRT members, which attracted almost 300 respondents. Of those, almost three-quarters had been teaching for more than ten years. That’s a lot of experience being brought into our classrooms every day. 

When asked if there was one thing that could support their work, the most common answers centred on briefings and feedback. While almost 67% said they commonly received a briefing from the school with key information, including school policies and procedures, more than 32% said they rarely received such information to assist them in their work. More than 23% claimed that they were often not even provided with keys and a laptop.

One CRT, responding to the question about what would best support them, wrote: For the schools to be organised enough to support me (and the students) to have a positive day. I understand that often teachers call in with last minute absences and colleagues are stretched to provide me with planners, but in many cases, this could be done far better.

Another said: I understand when people are ill, they may not have left everything prepared, but there should be a clear visual timetable accessible. A CRT usually has a toolkit to get them by, but a hard copy timetable, procedures, and detailed notes regarding student needs/medical should be provided, or digital access to school database to locate this information.

Along with lesson plans, many mentioned that information about any behavioural issues, an explanation of classroom rules, and standard behaviour management practices, along with support when dealing with behavioural problems when they arise, would be especially helpful.

Any information/observation relevant to the school context/situation [would be helpful]. CRT work is often triggered by teachers on stress leave, so the classes can be pedagogically/behaviourally difficult. Schools are often unable to provide effective help/guidance.

Feedback would also be appreciated. One CRT, who has worked in around 60 schools over the past two and half years, said that in all that time they had received “very little feedback, other than an occasional thank you from classroom teachers”. 

With the shortage … I’m being assigned to more challenging roles that are notoriously hard to fill. At one school, a principal approached me at the end of the day to say that he heard positive things from students and colleagues about how I organised the class. This, he explained, was a very difficult cohort, and he wondered if I might be available to take them again the following week. This was much appreciated but very, very rarely happens.

The AEU is continuing to use its survey results as the basis for providing better support for CRT members. This includes reminding principals and teachers of the importance of providing practical information and feedback to the casual teachers working in their schools. While this can take a bit of time at the outset, it ultimately ensures a far smoother experience for staff and students alike. 

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