Schools New Educators: No teacher should have to work for free

  • By Josh Sankey
  • This article was published more than 8 months ago.
  • 31 Jul 2023
Graduate teacher Oscar Jolly has been highlighting the cost of unpaid placements. Photos: Meredith O'Shea

At the time of writing, our petition has well over 5,500 signatures, with dozens of pre-service and early career teachers writing letters to Premier Andrews and Ministers Natalie Hutchins and Ingrid Stitt, sharing stories of hardship and demanding change.

Sign our petition for paid placements.

Placement is a critical step in becoming a teacher. Not just for developing and refining our skills in the classroom, but for meeting other professionals and gaining a real understanding of the work – to hear about everything that makes teaching so fulfilling and, at times, also overwhelmingly challenging. 

As teachers, we give everything we can during the day to meet the needs of our students. On placement, pre-service teachers are doing the work of a teacher while also doing the work of a student. Where teachers are doing unpaid work after hours, pre-service teachers are doing unpaid work, full stop.

The financial strain of placements is leading more and more pre-service teachers to defer, drop out, or choose not to enrol in initial teacher education courses to begin with. With schools struggling to fill positions, it is essential to attract new teachers to the profession and to retain teachers currently working. At a minimum, this means providing support for pre-service teachers to complete their courses without taking on debt or burning out before they even begin.

But the push for paid placements isn’t just about alleviating the immediate impacts on pre-service teachers – this issue also highlights the chronic underfunding of public schools and the undervaluing of the teaching profession. Much of the work done in our schools is unpaid – planning, marking, phone calls, emails and admin that doesn’t fit into our 38-hour week but still needs to be done. All this invisible work has long been acknowledged but tacitly accepted as part of the role. 

By standing together, getting organised, collaborating, and speaking up with a united voice, pre-service teachers are making these invisible issues visible. Their commitment to improving their own conditions reflects their dedication to creating better learning environments for students.

We need all members to sign the petition supporting paid placements. Share your stories. Write to your MP. Stand in solidarity with pre-service teachers who are advocating for better conditions for themselves and their students.

In recognising the importance of placements, we acknowledge that education is our collective responsibility and that the work of all educators deserves proper support.

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