Teachers going above and beyond

On World Teachers Day, President Jarvis Ryan pays tribute to our teachers and educators*

Being a teacher in the Northern Territory is no walk in the park. Whether it’s the heat, remoteness or a student cohort unlike anywhere else in Australia, our teachers face many hurdles in helping children get the start in life they deserve.

And yet in the face of such adversity, everywhere I look I see dedication, innovation and improving results from our schools.

It’s easy to focus on how our standardised test scores lag the rest of the country. But that misses our complexity and merely underscores the challenges we face to close the achievement gap with the rest of the country.

A report released this week by the Grattan Institute found that, once student background is factored in, Northern Territory students are often making progress above their interstate peers. In other words, teachers and schools are doing a lot of “value adding”.

Teaching in the Territory is indeed a tough gig, and our union makes no apologies for being a strong advocate for our members’ interests.

Our workplace representatives are focused on ensuring schools are a safe place for staff and students alike.

We recently negotiated a new enterprise agreement that makes our classroom teachers the best paid in the country, with more guarantees protecting entitlements such as study leave. The agreement also contains measures to fast track permanent employment for teachers.

With high turnover being a perennial issue in the NT, competitive salaries and conditions are essential to attract and retain teachers, preferably for the long term. Teacher retention creates more stable learning environments that can drive further improvements in student achievement.

Teaching can often feel like a thankless task. World Teachers Day is an opportunity to come together, celebrate our successes as a profession and acknowledge our colleagues who have been recognised for their outstanding contributions.

Our teachers and educators have much to be proud of, and the AEU is proud to represent them.

* This message appeared as an editorial in the 26 October 2018 edition of the NT News.