Teachers working in independent and Catholic schools are threatening to stop supervising student teachers until their payment increases. The current $21 daily stipend paid by universities hasn’t changed since 1991, and is below what is paid in most States and Territories.
The Independent Education Union is campaigning for a doubling of the payment, however so far only the Australian Catholic University has agreed to negotiate a higher fee.
The reluctance of other universities to increase the stipend is controversial in light of the $800 per student payment universities receive from the federal government to help cover the costs of practicums.
Practical students typically take around half of their supervising teachers’ classes, with the teacher expected to supervise all classes and help design the lessons.
USyd Education Society (EDSOC) president Matthew Woolaston suggests that the fee should be re-evaluated, “given the time and effort a majority of supervising teachers put into training and working with students.”
However, fourth-year Education student Luke Dassaklis warns that not all teachers may deserve a raise, as “some teachers just make prac students do their work for them”.
The threatened strike action puts additional pressure on universities already struggling to find placements for the 22,000 students currently enrolled in Education degrees in NSW.
However, Education students worried about prac placements should probably be more concerned about their job prospects after graduation. Each year in NSW, about 5,500 newly graduated teachers compete for fewer than 800 permanent teaching positions.
This oversupply of teaching gradautes seems unlikely to change soon. Universities are “more concerned with checking there are bums on seats than whether those people get jobs,” says Woolaston.