Wednesday, February 25, 2004

working 7 till 12 ...

Things have been very busy lately - but we all know this refrain. As the VASS coordinator (I've been given the name 'VASS Man' or 'VASSectomy Guy' by some staff) I've been hard at it getting all the VCE enrollments up to date and schmick. So this afternoon when most things were finished I found myself with some time to actually prepare some lessons! I don't want to relax to much though as there is plenty more to do - of course.

During the rush to get all the information entered onto the database, I have had time to think about why I took this job on in the first place. Sitting out in the back room, alone, keying in subject enrollments and class lists has not been an epiphany, but has helped me realise that I might have been wring about taking this job on. Despite the fact that I can find my way around a computer, and you may think this strange indeed, but I am not turned on by data entry. Now don't get me wrong, there are parts of this new role that I am enjoying - getting to know others in different ways, interacting with more senior students, etc.

The year 7s have been on camp this week and this has also given some of us a little breathing and head space. They are back tomorrow thought and I'm still behind on my corrections. I think I've had their work for a couple of weeks now! They are very cute. I never thought I would be saying this - I always thought it was a strange thing to say - but now I'm a believer.

Anyway, over the last couple of days it seems that I've missed quite a bit of action. The AEU has called a 24hr stop work on March 3. It seems that this has arisen over the negotiations for a new pay/conditions agreement with the delightful Bracks Government. The AEU made a claim for 30% over three years, and the govt retorted with 9% over three years plus a cut in 'holidays'. They want teachers to go back to school after the summer break one week early. Read The Age report.

As well as all this, there is talk of the govt. wanting to INCREASE teaching hours. This is interesting considering most days, I and many teachers I know and respect are spending the whole day at work and then putting in a number of hours every evening. The last couple of weeks I have worked from 8am to 11.30pm with perhaps a dinner break, or picking up Emma from the station, or something like that. I'm not sure where I could fit more in. In some areas of work, the busy times are like the tides: in teaching it always seems to be hightide. Not that this is a complaint, only that is is frustrating to hear comments about increasing teachers' workloads.

The AEU website had some interesting comments about what union types have seen as a failure of the VIT to measure up to its stated aims of advocacy for the profession, in relation to the PM's comments re: value-neutral schools.

Anyway, today I read that Highvale is about $150,00 in debt to the Ed department. (Schools hit by funding shortfall). Alex (our principal)is quite open about this, but it was another thing to read it in the newspaper and understand that this is widespread issue - senior staff who cost more, and funding policies that seem to encourage schools to hire younger teachers and put experience out of range. Complex issue of course. One one side of the coin, the govt is obviously attempting to encourage schools to vary their staff and have a range of young and older more experienced staff, but penalising those who sometimes through no falt of their own have ended up with more senior and expensive staff is nonsensical. Especially when this means that the school suffers from a loss of programs, resouces, etc. Latham has offered to develop a differnet funding formula.

Also found a follow up to Howard's comments about value-neutral public schools: Ray Willis, Principal of Melbourne High School.

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