From the VP: Our teachers and school leaders make all of our schools great

My eldest daughter, the "Gonski girl", finishes primary school at the end of this term. Over the past seven years she has been taught by dedicated and professional teachers at two great state schools led by hard working and caring school leaders. Her transition to the local high school will be supported by an excellent junior secondary program and great communication between the primary and the high school.

I’m a high school teacher, and following my eldest child’s progress through primary school has been a learning experience for me. I’ve learned about the complexity of the primary teacher’s role, teaching children at sometimes wildly different developmental levels across a broad range of curriculum learning areas. I’ve observed the Australian Curriculum in action as it has been implemented and have become very familiar with aspects of the C2C materials. I’ve marvelled at the capacity of teachers to bring joy to learning and motivate students, even when the concepts are difficult or the learning plateaus for a time. You can have a sense of the work of a teaching colleague from another phase of learning, but until you see it close up, it is difficult to understand the extent of the role and the differences between the work of high school and primary school teachers, even primary school teachers in the early phase of learning compared to the middle phase.

What all teachers and school leaders share is the expertise to make their school great and to do the best they can for the students they teach. Whether they are new educators or very experienced, on contract or long term in a school, the drive to support students to experience success is the same. The school is often the focal point of a suburb or town and I’ve experienced the sense of community that comes from enrolling your children at the local school. I’ve watched her build strong friendships, resilience as a learner and the type of robust approach to learning and having a go that is a tribute to the teachers and school leaders she’s been lucky enough to learn with – in the classroom and beyond.

When my daughter had her photo taken for the Gonski campaign photos, she was finishing year three. The campaign has been running for years now and we’ve seen the high of the Gillard government legislation and the lows of the Liberal Party’s backflips and continued undermining of the funding model. As teacher unionists, we work to promote and protect public education for the greater good of society. We continue the campaign for Gonski because we know that in every school in Queensland there is a story about the difference the additional funds are making. It’s not just the big picture that drives us though. It’s our own classes, the kids in our neighbourhood, the opportunities available to kids, no matter where they were born or how much money their parents have. If we want to live in a country where the local state school is the school of choice and every student, no matter their suburb, town or locality, has access to a well-resourced school, we must maintain the fight for the guaranteed continuation of needs-based school funding in line with the Gonski review recommendations.

I am proud to be a state school teacher, proud to be a state school parent and even prouder to be part of the QTU. I feel as though my daughter’s experience has been outstanding and that the state primary schools she has attended have been exceptional. The fact is that Queensland’s state schools, wherever they are, are outstanding and exceptional. Every day, teachers and school leaders make them that way. Although it’s not always immediately visible to us in the classroom, young people’s lives have changed and will be better as a result of the work we have done in 2016. QTU members have made Queensland state schools great this year and will continue to do so in 2017.

Sam Pidgeon                                                                                                                     Vice-President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 121 No 8, 11 November 2016, p9