Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 24 June 2011

When Work is Fun

Minus one near Oakey

This week’s trip was my last this term. It was bloody cold when I left at 6am.

This was short a one, out to Roma via Wandoan. This run takes in some of the best grazing country in the state, behind Wandoan.
Great country between Wandoan and Jackson

It’s also of historical significance relating to bushrangers, but I will wait for a later post to talk about that.

The country is beginning to brown off and look more like it usually does, but the growth is lush. We could be in for interesting times with fires come September.
The road is narrow and flood damaged

At the half year mark in the schools there are often lots of staff changes, and this year is no different. There is a massive turnover of young teachers in this part of the world. It has nothing to do with the stress of the work (although for some that is a factor). Rather, it’s a consequence of the transfer system which entitles teaching staff to a favourable transfer (usually to the coast) after a few years western service.
Ten foot bitumen

 Despite the high turnover, it’s a good scheme. Without it, these schools would simply not be staffed.
Gas wells are proliferating

The calls we hear for allowing principals the right to hire and fire ignore this complexity. As an ex-principal I can understand the advantages of school-based recruiting, but the problem of staffing bush schools will have to be addressed and some compensatory measure applied before it would work out here.

How about a special rural teachers’ award with higher salaries and opportunities for additional professional development?
Warrego junction at Jackson

All the talk out this way is about the Queensland government’s imitative to bring year seven kids into secondary. This had to happen to bring Queensland into line with the rest of the country, but it will have difficult consequences for the small schools and the families of the kids who attend them.

I went to a farewell dinner for one top young teacher on Tuesday night at a local pub. It was a great night, although I was the only one in the room over sixty – actually I was the only one over forty.

This particular young teacher wasn’t heading off to greener pastures. She and her hubby are about to have their first child. Again, it’s a sign of the times that she is moving to Brisbane next week for the birth. The west is slowly being stripped of vital human services.

She’s a talented and effective teacher and I hope she returns to work after bub. She is rare in that she comes from a property near Blackall, and her hubby has a job in Roma, so she will stay in this part of the world.

On the way back I did some work in a three teacher school. Standing proud in the school grounds is a new library built with BER funding.
One of those terrible BER constructions abhorred by Blot & Blair - note the wheelchair ramp

Like all these buildings, it is air-conditioned, wheelchair accessible, and built to a very high standard. There is no way this facility (which is used by the local community as well as the school kids) would have been built under a conservative government.

Irrespective of the carping of the federal opposition, every school in the country will benefit from this initiative for decades. It makes me smile whenever I read the whingeing and moaning about the BER from the likes of Blot and Blair..

These buildings are a symbol of a value which is simply not understood by those on the Right. It's about inclusion - making sure that every kid can access all parts of the school, and that no matter where you live, you are schooled in a high quality building.

The Right seem to believe that you only deserve to get access to a quality school library building if you live in the city and your parents have a high income.

They need to get out more.

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