“Respectfully, I don’t think he quite understands the nature of our trade.”
Dapto High School principal Andrew FitzSimons remarks were squarely aimed at Coalition backbencher Andrew Laming.
The prominent Queensland MP caused a stir on Wednesday when he argued teachers should spend eight hours at work each day, get just four weeks annual leave, and should not be marking or doing class preparation at home.
These comments put Dr Laming at odds with powerful education unions, and even Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose daughter Daisy is a teacher.
Mr FitzSimons also rubbished the brash politician’s call for teachers to work a “regularised” 38-hour week for 48 weeks a year, like everyone else.
“I think his proposal for an eight-hour day doesn’t make sense,” he told the Mercury.
“We run parent teacher nights. We run curriculum nights. We have a lot of activities outside any eight-hour day and at the end of it I say thank you.
“We don’t pay overtime. I can’t give compensation leave. I just say thank you for being here until nine o’clock at night to meet parents.”
Mr FitzSimons also doubted if Dr Laming understood the assessment component and how “supremely important” it was for students to receive feedback.
“The marking component for many teachers is very demanding and in essence has got to be done quietly. So, lots of teachers go home and sit down with 20 essays or in some cases 120 essays,” he said.
“They do this because they know how important it is for students.
“Just saying teachers should do an eight-hour day ignores those realities.”
The Dapto HS principal added “student well-being stuff” also didn’t fit into an eight-hour day.
“Just the other day one of my head teachers had to comfort one of our student’s who was dealing with some family issues,” Mr FitzSimons said.
“She was with this girl well after the end of the bell. She wasn’t just sitting with that girl but engaging with her, cheering her up, feeding her.
“My deputies are talking to parents at nine o’clock at night and they’re answering emails at 5.30 in the morning.”
The Australian Education Union's federal president, Correna Haythorpe also rejected the MP’s views, arguing instead that annual leave and daily hours were “dictated by the reality of education across Australia”.
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