Relief teaching is challenging yet essential role. Relief teachers play a vital role in the smooth running of any school and are often asked to fill in at short notice, to take classes in almost any subject area - often with students they don’t know; and the role comes with absolutely no job security. Presently there is a massive shortage of relief teachers with high school relief coordinators and deputies reporting that they often need to make over a hundred phone calls to find enough relief teachers to cover staff absences. The competition between schools for a shrinking pool of relief teachers is staggering.
As the general teacher shortage has reached crisis point, schools have had to use many of their reliable relief staff to fill long term vacancies and even permanent or contract positions. It is not uncommon for relief teachers to have multiple job offers at the beginning and end of each term. When combined with the increasing number of relief teachers who have also left the profession to work in other areas, good and reliable relief teachers have become invaluable and hard to find. Staff forced to perform lowly paid internal relief to cover teacher absences know all too well the value of good relief teachers.
Relief teachers are usually called into a school at very short notice and often face a hostile reception from students who expect to be able to have an easy time without their regular teacher. They often are forced to create lesson on the run and provide a satisfactory educational experience for students who dthey do not know and have little understanding of the dynamics of a particular class. They are often unaware of a school's behaviour management systems and can be loathed to use it because of the implication that they cannot cope and may not be called backto a school. All in all, it is not an easy gig.
When you consider relief teachers do not receive the same entitlements as other teachers including holiday pay, sick pay, short leave, long service and bereavement leave, relief teaching is not a lucrative financial option. Even if a relief teacher works every day of the year they still find themselves many thousands of dollars behind their full-time counterparts. If you add to this the fact that many find it difficult to access professional development and training, the lot of a relief teacher is not as easy it initially appears.
The union is active in protecting the rights of relief teachers. Your membership gives you full SSTUWA rights and responsibilities and includes our complimentary journey cover insurance which will come in handy if you have an accident traveling to school.