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Naomi Simson younger years school

Schools are major employers – and how their employees speak about them effects their brand reputation too.

I’ve listened to two very different stories from teaching professionals in the last week (not from my kids schools). I am regularly inspired by my teenagers educators; the dedication teaching takes. It is a gfit, a great calling – a privilege. I marvel at the energy and persistence it must take to inspire our young people to achieve their best.

Our educators create our future.

The first story relates to a friend at my dinner table who complained vociferously about the high-profile, high-reputation private school at which he teaches. As someone passionate about employee engagement, I was both horrified and fascinated. Is his employer aware of how unhappy he is? Worse, do they not realise the impact such disappointment has on their employer branding? He is overloaded and struggles to find hours in the day to manage the required compliance. This administration doesn’t stem solely from the school, but also from the Australian government departments responsible for education.

He came up with a solution: to start work earlier. An acknowledged morning person, getting to his desk ahead of 7am he not only avoided a high-traffic commute it also made him more focused and productive. He could keep up with the admin, maintain his lesson plans – and start his teaching day fired up due to the sense of purpose and accomplishment it gave him.

Yet, in a sense of bureaucracy rather to outcomes focus, his employer can’t allow him this flexibility. If a pupil happens to come on the school campus early, at the same time as when this teacher will be tucked in his office, and the pupil has an accident, or worse, acts with malicious intent, the teacher and school could be held responsible.

Now, teachers do an absolutely amazing job and we should support them as much as possible. But why has the onus of responsibility tipped so far to them? Are we charging too closely to a nanny state?

Surely an argument can be made that a pupil should not be on the school premises unsupervised, outside of expected school hours, so anything that befalls him or her is the responsibility of the individual, not the school.

If we want an engaged, committed, enlightened, responsive next generation, isn’t it time we supported our teachers better? Invested rather than cut funding. Reduced the red tape so they could actually spend time teaching and inspiring. We need to tip the balance back.

How are your teachers supported in your community?

(PS the photo is from my school days – can you spot me? – The year that Miss Stawjsky took me under her wing- who saw me bigger than I saw myself – and I would not be here today – without her love, dedication and commitment.) This article first appeared as part of my LinkedIn Influencer Collection.

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