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RCSA Celebrates the work of agency relief teachers in keeping kids learning during challenging times

This world teacher’s day, RCSA would like to thank Australia’s educators for their dedication and commitment to students during these difficult times.

In particular, RCSA would like to celebrate the wonderful work of agency teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. With sudden and unpredictable changes in rules and regulations, agency teachers have been critical to maintaining educational standards for students across Australia. Throughout the pandemic agency teachers have been vital to ensuring schools continue to operate, whether via remote on on-campus learning.

Charles Cameron, CEO of RCSA says that no one can underestimate the difficulty and challenges faced by agency teachers over the past 18 months.

“The agility and flexibility of agency teachers has been nothing short of exemplary. They have been a key element in ensuring that students have continued access to education, regardless of the challenging impact of external circumstances on delivery of services and on permanent teaching staff,” explained Cameron.

“Agency teachers – also known as casual relief teachers - are the people schools rely upon when the unexpected occurs. They are the glue that holds our education framework together. Without them, there would be many days where classrooms, both online and on-campus, would be left without educators,” he said.

“They ensure school can continue when permanent teaching staff are unwell or unable to take classes. This has been more important than ever in an external climate where things are changing rapidly and exposure sites and other covid related factors intermittently impacted the availability of regular teaching staff.”

“Throughout lockdowns, schools have relied heavily on agency teachers to ensure that in addition to online services, on-campus education remains available to children of essential workers who have been fighting this pandemic on the frontlines.”

This sentiment is echoed by Daniel Mundy, Director and Founder of teaching agency Anzuk Education.

“Without the support of casual relief teachers there would have been immense pain felt by our most vulnerable students. Our casual relief teachers have continued to shine in the darkest of lockdown days and we could not be prouder of the work they are doing,” he said.

Not only are agency teachers vital for Australia’s education framework, this type of work also offers invaluable experience, training, and support to new university graduates. Many graduate teachers leave university without enough practical experience to navigate the industry and associated requirements to obtain full-time employment.

Agency teaching work through a firm such as RCSA member SWITCH Education, offers graduates an opportunity to ease into career teaching without feeling overwhelmed.

“We are the bridge between university and employment. We guide graduate teachers through the registration process, helping our candidates obtain all the requirements for work as a teacher – from clearances to work with children, first aid training and education about responding to abuse and neglect requirements,” explained Tara Staritski, Managing Director at SWITCH Education.

“Relief teaching allows graduates to dip their toe in the water of career teaching. They are exposed to a broader range of schools, year levels and education environments. This allows them to discover what they do and don’t like, while expanding their skill set in a shorter period of the time, which ultimately make them highly employable.”

On the other end of the spectrum, experienced teachers use agency work to find greater harmony in their work/life balance.

For Andrea, who has been with SWITCH Education for 8 years, relief teaching provided her a platform to get back into the industry after raising a family. She said she prefers agency teaching over full-time work because of the greater freedoms it provides her.

“The ability to work at a time that suits me gives me greater agency over my own work schedule. I can take the time off required to travel interstate to care for my elderly relatives and then schedule work for when I return.”

“It is a simple process and one in which I know that I am in control of my working life.”

This is reiterated by Cameron, who said that more and more people are seeking work that fits around life, not the other way around.

“There is no doubt that agency teaching, and agency work for that matter, is a great way to access experience and balance in employment,” he said.

“But without these people choosing to work

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