Monday, January 16, 2023

Push for more male teachers fails to increase numbers

False accusations against male teachers by female students have been badly handled in the past and few potential male teachers would be unaware of that. Being a male teacher is simply risky. Feminist demands to "believe the woman" are a part of that problem.

And it's a pity. My son had male mathematics teachers in his private High School and it inspired him to major in mathematics for his B.Sc.

Indemnifying male teachers against all the costs of false accusations might help

There has been no increase in the number of male teachers in public school classrooms, despite a push by the NSW Department of Education targeting them for recruitment into the profession more than four years ago.

Education experts said boys and girls benefit from more male teachers in schools because they were less likely to have stereotypical views about traditional gender roles, but recruiting men into a female-dominated field where teacher pay tops out after about 10 years is difficult.

The proportion of males employed in the public school system remained stagnant over the past four years, falling slightly from 23 per cent in 2018 to 22 per cent last year, according to the latest Department of Education data.

Numbers were steady despite the department’s diversity and inclusion strategy 2018-2022 which included an “obligation to address the gender imbalance in our teaching population, attracting and retaining more male teachers”.

The department’s latest move to draw more men into the profession was to use male teachers in social media advertisements and deploy them at careers fairs.

“High school careers advisers are also encouraged to promote work experience placements in government schools to male students,” a department spokesman said.

Data from the Universities Admissions Centre shows just 210 graduating year 12 schoolboys put primary school teaching as their first preference for university study this year.

That figure, which does not include students who applied directly to universities, is a 24 per cent decrease on the year before and is the lowest number recorded in the past seven years.

Schools across all sectors are grappling with chronic teacher shortages, with the federal government projecting a shortage of more than 4000 secondary school teachers by 2025. A national plan to address the shortage was released last month.

Independent researcher Dr Kevin McGrath, who has investigated the gender composition of the teaching workforce in Australia, said the pandemic and a workforce shortage had made it harder to attract and retain male teachers.

“Men benefit from a broad range of occupational choice in Australia which provides opportunities to avoid particular types of work and to seek out employment that provides more flexibility,” McGrath said.

Salaries for NSW teachers start at $73,737, and hit a maximum of $117,060 if they are accredited as a “highly accomplished” or “lead” teacher. Pay jumps to $126,528 if they take on more responsibilities and become an assistant principal.

“Male teachers face a greater opportunity cost for choosing a female-dominated profession, compounded by potential negative perceptions or ridicule for doing work performed predominantly by women,” McGrath said.

Research indicated that in schools with fewer male teachers, students tended to hold more stereotypical views of gender than in schools where male and female teachers were equally represented, he said.

University of Tasmania school of education lecturer Dr Vaughan Cruickshank said male teachers worked in a predominantly female environment and could struggle to find common interests with their female peers. He also said salary, low professional status, as well as fear and uncertainty about physical contact put men off becoming teachers.

A breakdown of the proportion of male teachers in primary and secondary schools for 2022 is not yet available, but last year men constituted 18 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of the teaching workforce in high school.

Private schools fare no better when it comes to attracting men, where male teachers made up 20 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of secondary school teachers.

“The percentage of male teachers in NSW independent schools has not changed significantly in recent years,” Association of Independent Schools of NSW chief executive Margery Evans said.


"Humane" jail is a failure: Violent

The Alexander Maconochie Centre is one of Australia's newest major adult jails and was built to accommodate prisoners from the nation's capital who previously went to NSW jails.

It is located next to a highway about 10 minutes drive from Canberra airport with the dozen or so buildings double-fenced beside a highway in an otherwise windswept open-grassed area.

Named after a prominent 19th century prison reformer, the Centre can lay claim to being 'Australia's wokest prison', the sort of jail Scandinavian countries famously design to break cycles of incarceration rather than punish.

The new jail is the brainchild of former Labor ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, who was forced to defend the cost of the $130million facility which didn't accept its first prisoners until 2009 despite being opened six months earlier in 2008.

Mr Stanhope described the Centre as 'the most human rights-compliant, rehabilitation-focused prison in the world'.

The jail is the first in Australia purpose-built to meet human rights obligations and is also environmentally sustainable using recycled water, solar power and energy efficient insulation.

With such noble aims can come a hefty price tag, in early 2010 it was reported the cost of housing an inmate at the centre was $504 per day, which was twice the amount NSW was charging the ACT to take prisoners.

Sadly the days of rosy hope have largely given way to disappointment, especially for Mr Stanhope who has become one of the jail's harshest critics calling it 'an appalling failure' and 'an embarrassment', which he blames on successive governments.

In 2019 Mr Stanhope lamented that the Productivity Commission had found that the over the last two years the Centre had 'established a reputation as the most violent prison in Australia'.

The more recent Health Prisons Report into the Centre found little evidence of improvement.

'We heard several anecdotal reports of sexual coercion and violence in the AMC,' the report said. 'We have been told that sexual coercion and violence happens but is rarely reported.'

Perhaps most galling for a jail that has the express purpose of rehabilitation are the high rates of reoffending, causing some to label it a 'revolving door' prison with the same cohort of inmates repeatedly entering and leaving.

This is especially so for Indigenous prisoners, which the jail was set up to be culturally appropriate for, with 94 per cent of released Aboriginal detainees ending up back in the cells, according to a recent report.

Mr Powsey said the prison reflects what happens in the comparatively small community of Canberra.

'In the ACT, there are relatively low crimes rates but relatively higher recidivism rates. This means that a significant proportion of the offending occurs within a smaller cohort of people,' he said.

A major failing at the jail, according to the Healthy Prisons Report, was boredom with many inmates having largely unstructured days and sometimes not getting out of bed until lunchtime.

The report was also critical of a lack of meaningful employment activities within the prison.

Almost since its beginning, the prison has been plagued by negative stories including earlier this year when a newly admitted prisoner hanged himself in a supposedly safe cell.

Senior Director Accommodation Jim Taylor-Dayus, who has a 37-year career working in UK, New Zealand and Australian prisons, said incidents were to be expected in a jail environment.

'You've potentially got 400 people who don't want to be here and they need the officers to get things, and sometimes the officer can't do it straight away or they may not be entitled to it – so, of course that causes a frustration,' he said.

'As long as you are able to sit down and say there's a reason you can't have this, whatever it is, most people accept that reason - eventually.

Both CO Veal and Mr Taylor-Dayus worked during the riot in November where 27 detainees refused to go back to their cells, leading to standoff where fires were lit and considerable damage was caused. 'It was intense, we were here for 18 hours,' CO Veal said.

Eventually the situation was resolved through negotiation.

The prevalence of drugs and other contraband, such as mobile phones, has also been an issue highlighted by official reports.

Because of the jail's relative approachability, people have been filmed throwing banned substances over the fences and deliveries have been attempted by drones.

The centre staff admitted that the coming ban on smoking inside, which complies with ACT law, would be a particular challenge.


Dawn Fraser: Dump school swim program, give money to parents

Olympic swimming legend Dawn Fraser has slammed the Queensland Government’s swimming education program, insisting the $3.7 million annual funding should instead be transformed into a subsidy to help parents pay for private lessons for their child.

The four-time Olympic gold medallist is heavily involved in her local school’s swimming program and said if some principals cannot be trusted to use the funding properly, it should go to parents to help them afford lessons through a provider of their choice.

The state government maintains swimming lessons are compulsory in all state primary schools through its Water Safety and Swimming Education program established in 2018, which recommends at least five lessons per child.

However, parents claim the rollout is confusing and inconsistent because it is being left up to individual schools and principals to implement.

Some students are reportedly only getting lessons in certain year levels, while other parents are being asked to pay extra for lessons, and it is becoming an increasingly tougher task for students in rural towns to travel to local pools to teach water safety.

Ms Fraser has seen the difference swimming lessons can make at her local Good Shepherd Lutheran College in Noosaville.

“There are a lot of principals who don’t believe in teaching children to swim,” she said. “I don’t think the state government understands the magnitude of the issue, we must teach children to swim from six months on.

“If principals aren’t going to use the money, then the government must have a good look into it, and give the money to the parents for them to use for their child learning to swim.”

In the past five years, the state government has opened 21 new schools, but none have their own pool. Statewide, only about 200 of the roughly 1200 public schools have their own pool.


Gladstone Public Hospital’s dire situation has gone on too long

Every state government endures controversies in the health portfolio. Many are largely unavoidable – for instance, the pressure on emergency departments, ambulances and hospital capacity during the pandemic.

But what is happening with Gladstone Hospital is a complete failure to react appropriately to what is a genuine crisis.

Today, The Sunday Mail reveals that healthy, expectant mums from the Gladstone region are so fearful of travelling to Rockhampton to give birth they are demanding elective C-sections.

Because maternity services at the hospital are on bypass, many mothers are being transported to Rockhampton via ambulance to give birth.

This is a town of more than 60,000 people – a town that has pumped millions into the economy over the years as a result of the resources boom.

Yet, women cannot give birth there and instead face a more than one-hour trip to Rockhampton when they go into labour.

It is unacceptable. C-sections come with risks – it is major abdominal surgery, after all.

The situation in Gladstone is now being described as a “national disgrace”, and it is hard to argue against that.

“The time for talking has passed and urgent action is needed to repair what has become a medical emergency and must surely be a source of great embarrassment to the premier and health minister of this state,” Prof Pecoraro said.

We agree. Ms D’Ath must explain how she is going to fix this situation before this crisis gets any worse.




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