I foolishly got caught up reading a stupid 'public or private' school debate on Facebook (never read the comments, people). I was offended on behalf of the excellent educators at my child's school when I read someone's comment that because the private schools teachers were paid more, they were more dedicated.
I went to a private school. I opted for public but had some fears, which quickly proved unfounded. Here is what I have found. Once you hit year 9 (some of you may know the homework becomes an issue in year 9 for some kids who grow too big for their teenage boots), I had a number of teachers ringing me every few days so that an issue in April was resolved by parent teacher interviews in June. The marks that had dropped to an all time low in April were back up in 80%+ in that short time and back in the 90's by the end of the year.
Last year I made a passing comment at the parent cocktail party to a teacher who my child had for Science in Year 7 and had again in Year 10, mentioning there'd been a lack of handing in homework the previous year and she should feel free to call me should it appear to happen again. An assignment was due the day my child was off competing in a Regional, and due to a technical error, the teacher hadn't received the assignment. She rang me at 9.40 to ask me about it - a brief discussion later she worked out it had gone into the junk folder, however, I was impressed that 7 months later she'd remembered our brief conversation and acted on it in such a timely fashion.
When the children perform in plays or concerts, there are many teachers there, even though they aren't required to be there as it isn't their subject. They clearly like these children, and have a genuine interest in them and their achievements.
At parent teacher last year, I was ticked off quite sternly by a Maths teacher for trying to push my child into a level of maths that would not suit them. The fact that she felt the need to put my child's best interest ahead of pleasing the parent meant a lot to me. And she was right. She knew my child's ability better than I did.
The teachers knew my child well enough to ask questions on their subject selection like "You know that class is at 7.30 am. Will you be able to make that work?" (even though my child arrives on time, mornings are not their strong suit) and "You know you'll have to give a lot of speeches. Will you be okay doing that?" At one point in the queue for an interview, a teacher came over and chatted to my child then handed them a usb. Curious, I questioned it. The teacher was the careers advisor, the usb was music that he thought my child would like to play in their garage band - it had stemmed from a conversation they had when organising the work experience. These things are all small, but reflect how engaged they are with my child.
After the Year 9 parent teacher, I wrote a letter to the school about how impressed I was at the dedication of the educators. Very few even needed to look up my child's marks to know their progress. They challenged my child to improve. They were open and frank and in the class where the homework had been lacking, the teacher focused solely on the rapidly improved mark and how there was still plenty of room for improvement now that the work was being done.
The school offers amazing sport opportunities, overseas trips and ski camps. It offers all the normal debate, photography, orchestra as extra curricular but so much more. You as a student are encouraged to decide what you want to do and get the clubs in motion. Facilities are made available and teachers, of their own good will, commit themselves to help make it happen.
As we head into the HSC, I'll get a figure that gives my child a score on their education. However, I believe a lot of schooling is up to the child and what they choose to do with the opportunities offered. Regardless of the mark we get, I have no regrets for the choice I struggled with all those years ago, I think it's been a successful education. I can't fault the teachers and for my child, it's been an excellent place for those formative years. I don't believe they would have got a better mark elsewhere and I'll never know if they would have been happier elsewhere with other teachers and students, however, I think school has been a good experience for them, they've always happily attended and they've been stretched and given responsibilities that have helped them grow.
I agree with the comment that public school teachers are underpaid and public schools are underfunded. It is a disgrace what the government has done to the educational system. However I strongly disagree that the teachers at public school aren't dedicated. From what I've seen, and my own personal experience, these teachers are dedicated despite the lack of pay, and perhaps that makes them focus on the child as an individual all the more. I'm not saying public school teachers are better than private school teachers. I'm sure private school teachers go the extra mile too. I'm merely defending the faultless dedication of the educators in the public system, based on my personal experience.
To the public educators that have to put their hand in their own pocket for chalk, that stay longer hours to help at the homework club or study help, who listen and engage with the kid going off the track, who watch the performances, who give up their free time to help with an extra curricular club, who make public school a better place for all, I salute you. You tireless effort does not go unnoticed.
Linking with #MummyMondays