The Age reports today on the continuing industrial dispute affecting school camps in Victoria. The dispute is over whether teachers should receive time off in lieu for every hour they spend on school camps. According to the article, “The Australian Education Union has taken the Andrews government and the Department of Education and Training to Fair Work Australia, accusing them of reneging on a hard-won improvement to working conditions for teachers, who were last year awarded hour-for-hour time in lieu for attending school camps.”
The article also focuses on the importance of school camps as an educational and developmental experience for Victorian students, many of whom missed out on camps during the Covid lockdowns, and now may miss out again.
The value of school camps has been strongly supported by parents in our online survey on this issue, which has been running since last year. Many parents commented on how school camps have helped their children develop confidence and independence, and exposed them to challenges and experiences that parents aren’t able to provide. For more details on what parents have said so far, see below.
The following interim report from survey results was published in our newsletter Parents Voice in December last year.
School camps under threat – your view
We reported in our last issue about the threat to school camps and excursions caused by unfunded changes to teachers’ conditions.
The Age covered the issue recently in an article on 28 November.
We’ve had over 100 responses to our parent survey, and the interim results are clear:
- Parents overwhelmingly value camps very highly. 88% said camps are “very important” and 9% “important”, a total of 97%.
- Parents are very clear on the benefits their children have gained from their experiences on school camps; 84% nominated “increased confidence” as a benefit, closely followed by “social development” and “New experiences that broadened their horizons”. Quite a few parents emphasised the word “independence” in their comments.
- Over 90% of respondents supported PV’s call for increased funding to cover teachers’ time-in-lieu entitlements, with many other responses expressing qualified support.
- Only 19% said their school has requested any form of payment in advance for camps in 2023, with a majority of those indicating their school is taking payment by instalments.
We also invited open comments in the survey. Here are just a few of them:
- My school has cancelled all camps for the foreseeable future.
- School camps should be equally available to all students… Do not make the have/have not gap widen further.
- Camps must continue and teachers deserve Time in Lieu as they are leaving their own families to support our children
- As a parent I know how important school camps are for students development and confidence and as a member of my child’s school council I know how tight public school budgets are….
- It will be schools and students who experience disadvantage that will be most impacted by this.
- The government really needs to step in and provide proper funding for education – teachers, other staff, resources, buildings, everything – and stop treating schools like businesses. Principals should NOT be spending time fundraising for essentials
- This is a holiday experience for some of our vulnerable children who may not ever be exposed to this type of learning environment.