Liberal MP calls for teachers to have fewer holidays
A LIBERAL MP has caused uproar by suggesting teachers should work more and take fewer holidays.
Andrew Laming, the Federal MP for Bowman in Brisbane's eastern suburbs, made the comments while criticising the breadth of school reforms proposed by David Gonski in his report on educational excellence, released on Monday.
Mr Laming said teachers would have a stronger negotiating position if they "regularised" their working week to 38 hours and their holidays to four weeks per year, like most other workers, reported Fairfax.
"Teaching needs to operate like other jobs, with the same hours, days and weeks as the rest of the economy, rather than cluttered school hours where there it is little beyond the face-to-face time," he said.
They shouldn't work from home unless they are paid to do so, he said. But critics have said the MP has no idea about the realities of the working life of a schoolteacher.
Teachers do indeed get four weeks' paid leave which they must take when school is out. However, they are generally not compelled to attend school when students are away, even if they are not on annual leave at the time, and can instead work from home.
"This is completely unquantified, invisible time. There is just no evidence that the work they are doing at home makes any difference, and there's no evidence that what they do at home is actually where you'd want a teacher focusing their efforts," Mr Laming continued.
The MP did acknowledge that some teachers go "above and beyond" but said work should be done at school, not at home.
Mr Laming has form when it comes to questioning the work ethic of teachers. In January 2017, he asked on social media: "Are teachers back at work this week, or are they 'lesson planning' from home? Let me know exactly."
The teachers at my son's NSW State public school work bloody hard. They don't need insults from half-arsed Liberal Party backbenchers - especially Laming, whose chief claim to fame is his ability to drink a can of beer while standing on his head. https://t.co/KAR3dICd68— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) May 1, 2018
If teachers worked 38 hours per week as suggested by Andrew Laming, the education system would crumble into a chaotic mess within a week. So much for Laming’s lament about visibility.— Alan J Wright (@alwriting) May 1, 2018
Teacher bashing is a favourite occupation of some Liberals. @TurnbullMalcolm usually defends them (He has a teacher daughter). Laming obviously knows no teachers.— Margaret Brennan (@mmbrenn) May 1, 2018
If teachers did no work from home the educational system would be in crisis. And they do work during the holidays.
His comments were slammed by the opposition and teaching unions.
On Twitter, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek widened the criticism to the Prime Minister.
"Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals: defending banks, attacking teachers."
Broadcaster Mike Carlton said the teachers at his son's school worked "bloody hard".
"They don't need insults from half-arsed Liberal Party backbenchers - especially Laming, whose chief claim to fame is his ability to drink a can of beer while standing on his head."
The latter referred to a stunt the MP pulled on Australia Day 2014 when he did, indeed, skol a beer while performing a handstand. Twice.
The Australian Education Union said teachers' hours varied and "were dictated by the reality of education across Australia".
Many teachers say they work more than their contracted hours during term time as they couldn't complete their day-to-day tasks if they didn't. They also perform unpaid extra-curricular activities like sports coaching or drama classes.
Others on social media noted how few weeks parliament sits each year and questioned how much time MPs spent in their offices.
According to the NSW Education website spruiking the profession, "teachers enjoy an enviable work/life balance and attractive working conditions".
The organisations states: "In addition to four weeks annual leave, there is no requirement for teachers to attend school during student vacation periods.
"Additional leave entitlements include leave without pay, parental leave, long service leave (after seven years' service), carer's leave and study leave, to name a few."
In January, Mr Laming charged the taxpayer more than $13,500 for his wife and daughters to accompany him on a week-long trip to the Northern Territory, including business-class flights, reported The Australian.
While it was within his entitlements to do so, the sheer amount raised eyebrows.
"Remote policy work is part of the job; in this case attending a literacy launch to preserve indigenous language and understanding the unique challenges of remote welfare quarantine," he said at the time.