School officers reflect on 25 years
This year, 12 school officers are celebrating the milestone of 25 years membership.
The strength of our union relies on members such as these who take pride in their profession and who continue to contribute to our collective voice.
School officer members Bev Pearce, Michelle Mugliett and Louise Lowe explain what has driven them to remain active and dedicated members of our union.
Feeling supported as a school officer
Bev Pearce has worked as a tuckshop convenor, special needs aide and library aide for more than a decade before working solely within the library at St Thomas of Villanova Parish School for the past 15 years.
Image: above, Bev Pearce; bottom left, Michelle Mugliett; bottom right, Louise Lowe.
Bev said she believed in the benefits of being an active union member as she sees the value and benefits that a collective voice brings.
“I believe that you shouldn’t feel comfortable letting others fight for your working conditions and not be supportive both financially and idealistically,” she said.
Bev said school officers play a vital role in schools by helping to bridge the gap by working individually with children and following through with teacher-initiated programs.
“After the teacher, school officers are a constant in students’ school experience due to the one-on-one interaction they share.”
Though Bev is employed term-time and has her wage annualised, she said the employment conditions school officers face can be challenging.
“Because of the nature of the limited hours, uncertainty of permanent hours and the job being term-time, school officers can have issues with finances including unpaid holiday time. If school officers were offered playground duties and these hours were banked, this could be paid to them to cover holidays.”
Being recognised for the work school officers do
Louise Lowe works as a school officer within the Prep classrooms at Marymount Primary School.
She said she originally joined our union as she recognised the support and advice that was available to her if she needed it.
“There have been times when I have had an issue or even just an enquiry and our union has always been excellent with their support and advice. I would not work in a school without belonging to our union,” she said.
The main change Louise has seen in education over her career has been the increased workload issues for school officers without adequate recompense.
“There are not enough hours in the day to do what is expected of us, as every school officer in Prep starts early and finishes later than they should to help the teachers… without any more paid time in which to complete tasks.”
She said the most rewarding part of her role was working with young children and making them feel safe and secure in her classroom.
“The first year of school is crucial. If a child doesn’t feel happy, secure and welcome then the next 12 years may not be the best for them.”
Appreciating the benefits of union
Michelle Mugliett works as the Information Services and Resources officer at St John’s Primary School in Mackay.
Michelle said all school employees should be a member of our union to appreciate the many benefits available to all members.
“By being a member there is always guaranteed support for members should issues arise in the workplace,” she said.
Working within the library, the school officer has seen many changes to schools over the years.
“From typewriters, card cataloguing to computers, iPads and eBooks: school library staff have always adapted with changing demands. Thankfully, all the technology in the world does not replace the most exciting feeling that is experienced when seeing, opening and holding a brand new book for the first time.”
The role school officers play in schools are more important now than ever, she said.
“With over-burdened and suffocating curriculum demands, school officers’ support plays an integral part and one that is ever in demand.”
This article was extracted from the May 2018 edition of ConneXions.