Australian Education Union members across Bendigo will be dressing in red this week to campaign against excessive workloads and to improve wages and working conditions.
Bendigo public school teachers, principals and support staff joined the campaign on Tuesday which will seek a new Victorian Government Schools Agreement (VGSA).
AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace met with Bendigo teachers.
She said excessive workloads for principals, teachers and support staff must be addressed by the government in a new agreement.
"Bendigo government school teachers, principals and support staff are overworked and underpaid," she said.
Ms Peace said teachers in Bendigo public schools work an average of 15 hours of unpaid overtime every week while principals work up to 55 hours per week.
"Each year, every government school student in Victoria receives $1,384 less funding compared to public school students in all other states and territories," she said.
"It is teachers who have to make up for the funding gap."
Ms Peace said the union's latest State of our Schools survey had highlighted that many teachers felt stress and burnout over the past year.
More than 10,000 teachers, principals, and support staff responded to the survey - 251 were from Bendigo.
The results showed that over 40 per cent of teachers were regularly thinking of leaving the classroom, with 90 per cent of teachers reporting that reducing workloads would help the most to retain teachers in the profession.
"We want every Victorian child to have the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. That's why school staff go the extra mile for their students," Ms Peace said.
"Despite their professionalism, exhausted teachers with excessive workloads and teaching large classes can't deliver the quality and support our children need and deserve."
Epsom Primary School principal Lyn Coulter said together with her staff, they were "100 per cent" behind the campaign.
"We need our teachers to have the time to plan and work and be in front of their classes doing the job they are paid to be doing, and that is educating our young people," she said.
"It's certainly very obvious to me that some of those things teachers traditionally are providing and doing that they just don't have the time or the energy for them these days."
Ms Coulter said "on occasions" teachers had expressed the feeling of becoming burnt out due to the workload.
The current enterprise agreement's nominal expiry date is April 30, 2021 however it will stay in place until a new agreement is reached.
A state government spokesperson said they were "continuing to have productive conversations with workforce representatives regarding a new enterprise bargaining agreement".
"We are unable to provide any further comment whilst these negotiations are taking place," the spokesperson said.
Ms Peace said the union was currently seeking a variety of changes in the agreement.
"We want to see time during teachers working week freed up so individuals can focus on their core work," she said.
"We want to see the department play a bigger role so that our principals are freed up from the administration and compliance work they have to do.
"We want time for our classroom support stuff to be given time during their paid hours of work to collaborate with teachers and parents around supporting their students in their classrooms."
Ms Peace said discussions with the state government would continue.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: