There are some great initiatives for indigenous students in Queensland schools. We have regular assemblies based on the theme of “because of her, we can”, in which we hear from an Aboriginal elder. Six per cent of our school community is indigenous and we have a school liaison officer who supports students, in and out of class, as well as running a dance group, connecting with parents and facilitating indigenous programmes (sport, cultural and academic).
Even though I have high expectations in my classes, the student pressure to get high grades is either internal or driven from parents. The majority of our students do not go to university. We cater for them by providing the opportunity to undertake traineeships, school-based apprenticeships and certificate courses while in school.
The truth is that the work of a teacher in Australia is draining. Significant hours are spent outside of the classroom to plan for a national curriculum, undertake mandatory training and meet the Australian teacher standards. The only way to manage is with team planning – there really is a lot of power in collaboration.
Sarah Matthews is a maths teacher at Brisbane Bayside State College, Australia