Although written with the Northern Territory in mind, teachers and school support staff everywhere should be recognised and intrinsically appreciated for their contribution to the profession.


The Department of Education and the Northern Territory Government tend to take service somewhat for granted. I believe that it is important for teachers and school support staff to be recognised for their service.

Interestingly, those working for the Northern Territory Police, Fire , Emergency Services, and some sections of the Health Department are recognised and appreciated with service awards. That generally doesn’t happen for educators.

I have been told that a service recognition system would be too hard to organise because of the number of teachers and support staff working in NT Government Schools. A simple database maintained by the Education Department’s Human Relations Section could be set up to record details about staff service. As particular time anniversaries come up, a simple prompt could alert the system manager to the service anniversary. The level of recognition offered should align with the number of years of completed service.The system would be maintained if staff transferred from one school to another, because of its central administration.

It should be relatively straightforward for schools to be linked with our department through an application that would recognise service. That recognition if in the school’s system, could easily transfer onto the department’s main frame.

There is a popular belief that teachers and those working in schools come and go with unfortunate regularity. Many believe that educators have only short term commitments to their school roles. From the 1970’s through to the 1990’s many came for no more than two or three years before heading back to southern states. However, this has changed and people are now coming for much longer periods. Many are making the Territory their permanent home. People deserve recognition and appreciation for long term professional commitment.

In the past

A number of years ago the Department of Education began developing a program to recognise years of service. The plan was to acknowledge those who had given ten years of service, with further recognition to be forthcoming at five yearly intervals. However, with staff turnover and the succession of people operating at the highest levels within our Department, this determination seems to have lapsed. Changes of government may have played a part in these plans being shelved.

Some consider that this level of appreciation is not very important. That is just not true.

Service recognition needs to be revisited. It is not good enough for teachers and education support personnel to remain unrecognised and unappreciated after years of devotion to their profession. This is a matter that needs urgent attention.

FOR POLITENESS SAKE – Uphold and Model Respect and Good Manners

These days, manners are not practised by habit. Many children (and adults) are poorly mannered. It seems that a big percentage have never been taught the rudiments of good manners at home. Child care programs may try but their prime focus is on minding, not on teaching.

All too frequently children overlook ‘excuse me’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’. ‘i beg your pardon’ and so on. Although it gets monotonous, correcting students who overlook these essences of politeness and good manners is important. Commenting in a praising context to children who do remember to use these words and expressions can offer positive reinforcement.

One of the most frequent oversights occurs when children butt into conversations being held by teachers with another student or students. That impetuosity certainly needs correction. Children need to appreciate the need to wait their turn when dealing with teachers.

Manners can be broached through appropriately constructed lessons. To involve students in situational role play where manners need to be practised can help. Periodic classroom discussions about manners and politeness might be useful.
The subject could be broached through a Socratic Discussion session.

Strategies to reinforce the need for good manners including reinforcement through daily classroom interaction should be part of teaching and learning strategy.


Teachers and educators are right to accept responsibility for the matters of student development that come under their jurisdiction. The trouble is that more abd more of that developmental responsibility is being hand balled by Governments and by parents, to schools and educators. Educators in turn have been rather short-sighted, in seemingly inviting more and more responsibility for the upbringing and development of children and young people. That is like saying to parents and primary caregivers, “have you another monkey (responsibility) that I can own?”

I believe in holistic education, but not in parents flick passing their parental undertakings to schools. We are foolish in loading up with more and more. That acceptance of developmental burden is less and less appreciated and more and more expected. We therefore contribute to education being a thankless and burdensome profession.

Educational partnerships between home and school should be about cooperation and balance. The scales seem to be increasingly uneven, weighted against schools and staff.


Worry, anxiety and depression are big factors in today’s world. They are recognised and talked about in ways that used to be taboo. ‘Taboo’ because to discuss them was deemed to be a sign of weakness. These days people do open up about mental health. It is an issue considered as relevant in many settings, including educational platforms. To be aware and to take mental health into account is important.

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We are made increasingly aware of challenges children and young people face in modern times. The relatively uncluttered and unhurried times of the past are gone. Children of today are being brought up in an increasingly frenetic world, one that has the potential to confuse and cause them concern.

The nurture of children is about far more than providing food, shelter and clothing. It is about spending time with them and being part of their developing lives. With parents and caregivers heavily committed to work, this can take a great deal of juggling.

At the end of long working days, parents come home exhausted. Many collect children from care centres on the way home. When they walk in the front door, there are domestic chores to confront, meaning young people are left to look after themselves. Television, videos, computer games, Facebook and texting take over minding duties while parents attend to household tasks. Countless studies confirm that prime time spent by parents talking with their children is minimal.

It is important that parents share conversation with their children. Girls and boys need to feel part of the family circle with opinions and ideas that are heard and respected. It is through conversation that parents get to know and understand their own young people. Sharing time also helps children gain confidence in their parents.

Avoiding Sad Outcomes

Concerns about bullying, together with worry, anxiousness and feeling they are not important family members can lead to depression – a growing phenomena among young people.

Common signs of depression among children in the years up to puberty can include:
* a prolonged sad mood
* a loss of interest in normal activities such as playing and games
* withdrawal both at home and school
* uncharacteristic behaviours such as stealing or bullying
* tiredness, particularly in the afternoon
* sleep disturbance
* bed wetting. ( the above dot points from an online source)

Key school programs

The Department of Education (DoE) encourages schools and school communities to be aware of issues that confront children socially and emotionally. More and more, schools are involving with “Kid’s Matter”, “Mind Matters”, and “Bullying No Way” initiatives. These programs offer life building skills.

“Kids Matter … is a flexible whole school approach … improving children’s mental health and wellbeing (in) primary schools.” (, home page) The program aims to build respectful relationships. It’s focus is on the following:
* Developing a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for children at school and home.
* Supporting social and emotional learning.
* Working with parents and carers.
* Offering individualised support for students needing help.

‘Mind matters’ is a similar program. It supports Australian secondary schools to promote the mental health and well being of older students. (, home page)

‘Bullying No Way’ has been established to help make teachers, parents and students aware of bullying’s insidious impacts. Bullying, be it physical, verbal, online or in other forms can have devastating impacts on the lives and confidence of those on the receiving end. It is far too common and cannot be ignored. (

Young people have a right to healthy bodies and strong minds. They need to be aware of their part in building a sound future. However, things may not work out the way they should if school and home do not play their part. Educators as secondary carers and parents as primary caregivers are obligated toward helping children transition successfully into an adult world.


Some schools embrace support offered by retailers, while others figurativelty shudder with abhorrence.  Is there a right or wrong position to take on this issue? In the end it is generally left to each school to consider the matter.


There are pros and cons about programs such as Woolworths ‘Earn and Learn’ initiatives. Some believe these activities to be an unfair trading ploy. Others see this as no real issue, preferring to subscribe to the benefits of the program.

Schools are increasingly in need of resourcing. Funding only goes so far. It often seems more materials are needed than school budgets can afford. This adds to the appeal of programs like Woolworths ‘Earn and Learn’.

Not New

These school support programs were introduced in the late 1980’s. Coles ‘swap dockets for computers’ was one of the first. In an agreement between the retailer and Apple Computers, students were encouraged to collect shopper dockets. At the end of the promotion, these were exchanged for Apple 2E computers, printers and other hardware.

This annual promotion lasted for several years. In order to collect dockets, students did everything from foraging in rubbish bins to organising weekend car washes. Cars were cleaned in exchange for dockets.

In the years since, both Coles and Woolworths have offered sponsorship to Australia’s schools through rewarding shoppers. Coles most recent support was in the area of physical education equipment. While Coles sponsorship seems to have been discontinued, Woolworths are maintaining their ‘Earn and Learn’ program. There has been a significant change this year, with $10 of expenditure being necessary to earn each point.

Redeeming products

Redeeming points for goods throws up some revealing cost interpretations.
* An Aussie Rules senior size football costs 732 points or $7,320 worth of shopping.
* A small Aussie Rules child’s football requires 218 points, $2180 worth of shopping.
* Plastic stack chairs range in cost from 732 points ($7,320) for a 26 cm chair up to 1832 points ($18,320) for a full size chair.
* A round table and four chairs, ideal for classroom group work will set the school back 5865 points, making the cluster worth $58,650.
* One iPad shockproof case comes at 1612 points, $16,120. A set of ten cases requires 12,098 points, $120,980 of shopping at Woolworths.
* A bag of 12 tennis balls costs 548 points, or $5480 in shopping terms. That equates to 45 stickers ($456) for each ball.

Resources that can be redeemed cover the spectrum of educational needs from text books and art materials to sports equipment, but the price is high. At $5 per sticker the redemption price was steep. At $10 for each one point sticker school community expenditure will need to be astronomical if schools are to gain significant benefit. However with schools experiencing ever tightening budget controls, every bit of support helps.




School days are busy days. There are few spare moments available to consider and attend to matters not directly focused on teaching and learning. Tight timetabling means that teachers and their classes have very little time that is not devoted to predetermined activities.

Because of teaching and learning pressures, it can be easy to overlook fundamentals that contribute to character development and the establishment of good habits. Teaching and learning outcomes are important. However attention needs to be paid to appearance, tidiness and general order of classroom and school. Without these considerations poor work, study habits and civic attitudes can develop. Important priorities and personal habits can be discounted. Among the things that should be considered are the following.

• Desk tidiness should be encouraged. This includes desk surfaces and storage area for books and other items. Setting aside a few minutes every day or two to make sure students desks meet a standard pays dividends. It also ensures that children are quickly able to find things they need for upcoming lessons.
• Student lockers and bag recesses need periodic checking. All sorts of things from discarded clothing to rejected food items can finish up in these places.
• Many students eat lunch inside or just outside classrooms. If duty teachers check before lunch boxes are returned to bags or refrigerators, paper, plastic wrappers and fruit peel will go into the bin where it belongs. This may not seem like much, but it reinforces hygienic practices.
• Organising a “monitor roster” of students to take responsibility for keeping areas of classrooms and learning spaces tidy can work. This might include benches, ledges, library book displays, the floor, wet areas and so on. It’s not a case of cleaning up after others but reminding everyone of their need to contribute to classroom care.
• Spending a minute or so at the beginning of each break to make sure everything is off the floor and that desktops are tidy, establishes a good cleanliness habit for all children. Reminders may be necessary but with time and consistency good habits will develop.
• Common areas including toilets and the schoolyard, verandahs and the school library deserve care from everyone. Duty teachers, the school leadership team and indeed all staff should be part of this effort. General tidiness is also an area that might involve the Student Representative Council.

For tidy school programs to work well, all members of staff need to contribute. For instance, teachers’ tables and personal storage areas in classrooms and elsewhere should be kept in the way that sets an example to all students,

Tidiness is an attribute we all need. With it, generally comes personal organisation which helps the way in which school facilities are used and shared. Tidiness is a habit that will be useful throughout life.