Top school flies the flag for teachers all across Australia

Top school flies the flag for teachers all across Australia

This article is sponsored by St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School

With the education sector gripped by a teacher shortage, one Queensland school is assuming the mantle and encouraging new graduates to join, and those already in the profession to stay. 

St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School in Ascot, a suburb of Brisbane, wants to lead and elevate teachers both at a local and national level, which is one of the factors in it being recognised as a winner of The Educator’s 5-Star Employers of Choice 2024. 

Principal Ros Curtis says, “The stronger our teaching workforce, the better educated our society will be, and that has enormous effects on generations of young Australians. Given the current teacher shortage, now more than ever teachers need to be encouraged to join and stay in the profession.” 

This is underlined by St Margaret’s Centre for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CeTLe), of which some programs are open to not only its own staff but also teachers from other independent south-east Queensland schools. The centre’s Aspiring Senior Leaders Program for middle leaders is an 18-month in-house program aiming to impart broader skills along with developing the knowledge and mindset required to lead a school. 

The centre’s one-day Managing Your Career conference is aimed at teachers transitioning into middle leadership, providing strategies, examining expectations and skills and offering opportunities for collaboration between speakers and participants. 

A major issue driving the lack of teachers are worries about being overworked and undersupported and the toll this takes on an individual’s health. 

However, St Margaret’s has countered this by implementing innovative policies to ensure all their staff work in a collegiate and positive environment. 

Their annual staff survey, facilitated by education consultancy MMG, highlights the extent to which the school is a leading workplace. The 2023 survey exceeded MMG benchmarking data on all measures, in some cases by up to 18%. In addition, the Net promoter score when asked how likely staff were to recommend the school as an employer was +44, where a score above 23 is considered “very high.” 

“Our teachers and support staff are seen, known and cared for in a holistic manner that promotes their mental and physical wellbeing as well as nurturing their professional ambitions,” says Curtis. 

St Margaret’s has a range of initiatives across both its pillars of staff support. 

The first pillar is Wellbeing, and some of the policies include: 

  • a highly active Staff Wellbeing committee coordinating events, publishing a termly newsletter and managing a Wellbeing Hub on staff intranet 
  • random acts of kindness nominated throughout the year and coffee vouchers awarded at weekly catered morning teas for staff 
  • access to the school strength and conditioning gym and a staff swim squad in the school pool 
  • employee assistance offering external, confidential counselling service, with a number of sessions free of charge 
  • wellbeing presentations given with guest speakers (doctors, psychologists and time management specialists, etc.) 
  • gifts of appreciation when staff attend camp taking them away from their own families and personal lives for several nights 
  • a significant upgrade to the staffroom at the beginning of 2022 to assist with staff networking on both a professional and collegial level 
  • acknowledgement on World Teachers’ Day with a complimentary breakfast and small gift 

The second pillar is Professional Development, which is implemented by: 

  • staff being encouraged to pursue further study, with subsidises for Masters study and a study day per semester 
  • staff applying for annual teacher exchanges, overseas and domestically 
  • an annual innovation award where staff put forward an innovation in an area they would like to pursue, and each year, two to three staff members are given a grant to facilitate this 
  • annual staff awards awarded at Speech Night for teaching and support staff – one for teaching excellence and the other for service to the community 
  • one-day Early Career Teachers workshop to help with the development of professional identity 

Curtis says, “At St Margaret’s, we focus on both staff wellbeing and professional development as ways to ensure our teachers are both well cared for and gain professional support to enhance their teaching practice as well as their career trajectory.”