A PORT Macquarie teacher has told a NSW inquiry into the value of the profession that the evolution of education must acknowledge and resource for the complex needs of individual students.
Amanda Leach presented a submission as a member of the Port Macquarie Teacher's Association to the Valuing the Teaching Profession - An Independent Inquiry in Sydney on November 9.
She is one of several teachers from the Mid North Coast to give evidence at the inquiry since it began in October.
The chemistry teacher of 30 years said it is time to move away from the "one size fits all" classroom model. She said the use of technology in the delivery of learning has also presented its challenges and opportunities, with accessibility for students and training for teachers in digital applications a priority.
"Since the last inquiry in 2003 a lot has changed. They are wanting us to show how we have value-added to our workplace in that time. It has been quite an interesting process," Ms Leach said.
"While I had some quite clear ideas in my school-based submission, when I was asked about my own personal experience in the classroom my thinking really shifted.
"It made me stop and think about what I've been doing personally.
"Things have changed a lot. I've been teaching for 30 years. When I first started I had this idea of what I would be able to do and then when you get out there that wasn't quite the case. It's a great profession and you're never bored.
"We come across all sorts of students on a day to day basis and the impact that we have is an important role in this day and age."
Ms Leach told the inquiry with more students presenting with complex needs, more time is being spent on lesson preparation to incorporate teaching to meet the needs of those students.
"It isn't a one size fits all anymore, there's a lot more individual teaching that needs to happen to support them," Ms Leach said.
"I'd like to see a reduction in the face to face teaching hours we do so that allows more time for that preparation and planning.
"I also have a lot of ongoing contact with parents as well because it's so important to understand what is going on at home because it definitely impacts on how the student operates in the classroom."
This would mean a commitment to more permanent teaching positions across the state and an investment in infrastructure, such as needs-focused learning spaces in all schools, to be effective.
"I often say we're getting more square pegs we are trying to put into round holes and we know what can work. It's about getting the correct resources, additional teachers and the physical room for those classes with alternate learning options available for students.
"It's a system-wide response rather than an individual school response."
The inquiry has received more than 1000 submissions and heard from experts about how the work, skills and responsibilities of teachers and principals have changed since the value of teachers' work was last examined almost 20 years ago.
Headed by former WA Premier Geoff Gallop, the inquiry has reconvened this week for a final four days of hearings with teachers and principals taking centre stage.
Teachers and principals from a range of educational settings will give evidence about the impact of unprecedented change on their work over the last 17 years.
"When it comes to teachers and principals, the rhetoric of the NSW government does not match its actions," NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said.
At a COVID press conference on Thursday, August 20, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "teaching is one of the most valued occupations on the planet".
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell reinforced this on World Teachers' Day thanking teachers for their dedication and support for students."
"However, that dedication and value was quantified by the Treasurer at zero to 1.5 per cent. That's how much the teachers and principals of this state are valued by this government," Mr Gavrielatos said.
"Evidence before the Inquiry has been compelling showing that the wages of teachers and principals have declined dramatically over the past decade as a result of the state's regressive industrial relations policies.
"Teachers and principals need a competitive salary when compared with other like professions and they deserve a hell of a lot more respect than they've been shown by the government.
"A competitive salary is particularly important in the context of the 25 per cent student enrolment boom expected over the next 20 years. We need a competitive salary in order to attract and retain teachers in the numbers required to ensure a qualified teacher in front of every classroom."
The Gallop Inquiry will report findings next February.