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What can schools teach us about workcover?


chalk and talk



There is no doubt that teachers have a tough gig. Their job is half child carer, half family counsellor, half sports coach, half office administrator, and that’s before their actual fulltime teaching work. And yes, my teachers taught me well enough to know that that adds up to three full jobs, but that sounds about right to me.

Stress and mental health injuries are a growing concern.

How does that play out from a workcover perspective?

Well there are some interesting stats.

In Victoria, the industry rate for primary school education in the public sector has hovered around 0.8% – 0.9%. That’s better than the scheme average of all industries, which is 1.272%. However, it’s much worse than primary schools in the private sector. Almost double. Private sector schools are around 0.4% – 0.5%.

Some might think that teaching secondary schools would be easier, since teenagers already know everything, but WorkCover premiums tell a different story. In the public sector, the rate is 1.172%, which is more than double schools in the private sector, 0.52%.

So why is it that public schools have much higher WorkCover premiums than schools in the private sector?

When I’ve spoken to people about this, they’ve said, well you’re comparing apples with oranges. A private school in South Yarra or Camberwell will be very different from a public school in Broadmeadows or Dandenong. That’s probably true. I’d like to know though, is a private school in Broadmeadows or Dandenong very different from a public school in a similar location.

When they look at NAPLAN results, ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment And Reporting Authority) compare ‘similar’ schools using the ICSEA value. The ICSEA value is a measure of ‘socio-educational advantage’ and is based on student family backgrounds. Factors like parent’s occupation and education level are taken in to account.

There are private schools with high ICSEA values, for example Camberwell Grammar, has a score of 1195 (where 1000 is the average). Some private schools have low ICSEA scores, for example Penola Catholic College in Broadmeadows has a score or 970. Government schools also contain a spread. Balwyn High has a score of 1124, and Dandenong High has a score of 914.

If socio-economic factors are important in student achievement, could it also be a factor in health and safety performance in schools?

Oh, and while I'm here, I should put a link to this awesome poem by Taylor Mali, illustrated by Zen Pencils


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