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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d knock an article together about teaching in South Australia. Here it is. Only keep in mind that I cannot guarantee everything I’ve said as systems and policies tend to change frequently. I hope people will find it useful and if there are any other Teachers out there who visit this site, I’l be more than grateful for your input and especially to point out where I may have made a Boo-Boo or two. :hug:

This article is of course by no means complete, and I'll add addendums as often as possible.




My objective with this article is to give prospective teachers from overseas (especially from a South African context) an overview of the systems, policies and procedures that impacts on the recruitment of teaching staff in Government Schools in South Australia.

The information contained in the article is bases on my own experience since 10 years ago as well as current systems and policies of recruitment to Government Primary and High Schools in South Australia.

I will make use of abbreviations such as:

*SA South Australia

* DECS Department of Education and children’s Services

* TRB Teachers Registration Board of South Australia

* SACSA South Australian Curriculum, Standards and Accountability Framework

* SACE South Australian Certificate of Education (The equivalent of the South African Matriculation certificate.)

* TRT Temporary Relief Teacher

* PAT Permanent Against Temporary Teachers (Teachers who a re permanent but are not attached longer than 1 year at a school.

OHS&W Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare

* Uni University

* AEU Australian Educators Union

* Metro Adelaide Metropolitan Area (For DECS purposes it can be roughly defined as a radius of about 1 hours drive from the city centre – thus for example places like Nuriootpa in the north, Murray Bridge in the west and Aldinga Beach in the south are deemed within the Metro area.)

Your first move to teach in SA - The Teachers Registration Board (TRB)

Your very first move will be to get yourself registered as a Teacher in SA with the TRB. Their website is at http://www.trb.sa.edu.au and is very easy to navigate through.

They are the people who will evaluate your qualification in relation to SA standards and expectations.

The minimum qualification is a 4-year course at a UNI or college of which at least one year should include an educational qualification. Examples; a 4 year educational diploma, A 3 Year Uni degree followed by a 1 year post-grad educational diploma/certificate. Your qualification should also include a period of practical teaching. They also look at your time and nature of previous experience as a Teacher

You also need furnish the TRB with Police Check and it may be also a good idea include in your registration application testimonials/referees in respect of previous satisfactory service and good professional conduct. In respect of a criminal record each case is reviewed on its own merits. If the nature of a previous will not have an impact on one’s ability to teach (e.g. poaching), you will be registered to teach either provisionally or unprovisionally. However, people with previous convictions i.r.o. Drugs or crimes in respect of children e.g. child sex/pornography, need not apply. The latter are two very big NO-NO’s in SA Education.

Prospective teachers in SA are also required to attend a 1-day course in Mandatory Notification. This course revolves around child protection and all teachers in SA are subsequently “Mandated Notifiers.” In a nutshell this means that all teachers and other educational workers are compelled by law to report any abuse towards children to relevant authorities. If you want to register before you arrive I believe that the TRB may register you provisionally, on condition that you attend a Mandatory Training Course as soon as possible after arrival.

Also note that you cannot lodge an electronic application. The TRB requires hard copies and all attached documents MUST be certified true copies of the originals.

Note: I needed to have my certificates, testimonials etc. translated from Afrikaans into English 10 years ago. I simply translated the documents myself, asked a Commissioner of Oaths (e.g. SAPOL) to certify the translations and the Oz High Commission, TRB and DECS accepted the documents as such. (I submitted copies of both the original Afrikaans and translated documents.)

[u]Your application with DECS (Education Department)

Your next move will be to get yourself registered on DECS’s database as an Employable Teacher. Visit their website at http://www.decs.sa.gov.au and follow the links/pages to staff/employment/recruitment to obtain application forms or to download it from the site. It is a long time since I had anything to do with this aspect and I would assume that you can furnish certain required info such as TRB registration details electronically, e.g. your TRB Reg. No., will serve as proof to DECS of you being adequately qualified, having done Mandatory Notification Training and being Police-cleared of serious relevant previous criminal convictions.

The main focus of your application to DECS is the way you address the Person Specification part of the application. It is divided into sections that deal with your experience, knowledge, beliefs, classroom practice and views of Occupational Health, Safety & Welfare. The later revolves around how you practice OHS&W in both your classroom and the wider school community, and in a nutshell it includes making sure that your teaching and practice takes place in a way that is safe for all involved on physical and psychological levels.

The main curricular system in SA is the SACSA system. This curricular system leans to a large extent on Constructivist Theory, and it is advisable that you obtain some info about this to use in, and support your application. Visit http://www.sacsa.sa.edu.au to obtain info on South Australia’s curricular system as well as some info in Constructivist Theory. I strongly suggest that you check the SACSA companion document out to understand the Curricular stuff. (Let me know if you need help in this respect.) If you were not trained in Constructivist Theory it is not really a big issue in your application, just make sure that you demonstrate in you applications that you are aware of it, that you read and reviewed it off your own bat and how to include it in your classroom practice. (There are heaps of websites with lesson plans etc. along constructivist lines.)

The crux of your application should be to demonstrate to the DECS recruitment personnel that you are an employable Teacher in your specific field, e.g. Primary, Junior Primary, Middle School, High School subject areas etc.

Once you are accepted by DECS as an employable teacher you will receive your “Authority to Teach” document which will contain relevant information about you as a Teacher in your field. You will need this document as soon as you start to look for work at schools.

Starting out as a Teacher.

Now, how do you get a job as a Teacher in South Australia? The far majority of applicant would want to become permanent as soon as possible. There are a few different “roads” to permanency and I will deal with a few here.

1. You can start as a TRT by registering at schools as a TRT. TRT’s are called in by schools to work there on a daily basis, mostly when a Teacher absent for a day or more. (The pay is about AU$340.00 per day.) Policies and industrial awards dictate that when a teacher at a school is absent, a TRT must be employed to take her/his class. As a TRT you start to obtain a “foot in the door” at schools. Now you start to get chances to demonstrate to schools that you are a reliable person who can be depended on. Due to student behavioral profiles in SA, one of the first things that you will have to demonstrate is your ability in class and student behaviour management.

A note of advice: It may be better to a bit of a Dragon at first laying down strict & clear boundaries from the start. Be friendly and nice, but don’t be indecisive or too liberal. If the kids ‘walk’ over you the first day you will have problems in the future.

I also strongly suggest that you try to arrange with a school or schools that you work as a volunteer in a classroom at the very beginning in order to observe experienced teachers at work. The ideas and mindset that you pick up in this way is invaluable. (If I have to do it all over again I would do it this way to avoid a few mistakes that I would rather have forgotten!)

I further suggest that you contact DECS to enquire about its annual course for beginning teachers and teachers returning to the profession after an absence.

Once you have established yourself as a TRT, you should start to obtain contracts to teach at schools anything from a term to a year.

2. The next step up from TRT work is when you start to get contracts. This may range in time frames from 1 term to 1 year. Unfortunately you are never guaranteed contracts, and it boils down to building up credibility at schools and hoping when a contract becomes available, you will be the first one they contact. Therefore you find a lot of teachers having contracts and TRT work on and off. Some people don’t mind it, others hate it.

3. Permanency is the status most teachers strive for. At the moment the procedure is that during two rounds per year vacant teaching positions are advertised on DECS website, probably at;


The playing field in this respect has become much more even during the last year or two.

Nowadays anyone that is eligible, e.g. an employable teacher, may apply for any position anywhere, but there are still some snags. You need to have referees in your application, which you can only obtain by being a constant TRT at schools or a contract teacher. Schools also tend to expect applicants to have certain skills related to teaching, e.g. First Steps Spelling or Managing Extreme Behaviours, that you can only obtain by being a contract teacher, or a permanent teacher for that matter. The most sought after positions are those in The Metro area as well. There are other “short-cuts” to permanency and in a nutshell they are: (1) When vacant positions are advertised to go for positions at ‘hard-to-staff’ schools. If successful you are going to deal with some extreme behaviours in and outside classrooms, but you will be permanent. (2) Another more popular method is to accept a posting in country location for a specified time. You will be appointed permanently on condition that you remain in that country position for a specified time. I obtained permanency through no. 1, but a lot of people obtain permanency through no. 2.

The best is to check with DECS about this, as specific policies for specific areas changes constantly

If you are not into teaching very challenging kids that much it may a good idea to focus on the ”in between” schools. These are the school don’t have too many challenging kids as well as the schools in the more well to do areas. (The honest truth about schools in the more well to do areas is that they know that they are in demand as worksites, therefore they tend to boost their applicant profiles.)

Miscelaneous Info

Teachers new to Adelaide sometime ask where are the ‘nice’ schools and where are the challenging schools. There are no hard and fast answers to this as any school anywhere may have its fair share of challenging kids at any time. Also keep in mind that at time parents could be quite challenging as well. I am aware of a incident where a teacher had to shoo two mums away from his classroom as they were on the verge of starting a catfight there and then.

A good rule of thumb, however, if you want to fathom what a specific school might be like from a teachers perspective or a parents perspective is to visit a school’s website and check what’s their Level of Disadvantage Index. Schools are indexed on a continuum from 1 – 7. Your more ‘nice’ school will be indicated as a disadvantage level of 6 - 7, maybe 5 - 7. The more challenging schools will have a disadvantage index from 1 - 3. Also network with other teachers or people who may have the info that you want. You’ll often get your best info from people who taught as such schools or who had kids in such a school.

Be careful of where you accept a TRT, Contract or Permanent position. Adelaide does not have a ring road system and you would not want to be further than 30 – 40 minutes’ drive away from your work site.

You are not required to coach sport after school in the South Australian system, and an upside is that you have your weekends to yourself, very different to the South African system where more often than not you were cruising into the “ verre vlaktes en velde” with a mini bus full of kids. That is one aspect of The South African system that I really DON’T miss.

Be careful of your interaction with kids in general. In some school you may find yourself on the red carpet if you spoke to some recaltricants in a too loud voice. Also, a parent watching through a window alleged that a teacher was bashing a kid – the truth was that she gave the kid a light pat on the head for doing good work. Also try never to be alone with any kid as it may lead to “funny” allegations as well. We live in a world where the mass media have exposed much in the way of child abuse etc. and at times it seems as if there is some sort of witch-hunt going on. These things are by far in the minority, but some stuff do happen and it is the best to protect yourself, e.g. never touch any child in any way, check your tone of voice when you speak to kids.

In general, in my experience most Aussie kids are OK. They need some getting used to, as they grow up in more liberal minuet that their Saffer peers. Don’t let the term “liberal” confuse you here in Oz. Most Aussie parents raise their kids along liberal principles wherein they infuse a strong dose of responsibility and choice theory – “Look, my boy, you can make any choice you want, but if your choice impacts badly on others, you’ll face consequences!!!”

Unfortunately there are those who equate a liberal education with “let nature’s waters flow over nature’s acres.” They are often the ones who when their wheels really start to come off, will shop around for a state school with sound behaviour management systems and go and enroll their kids there hoping others will succeed where they have failed. Thats why some schools with a disadvantage index of 5 sometimes resemble a school with a disadvantage index of 3.

Consider membership of the AEU (Australian Educators Union) The AEU is an excellent organisation to belong to and they support members to the hilt in disputes relating to stress in the workplace an any problem that you may encounter in your professional duties. Check out their website at www.aeusa.asn.au Don't equate them with RSA based unions, they are definetely NOT in the same league - they (the AEU) don't want to disrupt systems, they support and improve it.

Edited by Dax
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  • 2 months later...

This is just a reminder for any aspirant teachers in South Australia that visits this site.

If you would like to lodge an application for a teaching position, you should start to visit DECS's Staff - Vacancies website, as the annual application exercise has started.

Those of you who are in contract positions, this is a cahnce to land a 10 year "sentence" :lol::ilikeit: at a school.

If you are still on TRT try to give it a go as well.

If you are registered but have not done any teaching yet, you could apply as well, but be sure to do some thorough homework of the schools where you will lodge applications. It is important that you KNOW what you let yourself in for, especially with "hard-to-staff schools.

There is a portal on the DECS website that links to the website of every school in South Australia, and I suggest you follow those links in order to get some first hand info about schools that you are interested in.

A simple rule of thumb;

Look at each school's index of disadvantage.

It ranges from 1 - 7. The Challenging schools are indexed 1 - 2, and maybe 3, while the "nicer" schools are roughly indexed at 5 - 7.

If thing are not clear to you contact me, or find out who is your recruitment contact person (if you are already in the system)

Good luck, :whome:


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