Beyond their primary function as centres of academic learning, schools serve many roles. They provide health services, counselling, nutritious meals, and enrichment activities, all of which contribute to a child’s development in significant ways.
But fragmented funding, recruitment challenges, and skill shortages mean that much of this work is falling not on support staff but on teachers, who are increasingly also acting as counsellors, coaches, and carers.
A national strategy for school education must address the competing responsibilities that are leaving teachers time-constrained and overworked. It should recognise that schools are a valued form of community infrastructure with a legitimate role in strengthening local resilience, improving health outcomes and reducing crime – without preventing teachers from focusing on their vital and skilled work.
It should also recognise the critical importance of education to our economy. Ensuring that every child is taught well is key to boosting opportunity and preparing them for the world of work. High-performing teachers don’t just help children to fulfil their potential – they create the conditions for prosperity and growth.