Teachers soar to new heights in flying squad

Asset Publisher

28 March 2024

In the news Public school life

For more than two decades, the Teacher Flying Squad has been an ongoing source of support for regional schools.

The group of qualified teachers fly or drive to short-term regional and remote placements in schools across WA to fill urgent gaps, with assignments typically lasting between four and 10 weeks.

Teacher Flying Squad member Tiri Singh.

Flying squad teachers are responsible for delivering the learning programs for the students they teach, including planning lessons, teaching, assessing students, and monitoring their progress. 

The squad offers teachers unique experiences to explore the state and teach in various educational contexts that can vary in terms of school type, location, and size.

Department of Education Deputy Director General Jim Bell said teachers at all stages of their career join the Teacher Flying Squad.

“The Teacher Flying Squad is an outstanding opportunity to see Western Australia, and experience teaching in a range of locations and contexts,” he said.

Teacher Tiri Singh has more than 40 years of teaching experience in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

“I have been involved in the Teacher Flying Squad for more than a year. I joined because I wanted to experience the different physical and social landscapes, demographics and lifestyles of this vast land we call Western Australia,” he said.

“The biggest difference is that you must develop positive relationships with students quickly. Secondly, because one might sometimes have to teach in a learning area that one is not entirely familiar with, one is required to be resourceful and innovative.

“The most valuable lesson for me has been the knowledge that students in any setting will welcome you warmly once they realise that you are going to be an approachable person to work with. This role has also been a reminder that as a teacher, one has to be open to new learning every day.”

Penny Goodwin is in her second year of being in the Teacher Flying Squad and enjoys how varied the work can be.

“Last year I had postings from one term to one week in length. I went from Derby in the north, to Collie in the south, to Kalgoorlie in the east.

“While I was told to expect to be ready to go with one or two days’ notice, mostly I found that I was given the next posting while I was still at the last one, which gave me time to plan and organise.

“The work is essentially the same as if I were a full time teacher at the school. It is not relief work – we are expected to plan lessons, mark, and write reports. We need to learn as much about our students as we can in a short time frame in order to tailor the lessons to student’s interests.

“I think that the most important skill a flying squad teacher needs is to care for all students. To walk into a new school, and work to build rapport with the students before trying to get them to learn. To learn who they are as individuals and to try to provide learning experiences that are applicable both in and out of the classroom.”

Ms Goodwin said she finds this type of work very rewarding.

“I have learned something new at every posting, and this continues to help me better myself as a teacher,” she said.

“The experience has taught me to be flexible, to work under different management systems, and to value the experiences of staff and students that I meet.

“There are a lot of extremely knowledgeable teachers in our Education Department, and it is a privilege to work alongside them.”