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Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Schools

Relief teaching contributes to the lives of students

Bree Hartfiel working as a relief teacher St John's School, Roma

Relief teachers have always played a vital role in school communities, enabling continuity of learning for the over 9,700 students enrolled in the 31 schools across our Diocese.

Currently, Toowoomba Catholic Schools are looking for relief teachers to fill relief roles in our schools.

These roles offer qualified teachers the flexibility to take on work to match their lifestyle and the opportunity to continue to make a difference in the lives of students and staff.

Jim Brennan, Principal of St John’s School in Roma says that relief staff are regarded as part of the school community.

“At St John’s School, you will feel like you are part of a team. You are critical to the implementation and delivery of curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities as they allow staff to attend professional development opportunities, whilst also releasing staff to attend important events with students,” said Jim.

Bree Hartfiel has worked as a relief teacher across both Toowoomba and Brisbane Catholic Education Dioceses since 2016, after the birth of her first child. She is currently working as a relief teacher as St John’s.

Bree’s husband is a FIFO worker, meaning he is away for weeks at a time and being able to fit relief teaching around their home, work, parenting and family commitments for the last seven years has been very valuable for their family.

“As a relief teacher, you get to set your own teaching schedule and workload while still 'belonging' within a school community. Relief teaching is incredibly rewarding; building rapport with a wide range of teachers and students within a school, as you tend to teach across all grades and subject areas,” said Bree.

“By entering the classrooms of many different teachers, I also feel that I am constantly adding to my ‘teaching toolbox’. In each classroom, as a relief teacher, you experience a wide variety of teaching styles and interpretation of routines, resources and curriculum.”

“I feel like I learn something new, that I incorporate into my personal practice, each relief teaching day! If you are looking for a flexible working schedule, while still enjoying the fulfilment of teaching, relief teaching work may be for you,” said Bree.

Steve Warren has also been a relief teacher after working as both a teacher and principal in Toowoomba schools for close to forty years. He hasn’t thought of retiring completely, but a redirection and the flexibility of choosing when he wants to work as a relief teacher is very appealing.

“Relief teaching provided the perfect choice for me. I felt I still had much to offer and started my work back where I started all those years ago - in the classroom. The role of the relief teacher is crucial in schools to ensure continuity of program delivery, when inevitably teachers need to be absent,” said Steve.

“Concluding as a principal at the end of 2018, the 2019 school year started my new role as a relief teacher across a number of schools, many of which form part of the Toowoomba Diocese. I commenced with a one-day contract at Mary MacKillop Catholic College which I completed for two years, and I also covered a few short-term contracts in some schools and a number of single days. This was a great step down in commitment, as I readjusted my future workload, yet a most enjoyable one.”

“I have been happy to travel from Toowoomba to some of the smaller regional schools which often find it harder to find relief staff including St Patrick’s School in Allora, St Francis de Sales School in Clifton, St Stephen’s School in Pittsworth and St Monica’s School in Oakey. Due to their size, some of these schools have multi-age classes, but detailed programs are always left to support the visiting teacher and I have also found ‘the teacher next door’ and the many student helpers willing to lend a hand and support where needed,” said Steve.

“You soon become a part of these school communities, not just ‘the relief teacher’, but as a valued staff member, quickly getting to know all students, staff and even many parents. The morning greetings from students asking if you are with their class today, always make you feel welcome and having been invited to end-of-year events adds extra joy to the role.”

“I can thoroughly recommend to all teachers, who have stopped working on a permanent basis, to share, on a casual basis, their passion, skills and talent with students,” said Steve.

If you are considering relief teaching click here to complete an online application form.