Alienation among relief teachers servicing Government Metropolitan Primary Schools

Document Type

Journal Article


Institute for Educational Research - NSW,NT,SA & WA


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education




Lock, G., & Lunay, R. G. (2006). Alienation among relief teachers servicing government metropolitan primary schools. Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 171. Available here


Research suggests that the relief (substitute) teacher should be viewed as an extremely important educational resource. Reviewed literature spanning the better part of twenty years indicates that in parts of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, many students spend as much as one full year (or more) of their K-12 education having curriculum delivered to them by these individuals. Unfortunately, the literature also indicates that many relief teachers are still viewed by many as less than "real" teachers in terms of perceived competence, skill and capability. In addition to this, the existence of a number of pervasive, enduring systemic problems has been identified as being present in the educational systems of the above three regions, which have been seen to impact negatively on the relief teacher, making the difficult job they do, even more arduous. There is reason to hypothesise that as a result of exposure to these problems, relief teachers could be expected to suffer from feelings of alienation and further "disconnection" from tenured colleagues, and that this may further marginalise them from the rest of the greater educational community. Research which attempts to further explore this issue has recently been completed in Western Australia. The study was qualitative in nature and utilised semi-structured interviews as the main data-gathering tool. Twenty relief teachers servicing Western Australian government metropolitan primary schools were interviewed. The findings of the current study showed conclusively, that feelings of alienation exist among the participants. Ninety five percent of the cohort identified feeling alienated as a direct result of working as relief teachers at Western Australian government metropolitan primary schools. This paper summarises the major findings of that study. (Contains 5 figures.)

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