Saturday, 13 April 2013

Transport issues in Melbourne

A new road safety plan is being voted on this week in Melbourne, and I couldn't agree more with what the council is hopefully going to change here. We came to the conclusion very early on in our move here that pedestrians are the lowest on the travelling food chain. It can take an absolute age to cross at lights, you often have to wait in excess of 5 minutes, and if it is a particularly wide street you can barely make it across before the light changes again.

Very few of our friends here don't have a car. We are the minority, whereas in London it was the other way around. Public transport is ok, but obviously nowhere near as comprehensive as in London. I am lucky that my train journey to work is pretty easy, but a major factor in deciding where to live was how I would get to work. Originally I wanted to live closer to the beach, but working in Ivanhoe (north-east) makes that pretty much impossible - it would probably take me about an hour and a half each way to get to work if that were the case. As it is  I make it about 50 minutes door-to-door, which is about my limit.

At the weekends we are often frustrated when we try to get anywhere on public transport. There are very few trains south of the river, and so you need to rely on trams which are slow as they are in the same lanes as the cars. We are trying to cycle more, but frankly I don't trust the drivers here yet - I'm not convinced they are aware enough of cyclists yet! There are some good bike paths in places, but unfortunately they are pretty inconsistent at this point (I actually miss the bright blue Boris cycle highways!) I am not surprised so many people drive everywhere here, as it's so frustrating to walk, cycle or take public transport.

But it seems the council are aware of these problems and will hopefully pass legislature to give pedestrians priority over cars in Melbourne's CBD. As Councillor Oke is quoted saying "no city in the works is designing their city for increased car travel". Main points being addressed are:

  • Cut waiting times for pedestrians at busy crossings
  • Widen footpaths in pedestrian heavy areas
  • Consider giving cyclists and trams a head start at lights
  • Encourage cyclists to ride in the middle of the road to avoid being squeezed between tram stops and traffic
The issue of traffic combined with lack of public transport and safe cycle lanes is one of Melbourne's biggest downfalls to us. These and other changes would hugely improve what it is like to get around the city as a pedestrian or cyclist, however I still think the city has a long way to go in order to encourage people to take public transport or cycle instead of their car. 

Full news article here

Monday, 8 April 2013

Permission To Teach

When we decided to move to Melbourne we knew it would be difficult for mrwandymcnoble to get a job teaching here. The reason is that he qualified via the Graduate Teacher Programme (GPT) in England, which is not recognised as a valid teaching qualification in Australia.

The GTP is a work-based route into teaching, which means you spend your training year as an unqualified teacher working in a school on a reduced timetable, and learn on the job.

In order to work in any school in Victoria, even independent schools, you must be registered by the Victorian Institute of Teaching (information of registration here), but of course the VIT won't register those with a GTP qualification.

There is a loop-hole of sorts, called Permission To Teach (PTT). PTT allows an "unqualified" teacher with teaching experience to teach in a school for up to 3 years, however in order to gain PTT a school who is willing to hire you must apply with you. Schools must prove they can't find a registered teacher to fill the post before going through PTT, so as you can imagine a school would normally rather just hire a VIT registered teacher.

Last week mrwandymcnoble went to a job interview and the school does want to hire him to cover a 3 week sickness leave starting next week, which could turn into a maternity leave that starts in Term 3 (July). However, the PTT application takes 4-6 weeks to process so won't be ready in time for him to start the job next week. So frustrating! We are still waiting on the school to see what they decide, crossing our fingers that even though he probably can't do the sickness cover, they will still want him to do the maternity leave in Term 3. Cross your fingers for us please!

Anyway it is all a bit stressful, but at least we know that there are schools out there willing to go the PTT route. The most annoying bit is that in New South Wales unregistered teachers can teach in independent schools. So if we had decided to move to Sydney he would have had a much better chance of finding a job. But I suppose that is a very unhelpful way of thinking!

Easter Holidays!

Hooray for school holidays! I've got through my first term of teaching in Australia, and let me tell you I was no where near as exhausted on the last day of term as I normally am. A good sign, however I must keep in mind that it was a short term, only 8 weeks (due to Easter being so early this year) and next term will be much longer at 10 weeks. The longest I've ever had to teach without a break, eek!

Anyway, last weekend was Easter weekend and we had a lot of fun catching up with some new and old friends.

Good Friday we went for a long bike ride with Team Olympic Dreams, probably the first time we have all rode together since our 5am Richmond Park Ride. Actually it was the first time I've got out on my bike since we moved here and it felt so good! I am now re-determined to ride my bike to work, at least once or twice a week. We'll see how that goes next term...

We followed the Yarra River north-east all the way to Abbotsford where we passed a farm and waterfall (not quite as exciting as it sounds). If you follow the Yarra you will eventually get to Ivanhoe and quite near my school, however it is extremely windy and is about 20km each way, which is too long of a commute for me!
Saturday we drove to Port Phillip Island to stay the night with some new friends: Alan, Dan and Laura (I'm actually not great with coming up with nicknames for everyone so I'll probably just end up using real names from now on). Dan and Laura were lucky enough to have been lent a house to stay in by friends of theirs, who also generously told them they could invite some friends to stay at well. The house was gorgeous, right on the sea, a perfect beach house that you would aspire to have one day! We had a nice relaxing stay there and would like to return at some point to see the famous Philip Island Penguins (although they are the same ones we have already seen in St. Kilda).

Beach house by the sea

Port Philip Island

Sunday we had lunch with Andy's friends from uni, Pete and Elle, who have just had a baby! Poppy is so cute and lovely and probably the best dressed baby we've ever seen. That's what happens when both your parents work in fashion!

Andy has been practicing his baby skills: holding, rocking, pushing the buggy, and seems quite enamoured with baby Poppy. I am glad he will be ready when we finally decide to have a little mcnoble of our own!

Andy and Poppy