* denotes offsite or offpage links

What is a Governess?

The word governess is a very old term which has been around for hundreds of years.  It generates lots of interest when we use it in advertising.   In the modern age all people working with children from nannies to family daycarers to teachers are called Educators. 

The role of a governess is holistic as you live within the family home and business.  You employed to facilitate care and an educational program for the children

Throughout the blog and the website we use the word governess instead of educator.  Other names that can be used in descriptions are educator, home tutor, govo, govy, govie, teacher and paid supervisor. 



General Role Description:

A governess is employed by a family to help with the care and education of the children.  The children will be attending school through one of the many distance education schools around Australia (sometimes referred to as SOTA or SODE meaning School Of The Air or School Of Distance Education)

The most important responsibility is children's education but as they are living within the family they may have other duties, as you would in any home in which you live within.  Although the responsibilities of each governess vary, depending on the employer, most of the responsibility lies within the classroom.

Some of these being;

  • Supervising the children’s daily work and creating a schoolroom like atmosphere

  • Keeping the classroom neat and tidy

  • Packing up Set or Unit (1 to 2 weeks of schoolwork) to go out on the mail

  • Making the children attend and participate in assembly and other lessons

  • Reading through set work and preparing learning environment

  • Organizing a timetable to keep the children on track

Each employer has different expectations and these can be negotiated at the commencement of employment.  ALL of the duties listed on this page are acceptable to be listed on a job description, as long as they are indicated before employment or negoitated after and the salary that you will be paid to do these is indicated.  They should never be a surprise duty which is included and not listed. 

Sometimes these duties will be negotiated after employment starts are all governesses and employers need to have the flexible.  At times there will be emergency circumstances where you will need to step up to the plate at a moments notice, that too is acceptable and often unavoidable.

Governessing will make some of the best memories of your life. 
Governessing is a lifestyle not just a job.


Quote from Meri Gooding, 2002:  

Our 'other' roles as I am sure I am not the only govo who acts as co - conspirator with the kids, big sister, second mum at times, or an adult who can be told about something and help, knowing that mum doesn't have to find out!  I am stuck for examples right now, but for people who are thinking about taking up a job as a govo and there is so much more than just the teaching sides of things.  Also girls shouldn’t get the idea that they are going to be socially isolated.

Blog post from Kate Travers September 2013

A governess helps educate and care for the children in rural and remote areas. A governess can supervise any year or age however the majority of children are in primary school. The work is provided by a school of the air (SOTA) and other professionals however a governess does at times need to adjust the work or think out of the box to suit and engage the child.

Just as a child in a town school would, a SOTA student does maths, english, spelling, science, art, craft, history, geography, sight words, handwriting etc and if you have more than one student you could be juggling each student doing a different subject at the same time.

A governess, as well as facilitating the program, generally has to  liaise with teachers, parents and other members of the school community, timetable daily activities, check emails, supervise and assist students with their satellite lessons, mark the children’s work and provide daily feedback to their school of the air teacher, pack and return completed school work to the child’s school of the air teacher implement behaviour management strategies.

Outside of school hours a governesses role can very greatly and it is important to remember that no two governess jobs are the same.

Jobs may include, but are certainly not limited to; caring for students and or younger children out of school hours, helping with chores (feeding chooks, dogs, poddy lambs, calfs, etc), helping bath kids, helping with meals, helping clean up, doing outside work (mustering, yard work, etc), taking the children places when in town or to town, and others will only have to do jobs related to schooling.

At times life on a station can be busy and things can change quickly. You may be needed to watch the kids if mum and dad are suddenly required, you may need to cook a meal or get smoko/lunch ready, you may need to suddenly go to town with the family.

Governesses are often fed by their employers and in return should be at least offering to help with jobs associated with meals such as; setting the table, unpacking and packing the dishwasher or doing dishes, putting things away, wiping benches and tables etc. Governesses are responsible for keeping the schoolroom and their own living quarters clean and tidy.

A lot of governesses are included as part of the family (some kids when asked to write about their family will list the governess as a member) and governesses will often attend family functions or events the family are invited to. Governesses are  often many different things to the kids -partner in crime, friend, school teacher etc. and some families and govies are lucky enough to be in contact many many years down the track.

Governessing is a lifestyle not just a job but it is hugely rewarding and enjoyable. You will learn many many things about life and about yourself and you will most likely meet some awesome people and do things you have never even dreamed about but that is all apart of the fun.