We all know our teachers are overworked and underpaid, but according to Dr Phillip Riley of Monash University’s faculty of education, the early career exodus from teaching in Australia has reached epidemic proportions.
According to a report in The Educator, up to 50 per cent of new teachers have left their job before the fifth year.
That’s leaving the job; the profession. Not moving schools or furthering their education by returning to university – they leave their profession.
When observers forecast that technology would improve teaching and learning techniques, they didn’t see that these very technologies have had a significant impact on their declining morale.
Two reports released late in 2014 list the pressures on the teachers. The Principle Health and Well-being Survey conducted by Monash University focused on the growing job complexity and lack of support while the report by The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) drills-down on the startling fact that almost eight per cent of all teachers are teaching subjects they weren’t trained in.
Leaving the overworked and underpaid song book alone for a moment, another issue facing the profession is the over-arching theme for our entire population; the issue of aging. It would appear that within the next 10 years up to 125,000 teaching positions will need to be filled by new graduates as up to half of our teachers will have reached retirement age.
Over at ACER, they found that the number of teachers aged over 50 had increased while the number under 30 had decreased. The average age of Australian teachers is 43.4 years, compared with the OECD average of 42.9 years. For principals the average is 53.2 years compared to 51.5.
It wouldn’t appear that there is a solution coming soon. Rhetorical discussion aside, our curriculum continues to change, and with our federal government wholly focused on university fee deregulation the states are left “holding the bag”. By association, these smaller governments will butt heads and continue to petition at federal level.
Associate professor Carol Reid from University of Western Sydney, in writing for the ACER website believes we should focus on importing teachers.
“Many overseas-trained teachers are encouraged to move to Australia, and do so in the belief that our country is in desperate need of teachers and that their skills will be in high demand,’ she said.
The way things are going, she is not wrong.