170 high calibre teachers to help struggling schools

170 high calibre teachers to help struggling schools

Schools across Australia are welcoming 170 new high calibre teachers as part of a successful professional development program that aims to tackle the nation’s worsening workforce crisis.

Federal Government modelling from March 2022 predicts that 50,000 teachers are expected to permanently leave the profession between 2020 and 2025 and that STEM-qualified teacher shortages could affect up to 70,000 students annually by 2030.

Recognising this, Teach For Australia (TFA)'s Leadership Development Program has been helping staff needy schools with high quality teachers who are skilled across a vast range of subject areas.

Starting from this term, the influx of new teachers is being welcomed into secondary schools across Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and – for the first time – NSW this year, with a focus on the areas where school workforce needs are greatest.

Since 2010, the program has attracted over 1,450 new teachers to the profession and positively impacted more than 531,258 students at over 276 secondary schools. Alumni data reveals 84% continue to teach and lead in schools or work with other education-focused organisations after finishing the two-year program.

This year's cohort also brings diverse perspectives from at least 46 different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and skills and expertise from 19 different industries – with nearly two-thirds (63%) coming as career changers who bring additional professional experience to their new teaching job.

TFA CEO Melodie Potts Rosevear said 65% of the 170 new ‘Associates’ have relocated interstate to serve areas most affected by teacher shortages and 40% are qualified to teach various STEM subjects.

“Crucially, as Teach For Australia only partners with schools with an ICSEA below 1,000, we know these teachers are going to the areas where they are most needed and will aid in reducing education inequality for students across the country, while supporting dedicated teacher workforces already serving these communities,” Potts Rosevear told The Educator.

“These STEM Associates often bring with them fantastic industry experience that can offer a valuable ‘real-world’ perspective to the broader school community. They've worked as bridge builders, marine biologists, environmental scientists, and more.”

Potts Rosevear said this experience, “and often the professional maturity that comes with it”, puts TFA associates in “a fantastic position to add value in classrooms and staff rooms, supporting senior school leaders from day one”.

“With this professional experience often comes a skill set and Bachelor's qualification that focuses on a specific STEM field that schools may otherwise not have offered,” said.

“In some instances, it has been the addition of a TFA Associate with this qualification and experience that has enabled specialist subjects such as Agriculture, Specialist Maths, or Mechatronics to be introduced or reintroduced to a school.”

Potts Rosevear concluded: “For students with an aptitude for STEM subjects, these opportunities with a subject specialist can ignite a passion that sets them on an entirely new path.”