New research from the Monash University shows that as much as 71% of Australia’s educators feel underappreciated in the classroom and struggle with excessive workloads.
According to NSW Secondary Principals’ Council president, Craig Petersen, 2020 is a year in which the teacher shortage will become critical.
“It is not unique to NSW, but is also impacting on other schools, both government and non-government, across the nation and also internationally,” Petersen told The Educator.
So, what can schools do in 2020 to address this important issue?
According to Tyson Wood, Company Manager at Smart Teachers Australia and Tes Australia, attracting and retaining teachers and school leaders requires a holistic approach.
“It’s important to keep in mind the high degree of responsibility placed on today’s teachers, and how these factors contribute to the teacher shortage,” Wood told The Educator.
“When there is more demand and less supply, great teachers have more options and more room to negotiate”.
Wood said that as recruitment processes evolve, schools benefit by communicating a clear sense of purpose, a sense of community, and an emphasis on teacher wellbeing.
‘Retention begins with a staffing strategy’
PeopleBench – a workforce analytics and research company in the K-12 education sector – provides leaders in the sector with the research, insights, tools and confidence to make well-informed decisions about their school workforce.
Drawing from her years of experience in the education sector, Dr Vicki Cameron, PeopleBench Chief Education Officer, said the most common reasons teachers leave the job are increased workloads, poor pay, loss of autonomy, a lack of support and a lack of respect and appreciation for the teaching profession.
“In addition, many early career teachers are leaving the profession as they are unable to secure a permanent position, often experiencing multiple short contracts in difficult schools with limited support available,” Cameron told The Educator.
“In my opinion, schools should be more cognisant of evidence based human resource strategies. Retention begins with a staffing strategy and robust recruitment and selection processes”.
Cameron said this will ensure the most suitable quality teacher is appointed for the school context and culture.
“Following this, research suggests that early career teachers are much more likely to be retained if they are given comprehensive induction programs, support from peers and ongoing effective mentoring for between one and three years,” she said.
“Improved pay and/or non-monetary compensation such as extra time for preparation and marking, are other factor schools should be taking into consideration when it comes to improving retention”.
To do this, Cameron said schools should make greater use of supply teachers to support teachers during busy times.
“If teachers are supported, they will feel valued, if they feel valued, they are more likely to be retained,” she said.
Cameron said that in the year ahead, PeopleBench’s work will become increasingly important as the supply and demand of teachers is unevenly distributed across Australia.
“We will support school leaders in hard to staff locations to establish workforce benchmarks with their peer schools and develop a staffing strategy that is heavily focused on attraction,” she said.
“PeopleBench’s work with school leaders in locations where supply is far greater than demand will be equally supported to help school leaders benchmark their workforce data to develop staffing strategies that ensure they have a competitive edge and focus on becoming an employer of choice”.