The latest Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 Australian Report found that Australian teachers continue to work longer hours and spend more time on administrative tasks compared to teachers in other countries.
The report, which noted that Australia also has high instances of bullying among students, noted that the same trend follows when it comes to intimidation or verbal abuse of teachers and staff, with 12% of principals reporting that such incidents occur in their schools at least weekly.
This is way higher than the OCED average-30 and the TALis average- 47 figure of only 3%.
Educators have been clamoring for the Federal Government to intervene in the past, but in the meantime, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has only made pledges to work on the issue.
Despite the higher rates of bullying, 97% of Australian teachers agree or strongly agree that teachers and students usually get along with each other in their school, with 99% of these respondents also saying that their students’ well-being is important.
This figure fares well with the OCED and TALIS average of 96%.
Teachers struggle with discipline
Respondents also reported the noisiness and disruptiveness of Australian classrooms. According to the report, 78% of teachers’ time is spent on teaching and learning, with the remianing time used for classroom discipline and adminitrative tasks.
Eighty percent of primary teachers said their students make an effort “to create a pleasant learning atmosphere” while only 70% of lower secondary teachers said the same.
Only 33% of primary teachers said they lose a lot of time due to students interrupting the lesson while 29% of lower secondary teachers shared the same concerns.
But the time spent on teaching is lower in classes with students from socioeconomically disadvantaged homes as well as in classes taught by teachers with five years and less of teaching experience.
Those teachers who reportedly have a greater lack of discipline in their classrooms also felt less confident in their teaching ability, leading to them spending less time on actual teaching and learning.
The lack of discipline and the teacher’s inability to control their students also affect the use of cognitive activation practices.
The report noted that teachers could not frequently “give tasks that require students to think critically, have students work in groups, and ask students to decide on their own procedures for solving complex problems.”
Federal Government’s response
In response to the TALIS report, Minister Tehan said that the Federal Government has started a review “to cut red tape for teachers so they can focus on teaching and not paperwork.
“We are also developing a ntional strategy to address abuse of teachrs and school leaders,” he said.
"I’m also working with my state and territory counterparts on a national teacher workforce strategy that will help us understand and respond to existing and future challenges”.
Minister Tehan said the Federal Government will also establish a national institute to build a strong evidence-base to help improve teaching practice.
“We’re going to make better use of the data we collect to drive improvements in teaching practice, school systems and our policies,” he said.