Teachers’ union responds to government’s national campaign

Teachers’ union responds to government’s national campaign

Australia’s peak teachers union said while it welcomes the Federal Government’s $10m advertising blitz to increase enrolments in teacher training, slashing workloads would do more to keep educators in the job.

The Australian Education Union’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe said nine out of 10 public school principals across the nation reported teacher shortages this year, almost double the number in 2020.

“The Albanese Government’s own figures show demand for secondary teachers will exceed the supply of new graduates by 4,100 between 2021 and 2025,” Haythorpe said.

“The number one issue driving teachers from the profession is unsustainable workloads. Only 13% of public school teachers say their workload is manageable and one in five leave within three years of entering the profession.”

Haythorpe said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese “needs to do much more than launch advertisements.”

“He needs to honour the government’s commitment to end the underfunding of public schools,” Haythorpe said. “Investing in teachers and public schools is the only way to ensure we can recruit and retain the teachers we need.”

‘Retention payments’ needed for Victorian teachers

The AEU’s Victoria branch says while it welcomes the Federal Government’s $10m advertising blitz to increase enrolments in teacher training, a retention payment from the Victorian government would do more to keep existing teachers in the classroom.

“Teaching is a rewarding career, and we’re pleased to see investment in advertising that demonstrates and values the important job that teachers do,” AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said.

“However, the shortage of teachers, principals and education support staff is having an impact on Victorian public schools right now, today.”

Peace said while advertising campaigns can have an impact long term and are critical to attracting new enrolments in initial teacher education, measures that address the crisis in the short term are also required.

“The situation is extremely serious, with students in too many classrooms without a permanent qualified teacher. It is a completely unacceptable situation,” she said.

“The Allan Labor Government has a responsibility to Victorian public school students and families to ensure there is a permanent qualified teacher in every single classroom. This will require bold and urgent action.”

Peace says a “first step” by the Allan Labor Government should be to provide public schools teachers, principals, and education support staff a retention payment to incentivise them to stay in schools.

"There is no time to waste,” she said. "The AEU will continue to campaign for a range of bold and urgent initiatives to address the teacher shortage until the Allan Labor Government meets their responsibility to ensure every public school student has a permanent qualified teacher at the front of their classroom.”

‘Fancy TV commercials won’t fix teacher shortage’

The Greens say that while 98% of public schools remain underfunded the new government advertising campaign to encourage people to pursue a teaching career will do little to reverse the mass exodus of teachers from the profession.

“If Labor’s advertising campaign encourages more people to consider teaching as a career, and to remind the community of the vital role that teachers play in society, then that’s good – but what awaits these new teachers when they enter the classroom?” Greens education spokesperson Senator Penny Allman-Payne said.

“A lack of resources and support staff, mountains of paperwork, and a workload that is impossible for many teachers to sustain.”

Allman-Payne said teachers are leaving the profession because of “appalling conditions” and “not being able to do the jobs they love”.

“If the government wants to attract and keep teachers in the classroom it needs to make sure they have the resources and support they need to actually teach. Because right now, only 1.3% of public schools receive the bare minimum funding they need,” she said.

Allman-Payne said that with the new National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) due next year, and Labor in power federally and in every mainland state and territory, “there has never been a better time to end decades of decline and fully fund the public education system.”

“Every public school in the country must be funded to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard at the start of the next NSRA, in January 2025.”