Anglican Schools Commission
The Teacher Crisis
The Teacher Crisis
The Revd Peter Laurence OAM, Chief Executive Officer
Drama is best kept inside the performing arts classroom, not in an Anglican Messenger article, so I will stick to the facts, and leave our passionate creative drama teachers to their professional craft.
Australia isn’t facing a teacher shortage; we are living it right now. For years we’ve known that the teaching workforce is ageing and the numbers graduating from university and going into schools is declining. All at a time when the Australian population continues to grow, especially through migration.
The National Teacher Workforce Characteristics Report of December 2021 prepared by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is deeply concerning. It identified that the average age of teachers is 46, and that one in six teachers are approaching retirement. One quarter of teachers intend to leave the profession before they retire; half of these within the next ten years, the largest number being teachers in their 30s.
Put simply, Australia does not have enough school teachers. “Houston, we have a problem.”
A major problem pre-pandemic, it is even worse today. COVID-19 has led to many teachers exiting the workforce early, especially in the eastern states.
Over the many years I’ve had the privilege of writing for Anglican Messenger, you’ve read repeated references to teaching in an Anglican school being a vocation… and it is.
For those of us who call ourselves Christian, we truly believe God calls us to serve in this most noble of professions. There is no greater privilege than educating and caring for the young.
You may think that Anglican schools in metropolitan areas or larger regional centres would have less of a challenge attracting teachers than say their government counterparts in rural and remote locations. That is partially correct. However, even our urban schools find the task of recruiting teachers a challenging one. The problem is exacerbated in some learning areas, where fewer and fewer people are graduating with qualifications to teach. For many years this has included mathematics and the sciences, as well as languages other than English and some more ‘boutique’ subjects. Today it spans almost every learning area.
So what are we going to do?
There is no ‘one solution’. Certainly, making some funding-assisted places at university may help, but government funds are limited. Bringing teachers from overseas would supplement our current workforce, but that takes time and navigating the immigration bureaucracy and caps. For some years, programs and courses have been in place which fast-track people from other professions and trades to become teachers… as a nation we have the potential (and need) to do far more in this space. Marketing campaigns may help to promote the desirability of teaching as a vocation. Of course, ensuring that our schools are desirable and safe places to work, and that teachers’ employment conditions are attractive and appropriate is key.
Finally, you can help by praying for people to train as teachers. An encouraging word to a young person to consider teaching as a vocation could make all the difference.
Whether it’s student still in school, or someone later in life who may be looking for a new challenge, teaching is the best job in the world… and Anglican schools are great places to work!