Anglican Schools Commission
Where Have All the
The Revd Peter Laurence OAM, CEO, Anglican Schools Commission WA
Australia has a teacher crisis. It’s been decades in the making. Put simply, teachers are leaving the system at a greater rate than those entering. At the same time, Australia’s population is growing, further compounding the problem.
The statistics are concerning. Some 35 per cent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching (AITSL Australian Teacher Workforce Data National Trends Report, June 2023). This is staggeringly high and unsustainable when considered alongside the rapidly growing rate of teachers ‘retiring early’. The global pandemic only served to increase the number of teachers choosing to retire rather than work through the challenges of Covid-19.
Here in WA, we face exactly the same challenges as the eastern states in attracting and retaining teachers. Recently the WA Minster for Education, The Honourable Dr Tony Buti MLA, described our predicament as “staring down the barrel of an unprecedented teacher shortage”. As one media outlet put it, WA teachers are “in stampede for the exit”.
In Anglican schools, we are somewhat fortunate. Teachers, like parents, choose our schools over others because of the values they live each day. Standards are high, whether in the academics, achievement or behaviour management. Students respond well to such high expectations, making Anglican schools great places to work for our teachers and support staff.
Anglican Schools Commission (ASC) schools are fortunate to be in the position where they attract high quality, dedicated teachers, with many staying within the ASC system for most or all of their career. Staff retain all their entitlements when they move between schools, as they remain with the one employer - the ASC. This is one of the many advantages of working in an ASC school.
One of the real joys for me each year is the presentation of service awards to staff in our schools. You qualify after 20 years of services, and then again after 25, 30 and now 35 years. Several members of staff have received their 35-year service award, an incredible achievement in a school system which only turns 40 in 2025. Simply remarkable commitment to one or more of our schools. At the ASC, we value and reward loyalty, something that seems lost to many in the 21st century workplace.
(Above) The Revd Peter Laurence presenting service awards to staff at Peter Moyes Anglican Community School
The media reports of government schools across Australia where there are not enough teachers for every classroom, requiring classes to be combined, or students supervised by education assistants in open classrooms, halls and the like. The problem is greatest in regional, rural and remote areas, and some urban ‘hard-to-staff’ schools.
Our principals tell me that the applicant pool today is far shallower in many subject areas than it was a decade ago. This is because there are simply fewer teachers to cover an increased number of classes and schools. The position is dire for schools across Australia, and something urgently needs to be done, far more than any government or university is achieving right now.
I have often written in Messenger of the crisis Anglican schools currently face in recruiting suitable priests for the position of School Chaplain. There are far too many vacancies across Australia, including in our own Perth and Bunbury Dioceses. Well, when we add to that the challenges of a nation-wide teacher shortage, and the long-term prospects are grim.
Please pray that school graduates will see teaching as a wonderful and fulfilling vocation, and older people with life experience also will be called to the ministry of teaching. All are welcome and needed. Our kids need good teachers; our future depends on it.