“Teachers do a critical job and there is a shortage of them right across the country,” he said.
“That is why Education Ministers, teachers, principals and other education experts came together for a roundtable in August 2022 to discuss ways to tackle the problem.
“A working group led by the Australian Government, along with States and Territories, unions, principals’ representatives and university representatives was then established to develop the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan. The draft Plan is a result of that work and contains 28 actions.
“It focusses on ways to build the respect and reputation of the profession, encourage more young people to become a teacher, better prepare teachers for the classroom, tackle workload issues, and make sure governments have the right data.”
Australian Education Union Deputy Federal President Meredith Peace said this is the first time a plan about teachers and their profession has gone to broad consultation for teachers to contribute to, and described it as an important initial step towards addressing the teacher shortage crisis currently impacting Australian public schools:
However, a draft National Plan alone will not fix the shortages being experienced in public schools across the nation.
“AEU members have been reporting high levels of stress and burnout arising from low levels of professional recognition and respect, poor pay and conditions, unsustainably high workloads and inequitable funding for many, many years.
“The shortages we are seeing across the country are a direct result of ten years of neglect of public education by the previous federal government and their failure to recognise these concerns.”
Ultimately, this has made it harder for public school teachers, principals and education support staff to deliver the teaching and learning programs our students rely on to reach their full potential.
“We welcome the recognition of these issues by Federal Education Minister Jason Clare and the allocation of Commonwealth funding to address the workforce crisis, including for bursaries to attract new students and mid-career professionals to undertake initial teacher education.
“We also welcome Federal Government funding to pilot new approaches to reduce teacher workloads.
“We are also pleased to see the draft National Plan propose new measures for early career mentoring, additional Commonwealth supported university places in education and to include a teacher workload impact assessment as part of the next round of school funding agreements,” Ms Peace said.
“All governments must now make strong investments in measures to attract new teachers to the profession, encourage teachers who are no longer working in schools to return and retain teachers currently in the classroom.
“We must also see a pathway to full funding for public schools from the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.”
Ms Peace also cautioned against short term fixes that would undermine quality in initial teacher education.
“The teaching profession has fought long and hard to create comprehensive and rigorous teaching qualifications and standards and defended this against short-term fixes and short cuts that undermine quality in those qualifications. These measures must not be rolled back.”
The AEU expects our members will now have the opportunity to engage with the draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan and be consulted on the recommendations.
The Minister for Education outlined the actions the Australian Government will fund, including:
- $159 million to train more teachers,
- $56 million for scholarships worth up to $40,000 each to encourage the best and brightest to become teachers,
- $68 million to triple the number of mid-career professionals shifting into teaching,
- $10 million to boost professional development,
- $10 million on a campaign to raise the status of the teaching profession, and
- a $25 million Teacher Workload Reduction Fund – to trial new ways to reduce the workload on teachers and maximise the time they have to teach.
“I want feedback on the draft plan from teachers, principals, parents and the broader community,” said Clare:
What do you think is right? What do you think is wrong? What should be in it and what should be taken out?
“In December I will get together with State and Territory Education Ministers to go through all the feedback and sign off the plan. This is a problem 10 years in the making and it will take time to fix. I want to thank the members of the working group who helped develop this draft plan.”
The working group included:
- Secretaries from the Australian Government Education Department and all State and Territory Education Departments,
- the Australian Education Union,
- the Independent Education Union of Australia,
- the Australian Primary Principals Association,
- the Australian Secondary Principals Association,
- the Australian Special Education Principals Association,
- the National Catholic Education Commission,
- Independent Schools Australia,
- the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principals Association,
- Universities Australia,
- the Australasian Teacher Regulatory Authorities, and
- the Australian Council of Deans of Education.
Public consultation on the plan is open until 1 December 2022.