Supporting the independent education community

Look to build teaching, not tear it down

“Suitable motivation to stay in the profession, not barriers to entry, are the biggest drawbacks facing teaching,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

The Independent Education Union of Australia is concerned that NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s plans to “tear down entry barriers” and develop new pathways into teaching will result in yet another missed opportunity to address the profession’s significant concerns.

With more than 32,000 members in non-government schools, the IEUA NSW/ACT is acutely aware of the issues that discourage school leavers from choosing teaching degrees and which lead many teachers to move on from the profession early in their career.

“Unmanageable workloads, lack of professional respect and autonomy, and a constant barrage of ‘teacher blaming’ by governments and the media all contribute to making teaching a particularly challenging career choice,” said Northam.

“Today’s announcement has echoes of the ‘Teach for Australia’ program which, by the Federal government’s own data, was a failed experiment,” said Northam.

Data from the Dondolo Partners report on Teach for Australia, commissioned by the Federal Government in 2017, shows that three years after their placement, more than 50 percent of Teach for Australia graduates had abandoned the teaching profession.

“Of greater concern is that fewer than 30% of those remaining were still teaching in schools below the education advantage (ICSEA) national medium, which was the very problem these programs were meant to address. 

“The IEU supports efforts to address staffing concerns in schools; however, as teachers are constantly being told, let’s look at the data when making decisions,” said Northam.

Retaining teachers must be is a top priority. “Attracting mid-career and high-achieving professionals into teaching is admirable,” Northam said. “However, keeping mid-career and high-achieving teachers in the profession is even more important.”

“The recent NSW Productivity Commission report explicitly states that the attractiveness of teaching has clearly declined relative to other professions.

“This proposal has the potential to, once again, diminish the value of the profession. There are few, if any, examples of other professions having their career entry processes undermined in such a way.

“The union has been working with employers to address workload issues and governments should include practising teachers and their unions in decision-making forums.

“The IEU is a key education stakeholder and we urge Minister Mitchell to consult with us on this new model,” Northam said.