Supporting the independent education community

News release: Union expertise crucial to Mitchell’s new teacher model

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13 November 2020

Union expertise crucial to Mitchell’s new teacher model

The Independent Education Union of Australia is concerned that NSW Education Minister
Sarah Mitchell’s plans to develop new pathways into teaching will result in yet another token
effort 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 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 IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“So we look forward to working with Minister Mitchell on this new model. However, we have concerns that the NSW government has chosen ‘Teach for Australia’ to jointly develop the project.”

IEUA Federal Secretary Chris Watt said: “By the federal government’s own data, ‘Teach for Australia’ was a failed experiment.”

Data from the Dondolo Partners report on Teach for Australia, which was commissioned by the federal government, shows that after three years more than 50 percent of Teach for Australia graduates had abandoned the teaching profession.

“Of greater concern is that fewer than 15 percent of Teach for Australia graduates were engaged
as full-time classroom practitioners after five years,” Watt said. “The IEU supports efforts to address staffing concerns in schools – but as teachers are constantly being told, let’s look at the data when making decisions.”

Retaining teachers 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 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.