IEU Victoria Tasmania Branch recently conducted its third survey of graduate teacher members. IEU Victoria Tasmania Branch Student and Graduate Project Officer Jacqui Scott outlines the survey results and the international research on graduate teachers.
The results and data trends from IEU Victoria Tasmania Branch surveys are consistent with a growing number of national and international academic studies and Australian media reports.
There is a perception in Australia that there is a high attrition rate of teachers, both during their initial teacher education (ITE) and within the first five years of graduation.
An Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) report (2016) stated that estimates of attrition throughout the first five years of teaching are uncertain and range from 8% to 50%. A consistent finding is that most teachers enter the profession with positive motivations to teach and a desire to be good teachers (Bucahanan et al 2013).
The main reasons these motivations shift include insecure employment; lack of collegial support and sufficient mentoring; heavy workload and increasing additional expectations; and an inability to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
The 2016 AITSL report also found just under half of graduates are employed full time in schools in their first year. Of those working full time in schools, only around a third had permanent employment. A lack of ongoing employment and job security have been identified as factors for early career teachers leaving. (Mayer et al 2015)
Insecure fixed term employment leaves teachers unable to access entitlements such as paid maternity leave and unable to apply for loans. It is difficult for provisionally registered teachers to address the requirements to become fully registered while they are on precarious contracts of employment.
Training, induction and mentoring
Many reports indicate that ITE is not up to scratch. (Henebery 2019). The recent OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) found that Australian teachers reported being less prepared than the OECD average. The support provided to graduate teachers, in particular through mentorship, is also a concern. Mentoring has been consistently proven to impact on the intentions of teachers leaving the profession. (Kelly et al 2019)
Mentorship needs to be of high quality for it to impact upon attrition rates. Graduate teachers face many challenges in their initial years of teaching. A good induction should include consistent mentorship, allocated additional time for planning and reflecting on practice and guidance to support moving from provisional to full registration. John Ryan, the Director of Queensland College of Teachers said “the support of school leaders and teachers cannot be underestimated in supporting teacher wellbeing and retaining beginning teachers in the profession”.