Teacher supply solutions must include workload easing and wellbeing

The Association of Independent Schools (AIS) has announced a new strategy to address a predicted shortage of teachers in independent schools. The strategy is called Growing and Nurturing Educators (GANE).

The AIS notes that the numbers of students entering teaching is not matching the increase in school students, there is a fall in the number of graduates from teaching courses and many teachers do not intend to remain in the profession.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 21 percent more students will begin school in 2030 compared with 2021. The predicted teacher shortage in independent schools mirrors trends in Catholic systemic schools and government schools.

A national survey of independent school heads conducted by The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) showed there are already shortages in the subject areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry, design and technology and languages.

The AIS states the reasons for the shortfall include “wellbeing and the status of the profession”. The strategy aims to address the shortfall by:

  • attracting high-quality and diverse candidates
  • increasing teacher placements in independent schools
  • providing more support for early career teachers.

In the negotiations with the IEU in 2021 for the Teacher and Support Staff Multi-Enterprise Agreements, the schools represented by the AIS refused to agree to a mandated level of support for early career teachers as occurs in Catholic systemic and government schools. The union also sought central discussions on teacher workload with the AIS – without success.

It is not clear what support the AIS is now proposing for early career teachers and the union would appreciate discussions with the AIS on this issue.

We also call on the AIS to constructively engage with the union on the key issue of teacher wellbeing and teacher workload. It is essential that any strategy dealing with teacher supply should also address teacher retention.

Catholic employers and the NSW Government have already recognised teacher workloads as a problem – it’s time for independent schools to do the same.