Federal, state and territory governments have launched a national teacher recruitment campaign aimed at encouraging more people to join the profession.
The campaign uses the slogan ‘Be That Teacher‘. It highlights stories of inspirational teachers making a difference in the lives of their students.
It comes amid a national staff shortage fuelled by what teachers have described as heavy workloads, insufficient pay and negative perceptions of the profession.
The Federal Government predicts the total number of new teachers entering the profession between 2021 and 2025 will be 4,100 fewer than is needed.
This is partly due to student numbers, which are growing by around 10% a year, and partly because of falling teacher numbers.
Between 2017 and 2020, education course completion rates (the number of university students finishing their degree) fell by 17% a year.
The ‘action plan’
Last year, federal, state and territory governments agreed on an ‘action plan’ to address the teacher shortage.
The plan included a commitment to fund more university places and scholarships to study teaching, alongside a review of teaching courses. It also promised funding for initiatives to reduce teacher workload and better classroom resources.
It also included a national campaign, launched today, to elevate the status of teachers and “to recognise [teachers’] immense value”.
The recruitment campaign
The new teacher recruitment campaign, which will run on social media, billboards and bus stops, will highlight stories of teachers who have inspired children.
Federal Education Minister Jason Clare says the aim is to change “the way we as a country think about our teachers… I want more young Australians to want to be a teacher.”
Eight teachers have been chosen to front the campaign, including NSW teacher Kerri-Ann Lacey.
Lacey says “there is not another profession that touches the human soul as this does.”
Federal Greens Education Spokesperson Penny Allman-Payne said it was “good” to highlight the value of teaching, but added “teachers aren’t leaving the profession because they’re not getting enough nice TV commercials made about them — they’re leaving because the conditions are appalling”.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) welcomed the campaign. It said, however, that not enough was being done to address the causes of the crisis.
AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe told TDA “teaching is the greatest profession of all, [but] nobody should think this ad campaign is the answer to a recruitment and retention crisis that has been decades in the making.”
“We need to see our schools fully funded and we need to see our teachers given the tools they need to address unsustainable workloads.”
A recent survey of more than 3,000 teachers by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership found teachers are leaving the profession due to heavy workload and mental health.
71% of teachers who said they planned to quit gave the heavy workload as a reason they would leave the profession.
Mental health was a reason nominated by 61% of teachers wanting to leave the profession. 30% nominated pay and 30% nominated the poor public image of the profession.
Last year, TDA asked teachers in our audience to tell us why they believed the teacher shortage was happening, and how it affected them.
A 25-year-old teacher from Victoria told TDA “the job is impossible to do properly inside of our paid hours, so each teacher has no option but to undertake hours and hours of unpaid overtime just to stay up to date.”
A 31-year-old teacher from Victoria said “burnout for me has nothing to do with pay. It has everything to do with the pressures of trying to complete two people’s jobs within the confines of a 38 hour week.”
A 34-year-old teacher from rural SA told TDA “the job has changed” due to declining student mental health. “We are crying out for support. But ‘we get 12 weeks holiday a year,’ so we’re expected to suck it up!”