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Why teachers are abandoning Australian schools as Anthony Albanese promises to fix dire shortage

Desperate and desperate teachers have spoken out why they are leaving the profession en masse, painting a picture of struggling to meet impossible workloads and expectations while being undermined and undervalued.

A 2019 federal survey found that more than a third of teachers had quit within the first five years.

And testimonials collected from former teachers this week showed why.

‘Teachers feel unappreciated’, former primary school teacher Gabbie Shroud wrote in the guard on Tuesday.

Although teachers were committed to the job and described it as a “vocation,” many said they often decided to leave the job because of impossible demands.

“Heartbreaking, I know the students will be the victims of this, but I can’t stay. It’s not enough,” said one.

Teachers speak out about the workload that forces many to leave the profession

Teachers speak out about the workload that forces many to leave the profession

Burnout was a common complaint.

‘The expectations, guidelines, mandates and overloaded curriculum are destroying me. The joy has faded,” said one teacher.

“We are expected to work miracles,” said a 20-year-old former primary school teacher.

“In every lesson, every day, we have to make sure that we meet every need of every child, from the one who has experienced a trauma to the [parent diagnosed] child genius.’

Much frustration was expressed about the expectations that teachers lumped together by distant politicians and bureaucrats, with no real idea how they affected the quality of education.

My days are filled with behavior management, email bombing, program writing, work marking, giving feedback, reporting to parents, setting student goals, writing individual programs, attending meetings and professional development to stay registered,” said one teacher.

‘And, dare I forget, uploading data into the system before deadline. If only I could teach!’

The shortage of teachers forces many schools to use non-specialists to teach mathematics and science, for example

The shortage of teachers forces many schools to use non-specialists to teach mathematics and science, for example

The pandemic also contributed to stress levels.

“Our skills are not respected or valued,” said a high school teacher who plans to quit the job.

“I’m a college-educated professional, but this year I spent hours planning handing out RATs to students, a task anyone could do. Why am I doing this?

“Our deadlines will not be extended if scheduling time is taken away because we are supposed to use our weekend to catch up on work.”

Teachers say the ever-increasing administrative level, piled up by politicians and bureaucrats far from the classroom, is consuming their time and energy educating the young

Teachers say the ever-increasing administrative level, piled up by politicians and bureaucrats far from the classroom, is consuming their time and energy educating the young

Unsafe working conditions were also emphasized, with many teachers now on annual contracts.

One teacher said that when she expressed concern about the mental health effects that the easing of the staff was having on them, she was told, “That is the fate of the temporary teacher.”

“Heartbreaking, I know the students will be the victims of this, but I can't stay.  It's not enough', said a teacher

“Heartbreaking, I know the students will be the victims of this, but I can’t stay. It’s not enough’, said a teacher

Describing himself as ‘a recovering teacher’, Mr Shround resigned from an eight-year career as a primary school teacher to become an author.

She has argued that the standardized tests, such as NAPLAN, destroy teachers’ ability to accommodate children’s individual needs and talents.

The teacher shortage is felt across Australia, particularly in NSW and Queensland.

In NSW, the opposition Labor party called for a parliamentary inquiry to address the 2,300 teacher vacancies registered in the state’s public schools.

NSW Shadow Education Minister Prue Car said it was not just the pay that motivated the state’s unprecedented joint strike by the state’s public and Catholic school teachers, scheduled for Thursday, but also the severe staff shortage.

“Every day I hear…there are kids in every school in the state who are under minimal supervision, classes merged, we’re talking about 80 to 100 kids being tutored by one teacher,” she told me. Sky News Australia

In Queensland, three quarters of schools used non-specialist teachers, such as headmasters, or teachers operating outside their area to fill gaps. ABC reported

Anthony Albanese, here posing for a selfie with students during a visit to his old school in St Mary's Cathedral, has pledged to tackle Australia's teacher shortage

Anthony Albanese, here posing for a selfie with students during a visit to his old school in St Mary’s Cathedral, has pledged to tackle Australia’s teacher shortage

The problem will only get worse with a Monash University survey published in January that found 59 percent of middle and primary teachers want to do something different.

The federal parliament has been informed that Australia will be short of about 4,000 teachers by 2025, according to current trends.

Anthony Albanese pledged to address the problem with new programs that provide financial incentives to encourage “high achievers” both at the school level and those already working in the corporate world to be trained as teachers.

The emphasis will be on finding teachers in mathematics and science, where the shortage is greatest.

Southern Cross University Professor of Education Pasi Sahlberg argued that those strategies would not address the education exodus.

“This is because the cause of this current crisis is not a shortage of teachers: it is the lack of adequate compensation and support for existing teachers,” he wrote in The conversation earlier this month.

“If we don’t understand why teaching is not an attractive profession, the current strategies and promises funded by governments will not be enough to solve the crisis.”

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