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More teachers leaving

As the school gates open and students flood in with shiny shoes and new backpacks, there’s an expectation that teachers should be bursting with enthusiasm to get back to the classroom after their long summer holiday. The reality is that teachers have mixed feelings as the school year commences, writes Gabrielle Stroud at ABC News.

Some describe dread and anxiety while others say they’re hopeful or ‘trying to remain positive’.

“I feel better than I did in previous years,” an experienced teacher says.

“Our new principal makes our workload more manageable.”

Another teacher – mid-career, early 40s – discloses her panic at the thought of a year working with a particularly challenging student.

“I’m not sure how much longer I can do this,” she confides.

It’s worth considering the fact that many of the teachers who walked through the school gates last year aren’t returning this year. And it’s a trend we can expect to continue.

Teachers are leaving the profession in significant numbers — the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest 53 per cent of people who hold a teaching degree do not currently work in education.

And research conducted by the Australian Government in 2014 estimates that 20 per cent of education graduates do not register as teachers on graduating, meaning many teachers are leaving before they’ve even started.

But the specific reasons why teachers leave and precisely how many are leaving are largely unknown.

There is currently no systematic tracking of teachers who leave the profession, let alone analysis of the reasons why they do.

The latest national data from the Australian Government suggest an average of 5.7 per cent of teachers left the profession in 2014.

It seems a fairly innocuous figure, however Professor Ewing argues it doesn’t provide any insight into what is happening to teachers on the books.


Why do teachers leave? (ABC News)