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Update: Teacher Shortage Roundtable

If you’ve been reading the local papers or watching the news, you will know that this week has finally seen some genuine action to address the teacher shortage crisis. More importantly, with federal education minister Jason Clare organising a roundtable to tackle the national shortage issue, teachers, school leaders and principals are finally being heard.

We have spent the last 18 months telling governments at all levels that not paying teachers what they are worth and denying them the time to be the best teacher they can be is undermining the profession, and the quality of education our teachers strive to deliver every day. This week, we’ve learned that more or less everyone agrees.

Academics from the University of Melbourne told us:

“We need a coherent and comprehensive plan to address the real problem: teaching is not being treated like a profession.”

Education Minister Jason Clare demanded that people “stop bagging teachers”. In fact, he was emotional when discussing his concerns about the impacts of the teacher shortage.

Universities Australia claimed that a national approach to the crisis was needed, citing “the status of the profession, workloads and pay rates” as drivers of the teacher shortage.

Former secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Lisa Paul, warned that:

“Raising the salaries of top teachers will not solve chronic staff shortages alone unless workloads are slashed, the status of the profession is lifted and student teachers get into classrooms sooner.”

When will we see some movement? Well, the AEU ACT Branch is bargaining to improve teacher pay and conditions right now and we expect the final report of the ACT’s Teacher Shortage Taskforce to be released later this month.

Meanwhile, the ABC reported that:

“Federal, state and territory ministers will develop a national action plan, to be agreed to in December, following a meeting to fix the “massive challenge” of teacher shortages.”

We think we could give them some advice: give us more than thanks, value the teachers you have and reduce administration and compliance to give them enough time to do their work.

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