Education International
Education International

Australia: New report reveals young teachers’ struggle to cope with diversity

published 27 October 2014 updated 29 October 2014

According to the latest survey detailing teachers’ concerns, large class sizes, workloads, and worries of inadequate training to deal with the challenges of today’s classrooms were front and centre among issues affecting Australia’s educators.

The issues, includingyoung teachers’ concerns that their training is not fully preparing them to deal with the diversity of Australian schools, were revealed in the latest Staff in Australia’s Schools (SiAS) Report.

AEU: Under-resourced school system

“Quality of schooling is affected by the size of classes and the amount of support available for teachers,” said Angelo Gavrielatos, Federal President of the Australian Education Union (AEU), an Education International (EI) affiliate. “Australia still has much work to do to get class sizes down and improve outcomes for students.”

According to the AEU, in Australia, 40 percent of primary school classes have 26 or more students – a percentage too high to provide students with the individual attention that they need and parents expect.

“It is clear that our school system is under-resourced and that needs-based Gonski funding is necessary to ensure more support and resources for students,” said Gavrielatos.

Teacher workloads are also increasing, with primary school teachers spending 47.9 hours per week on all school-related activities, up from 45.8 hours in 2010. Secondary school teachers worked 47.6 hours, up from 46 hours in 2010. The workload is even greater for principals and deputy principals who are working 56 hours a week in primary schools and 59 in secondary schools.

In addition, young teachers also say that their teacher training is not adequately preparing them for some aspects of modern teaching. They cite teaching students with disabilities, teaching Indigenous students, dealing with students with difficult behaviour, and working with parents as areas their teacher training has not prepared them for.

IEU: National Conference tackles elements of quality education

Meanwhile, the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU), another EI affiliate, focused on quality education during its National Conference in Sydney from 2-3 Oct., as the final part of EI’s 12-month Unite for Quality Education campaign.

IEU video highlighting activities that took place at the Sydney Botanical Gardens:

The conference analysed elements of quality education, such as teacher development and recognition, early childhood education, and support and funding necessary to ensure quality outcomes for students with disabilities.

“Quality teaching requires commitment to quality career pathways, quality teacher development, and quality learning environments,” said IEU Federal Secretary Chris Watt. “Teachers, and those who support teachers, play a crucial role in the delivery of quality education.”