Education International
Education International

Australia: Increasing workload driving teachers out of the profession

published 12 May 2015 updated 13 May 2015

Increasing workloads are the main reason teachers consider leaving the profession, according to new research from the Australian Education Union.

Just under half of the teachers in Australia (42 per cent) work more than 50 hours per week and 23 per cent work over 55 hours per week. Those are the findings of the Australian Education Union (AEU) State of our Schools Survey for 2015. The AEU surveyed over 2,000 teachers.

While teachers were generally happy with their employment, high workloads were cited as the most significant consideration when thinking about leaving the profession, according to 70 per cent of female teachers and 55 per cent of male teachers.

“What is most concerning is that 73 per cent of teachers surveyed said their workload had increased in the past year,” AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said on 11 May.

Lack of resources

‘International comparisons show that Australian teachers work longer hours than the average in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries’, she said. ‘In addition, they are asked to perform more administrative and non-teaching work.’

‘Teachers generally report a high-level of satisfaction with their jobs, and see teaching as a long-term career, but the increasing workload is an issue that needs to be addressed’, she added.

Needs-based funding required

Haythorpe said that while more is expected of teachers in public schools, they do not receive the resources and support to back them up. “For example, there are 100,000 children with disability not getting any funded support in schools, which adds to the demands placed on classroom teachers.”

‘This urgent crisis needs to be addressed through funding which takes into account the real needs of students with disability’, she said.

Restore full Gonski funding

Haythorpe noted that needs-based Gonski funding, as recommended by the Gonski Review, the most comprehensive review of schools’ funding in Australia in the last 40 years, undertaken by experts led by senior businessman David Gonski, is crucial for providing more support for teachers and better schools for students.

She also condemned the fact that the 2014 national budget confirmed that the Abbott Government would abandon the last two years of the needs-based Gonski funding agreements, stripping A$3.7 billion out of schools, a funding “equivalent to 20,000 extra educators in public schools alone”.

She called on the Government to deliver the fifth and sixth years of Gonski funding, as well as an immediate increase in funding for disability, through the disability loading promised in the lead-up to the 2013 election.