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The unusually high turnover of teachers in Australia is having a big impact on children

The statistics are alarming:   Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that 53% of people holding a teaching degree don’t currently work in education.

According to an ABC news report last year, 20% of education graduates don’t even register as teachers on graduating – so many teachers are leaving before they even get started. Of those that do start, 40 to 50% leave within their first five years on the job.

Imagine the effect this turnover is having on our kids and their learning? The effect on communities… The missed opportunities with many children never reaching their full potential.

The ABC report identifies the main themes causing this turnover: teachers feel “burnt out, unsupported, frustrated and disillusioned.”

Professor Robyn Ewing from the University of Sydney, who researches teacher attrition says “Many teachers cannot secure permanent, full time employment and so leave the profession to pursue careers with fewer demands and greater certainty.”

Professor Ewing believes mentoring is the solution: “New teachers need support once they’re in schools,” Professor Ewing says. “A well-mentored new teacher is three times more likely to stay in the game.”

However, the huge administration burden placed on teachers, including the introduction of Professional Teaching Standards in 2011, has left them no time to consider mentoring.

An experienced teacher’s time is now spent documenting their own worth; there’s no time left to support colleagues, new or old.

“This is our obsession with teacher accountability playing out” says Associate Professor Philip Riley from the Australian Catholic University, who is leading research into teacher attrition Professor Riley “We’ve made it an adversarial profession, when it should be collegial. Teachers are competing for positions and constantly trying to make themselves look highly employable. What they should be focussed on is their students and their teaching.”

You can read the ABC report here:

I’d love to know how acting teachers feel about this article. Has this been your experience? What keeps you going? Were you lucky enough to have a mentor? Please leave your comments below.