‘A profession in crisis’: Half of Australia’s teachers want out of the classroom

Teachers are fed up with conditions and a crushing workload, the survey found. <i>Photo:  Getty</i>

Teachers are fed up with conditions and a crushing workload, the survey found. Photo: Getty

Almost half of Australia’s working teachers say they are overworked, underappreciated and would quit if offered a more satisfying career option.

Unmanageable workloads, teacher shortages and having to take on classes outside their expertise were the top gripes, a new survey suggests.

Some 47 per cent of teachers are considering leaving the profession within the next year, according to the results of a Black Dog Institute survey released on Saturday.

“The data suggests we are looking at a profession in crisis,” said Associate Professor Aliza Werner-Seidler, Head of Population Mental Health at Black Dog Institute, UNSW Sydney.

“Teachers are working longer hours with fewer resources and this pressure is building with an increase of burnout and time being taken off due to mental ill-health.”

Then and now

The 47 per cent figure stands in stark contrast to the 2021 results when 14 per cent were considering resigning in the next year.

This year’s nationally representative survey of more than 4000 teachers also found 70 per cent of teachers reported having unmanageable workloads and 85 per cent arrived at work earlier than required.

Three-quarters reported current teacher shortages in their schools while the cohort reported levels of moderate to severe stress, depression and anxiety well above the general population.

“It’s clear teachers are not finding the mental health support that they need,” Dr Werner-Seidler said.

“Teacher wellbeing doesn’t only affect teachers. Research has shown teacher wellbeing can also have an impact on students’ academic and emotional outcomes, and the emotional wellbeing and economic productivity of parents.”

The researcher said more targeted government investment in programs that promote better teacher mental health was needed.

The NSW Teachers Federation described the research as “damning”.

“This damning research again highlights the impact and severity of the teacher shortage crisis in NSW,” president Angelo Gavrielatos said.

“Unsustainable workloads mean teachers are burning out and kids are missing out.

“The (state) government’s lack of action in addressing the teacher shortage crisis is forcing many teachers to take on lessons outside their area of expertise causing increased stress and anxiety and adding to burnout.”

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell this week suggested claims of teacher shortages were overblown, saying three in four public schools had one or no vacant teaching positions.

– with AAP

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