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Teachers’ sense of ‘belonging’ could slow exodus from profession

Literacy and numeracy scores have failed to improve despite boosts to school funding, a report says.

Literacy and numeracy scores have failed to improve despite boosts to school funding, a report says. Photo: AAP

Teachers feel disrespected, overworked and ignored yet most still feel they belong in the profession, a new report has found.

More than 5000 teachers across Australia were surveyed for the Monash University report, with lead author Fiona Longmuir, describing the results as a wake-up call.

“They highlight the urgent need for systemic action and personal change,” Dr Longmuir said.

Addressing shortages in the teacher workforce was identified as an immediate national priority by the federal education department in an issues paper this year.

Tuesday’s federal budget is expected to create more than 4000 commonwealth-supported university places for aspiring teachers, as part of a 20,000-spot boost for industries facing skill shortages.

The Monash report builds on previous surveys in recent years.

Job satisfaction has fallen, with almost two-thirds of teachers dissatisfied, compared to almost 46 per cent in 2019.

Less than a third of teachers plan on staying in the job despite eight out of 10 feeling like they ‘belong’ to it.

The majority of responses indicated negative sentiment, except on the question of belonging.

“Understanding teachers’ sense of belonging to the profession and how this might be further supported and leveraged could hold potential,” the report notes.

Past surveys suggested a high level of respect for teachers but the latest results found 70 per cent of teachers don’t feel like their work is respected or appreciated.

Less than 10 per cent of respondents felt respected by politicians.

“Teachers are qualified professionals. We need to respect them as people and professionals, trust them to do their jobs and create safe workplaces to ensure we not only retain them, but encourage others into the profession,” Dr Longmuir said.

Teachers want less administrative work, fewer students per class, and more staff, including those with experience supporting students with complex needs.

They also want a greater say in policy making and higher salaries to symbolise their work is valuable.

Dr Longmuir says teachers are being spread too thin, doing work that is not necessarily focused on teaching students.

“They are burdened by extreme workloads and excessive accountabilities and compliances and it’s driving them away,” she said.

-AAP

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