Teacher shortages reach crisis point

A new survey has revealed that almost 90% of public school principals in Victoria are gravely concerned that there won’t be enough teachers for every classroom for the start of 2023.

The Australian Education Union Victorian branch survey across primary, secondary and special schools in metropolitan Melbourne and regional and rural Victoria shows that:

  • almost 50% of the principals surveyed across Victoria said they are ‘greatly concerned’ about their ability to fill teacher vacancies for the start of the 2023 school year, with 39.8% saying they were ‘concerned’.
  • more than 80% of all principals surveyed said it had become ‘much harder’ to fill staffing vacancies across all areas of the curriculum and school in the past year.
  • the top reasons cited by principals for teachers leaving the profession included stress/burnout (16.7%), workload (12.7%) and earlier than expected retirement (8.7%).
  • all secondary school principals surveyed, and 80% overall, said they had to re-advertise vacancies due to no appointments being made the first time positions were advertised, with 98% of principals reporting that the number of applicants is fewer than they would expect.

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace said that results of the survey reveal the severity of the teacher shortage in Victoria.

“The Andrews government must act boldly and immediately to address the shortage to avoid a disaster.

“The state government’s obligation to ensure all children can access high quality public education must be matched by investment in the profession.

“Principals worrying about not having enough teachers and staff to fill classroom vacancies by next year shows just how acute the teacher shortage crisis is a reality.

“The effects are already being felt in classrooms across the state, with a significant number of principals alarmed by the lack of applicants to fill teacher and support staff vacancies in schools. 

“Teachers are leaving the profession, citing unsustainable workloads and burnout as their primary reason.

“We’re seeing unprecedented levels of staffing vacancies in learning areas such as Generalist Primary, English, Maths and PE.

"If the Victorian government wants to stem the current teacher shortage crisis and ensure that students across the state have qualified teachers in front of them, they must first look at the retention of existing teachers.

“Attraction initiatives are important, but if government fails to address the loss of existing staff immediately, it is Victorian students who will miss out.”

AEU Victoria has released a ten-year plan with recommendations for the Victorian government to attract and retain teachers.

Urgent action is required including:

  • retention payments to be paid to existing staff in kindergartens, public schools and TAFE as incentives to keep them in the workforce
  • government-funded studentships providing cost of living financial support to Victorian students undertaking initial teacher education and secure ongoing employment in rural, regional and hard to staff schools
  • the Department of Education to centrally employ a significant pool of initial teacher education graduates who are completing their studies this year, to ensure a supply of teachers for 2023 and to provide certainty for graduates
  • further workload reductions.

“Victorian public school teachers are dedicated professionals. They have a deep commitment to seeing children grow, learn and thrive," said Peace.

“Parents have a right to expect that the Andrews government would pull out all stops to ensure there is an appropriately qualified teacher in their child’s classroom.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Dishi Gahlowt – 0434 159 833

30 August 2022