Education changes lives and teachers transform futures. In fact, there’s enough evidence to show that teacher quality is the single greatest school-related influence on student achievement and positive learning outcomes.
Teachers play a critical and often under-sung role in the development of our young people. It is, therefore, vital that their views are heard by decision makers, thought leaders, and major stakeholders in our education system, notably parents.
This is why the NEiTA Foundation has partnered with the Australian College of Educators to publish the NEiTA-ACE Teachers Report Card 2021.
Tribute to teachers on World Teachers’ Day
Launched on 29 October, the day on which Australia celebrates World Teachers’ Day, the 2021 Teachers Report Card showcases the experiences, wisdom, and concerns of teachers around the state of education and the teaching profession in Australia.
This year’s report comes four years and a pandemic after the first Teachers Report Card. While many of the findings of 2017 have merely been reinforced in 2021, teachers have responded to the survey in greater numbers this time. Teachers clearly have something to say!
Some of the highlights in the report are:
Although 87% of the teachers surveyed find their profession rewarding, 84% have thought about leaving it in the past year.
Three out of four felt stressed by their work.
One in four are working at least six days a week.
82% struggle to establish a work-life balance.
36% are not satisfied in their job.
Almost half are dissatisfied with their pay.
71% were able to teach effectively despite the challenges of the pandemic.
In relation to some of the most debated education issues:
Three out of five teachers believe the current method of testing learning outcomes is ineffective.
In fact, 52% felt that there was too much standardised testing.
One in four believe students receive too much homework.
Most teachers believe that students should be allowed to use their personal digital devices only before or after school, not during breaks or in the classroom.
One in five teachers felt that students miss out on educational opportunities because their parents are unable to afford them.
Responses to pandemic challenges
Teachers have been on the frontline every day of the COVID-19 pandemic and have had to adapt to the pressure of school lockdowns and the need for remote learning on the fly. This national report, inevitably coloured by pandemic effects, focuses on the impact across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland at a time when there has been ongoing and rapid change in every state.
Analyses of teachers’ responses to pandemic-related questions in the survey revealed the following insights:
The vast majority of teachers attempted things that they had not done before and adopted new teaching methods.
Just over half of the teachers surveyed said that all or most of the curricula at their schools were ready to be delivered online if the need arises.
Seven out of ten said they are spending more time supporting their students’ emotional wellbeing.
Seven out of ten felt able to teach effectively despite the challenges.
There is an apparent paradox in the insights thrown up by the NEiTA-ACE Teachers Report Card 2021, which shows that a large majority of teachers find their profession rewarding or very rewarding, while at the same time an increasing proportion now express job dissatisfaction. This may be partially explained by the inference from the survey responses that one-third of teachers feel that they are only occasionally able to be the best teacher they can be.
The report highlights the ongoing need to do more to improve teacher retention levels. It is clearly unsustainable if one in five educators are repeatedly considering exiting the profession.
It also indicates that higher pay is not the only answer to workload and wellbeing challenges. As a community we may need to increase our efforts to reflect an attitude that shows a deeper appreciation of and for the status of the teaching profession; and try to reduce the stress levels of our teachers so they can be their best selves for our children.
Thanks and acknowledgements
We are immensely grateful to all the teachers who generously gave their time and insights to complete the survey conducted with the memberships of the Australian College of Educators and the NEiTA Foundation.
We offer special thanks to Mary Clarke, founder and principal of DXP Consulting, for her valuable contribution to the report.