Published June 2023
Every teacher’s pathway into the profession and their experiences thereafter are unique. The Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) initiative is a national evidence base capturing teachers’ career trajectories from initial teacher education
(ITE) through to retirement, across all states and territories. It provides an up-to-date and comprehensive picture of teacher supply and the teacher workforce in Australia, by uniting and connecting sources of ITE and teacher workforce data across
all systems and sectors.
The ATWD initiative provides detailed longitudinal and nationally comparable data on ITE student numbers and characteristics in the ITE pipeline, as well as on the characteristics and experiences of the teacher
workforce. Linked together, the data provides access to timely information on the workforce, enabling key decision makers to better understand the teaching lifecycle, support the profession, and grow a sustainable teacher workforce.
ATWD leverages the data from within, and across, different data sources to provide a more accurate estimate and characterisation of teacher supply (e.g., ITE commencements and completion rates) than is available from separate data sources. Click
here to find out more about the data model for the ATWD.
In addition to regular reporting through the ATWD Key Metrics Dashboard and the ATWD Data Explorer, the ATWD initiative provides further insights into national trends
through a suite of digital publications like this one. These publications allow the reader to identify how different national trends may have policy implications.
The ATWD National Trends: Teacher Workforce publication provides insight into emerging national trends in the teacher workforce. It contains interpretations of key national trends from 2018 to 2022. These interpretations are contextualised against key
policy background, as well as any policy changes which coincided with these trends.
The ATWD National Trends publications are written to support workforce planning and inform decision-making by increasing awareness and understanding of notable national trends from the data. For further information on jurisdictional differences, stakeholders
are encouraged to explore the data available through the Key Metrics Dashboard (KMD).
Note: Throughout the publication, further detail can be accessed through the hover text function, which provide (i) definitions and descriptions of key terminology or (ii) additional data to support the analysis.
Both the ATWD National Trends: Teacher Workforce publication and the previously released ATWD National Trends: ITE pipeline publication will be updated annually as new data is released.
The teacher workforce data in the ATWD primarily comes from annual data collected as part of the ATWD Teacher Survey,
and the data on all registered teachers in each state and territory provided by Teacher Regulatory Authorities. Sometimes, linked ITE data is used to provide insights into the workforce.
The data underpinning this publication is primarily available through the ATWD Key Metrics Dashboard (KMD). Some of the findings on the regional and remote workforce are available through the ATWD Data Explorer,
with a small number of additional analyses presented which are not currently available through the ATWD Digital Tools.
The national trends presented in this publication occur in the context of considerable and complex changes that have impacted the teacher workforce. While COVID-19 is foremost amongst these changes, COVID-19 also occurred alongside, and may have
influenced, wider and more complex changes to the teacher workforce, other professions, and the nature of work more broadly.
One of the key opportunities and challenges for the teacher workforce is that people are no longer necessarily having one career for their whole working life. While this is not necessarily new or unique to teaching, its impact on this workforce
is becoming clearer. At one end of the spectrum, this means increasing numbers of mid-career changers, particularly at the secondary level, who bring their past experiences and diverse skills to their chosen subject specialisation(s). At the
other end of the spectrum, this also means increasing numbers of teachers who have, or may intend to, change their careers, including by moving into middle and senior leadership roles across schools and other settings.
This changes how workforce data needs to be considered. For instance, with teachers entering the profession as a mid-career changer, the age of a teacher is no longer a reliable proxy for years of teaching experience. With teachers leaving the
profession to start second or third careers, the lens to understand workforce shortages and demand necessarily becomes broader than the number of ITE graduates in and the number of retirements out.
The Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) initiative has a population-level view on all registered teachers, through the demographic and registration data supplied by teacher regulatory authorities. In this publication, regulatory authority
data from 2018 to 2020 is included. As of 2020, seven states and territories were able to supply regulatory authority data.
The registered teacher cohort includes those who work in schools, in early childhood services, on an extended leave of absence, and those who are between positions. It also includes everyone who is not currently teaching but has chosen to maintain
their registration as a teacher, as well as those teaching with limited registration.
Every registered teacher is invited to participate in the ATWD Teacher Survey, which is distributed by teacher regulatory authorities. The survey provides a voice for Australian teachers on their experiences in the profession as well as their
career intentions. Since all registered teachers have the opportunity to participate in the survey, and response bias analyses showed the survey is representative (ATWD 2021), the ATWD Teacher Survey provides the best available data on the
experiences of the teacher workforce.
Participation in the ATWD Teacher Survey has grown from 13,529 completions in 2018 to 38,415 complete responses in 2022 (see Table 1). This makes it the largest national survey of teacher workforce experiences in Australia.
Table 1: ATWD Teacher Survey response rate
Due to the number of participating states and territories increasing from three in 2018 to eight in 2020, a trend in the workforce may not reflect a change over time. Instead, it might reflect participation of people in the new jurisdictions and
the unique aspects of the policy and work environment that teachers and leaders are operating within. Confidence that these trends reflect change over time is achieved because the trends are also consistent within the states and territories
participating from 2018 onwards, and from 2019 onwards. State and territory level trends can be seen in the ATWD Key Metrics Dashboard.
In this publication, workforce experience data from the 2018 to 2022 ATWD Teacher Surveys is included. Survey data from 2018-2020 has been linked to the other ATWD sources, whereas the survey data for 2021 and 2022 is preliminary and subject to
small revisions following linkage.
The ATWD connects different sources of data to provide a national and consistent picture of the teacher workforce across Australia. To ensure fast availability of the ATWD Teacher Survey data for 2021 and 2022, findings from these surveys
are released as ‘preliminary data’. The preliminary data provides a timely snapshot of the workforce but should be considered indicative only. However, the preliminary data is not expected to change substantially following
the linkage exercise.
Analysis and interpretation of data, including preliminary data up to 2022, provides a valuable picture of the teacher workforce prior to (2018-2019), during (2020), and after (2021-2022), coinciding with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All teachers must be registered to teach or hold alternative
authorisation to teach if they are teaching or leading in schools. Many early childhood teachers are also registered with teacher regulatory authorities, but this is not required for all teachers in all states and territories. To register as a
teacher, individuals must be qualified with an accredited ITE qualification and meet the relevant requirements in accordance with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. However, not all registered teachers are necessarily working
in the profession, with some employed elsewhere in education or outside of the sector, and others may not be participating in the workforce at all.
The ATWD data provides in-depth insight into the roles and positions of registered teachers, including where they work and who they teach. This includes both registered teachers, who are deployed in schools and early childhood services, as well
as those in the non-teacher workforce.
With registered teachers from all states and territories across the country now participating in the ATWD Teacher Survey, the understanding of the teacher workforce structure can be updated from the 2018 view, which was based on data from the
Northern Territory, South Australia, and New South Wales. The structure of the workforce in 2022, based on survey responses, is presented in Figure 1.
To ensure the reported supply of teachers does not double count people with teacher registration in more than one state or territory, those with multiple registrations must be accounted for. In 2020, there were 531,311 registrations with regulatory authorities across all states and territories.
However, not all of these registrations are unique. Most teachers are registered in a single state (97.3%), but after modelling, which accounts for people registered in multiple states,
the size of the registered workforce is estimated to be around 515,000 teachers nationally.
The number of registrations with each state and territory regulatory authority is in-line with their relative population sizes in 2020 (ABS 2021), however, multi-state registration varies across each jurisdiction. Where multi-state registration
is greater, such as in the NT (29.5%) and the ACT (15.1%), the number of teachers available to teach is more likely to be smaller, as some of these registered teachers will be working elsewhere.
All teachers must be registered in order to teach, or otherwise hold alternative authorisation to teach if they are employed in schools. There are three registration status types: full, provisional
and alternative authorisations (limited/permission to teach). Each type of registration may have different names in different jurisdictions, and agreement on how to group these consistently has been established by the ATWD Technical Working
Group and is recorded in the ATWD metadata.
Over four-fifths of all registered teachers held full registration in 2020 (83%), representing a gradual increase in the proportion of teachers with full registration over time (2018: 80%; 2019: 82%; 2020: 83%). Provisional registration, which
is most commonly held by early career teachers, declined slightly by 2 percentage points between 2018 (19%), 2019 (18%), and 2020 (17%). Limited registration, which for the purposes of this data includes similar ‘permission to teach’
arrangements, continued to be less than 1% of all teacher registrations, remaining stable from 2018 to 2020 (range: 0.3% to 0.4%).
Education is central to Australia’s success as a nation (Productivity Commission, 2023) – and teachers are recognised as the number one in-school influence on student outcomes (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, 2013). Understanding
the characteristics and experiences of the Australian teacher workforce is essential to understanding trends in supply to build an effective, sustainable, supported, and high-quality teacher workforce that can deliver a world class education system.
This section focuses on the whole teacher workforce across schools and early learning centres, with additional data provided for those in schools. The characteristics of school leaders and casual relief teachers working in schools are explored in
The ATWD collects information on the teacher workforce’s main roles and positions, and on any other roles and positions that this workforce may hold. In this report, those with formal roles that involve face-to-face teaching are referred
to as the
‘teaching workforce’, the term ‘teacher workforce’ is broader and additionally includes leaders without a formal teaching role.
As of 2022, 70% of the teacher workforce were in teaching roles without formal leadership responsibilities; 9% were in teaching roles with formal leadership responsibilities; and 12% were in leadership roles with formal teaching responsibilities.
Most of the teacher workforce held a formal teaching role and were considered to be part of the teaching workforce (90%), with just one in ten (10%) being leaders without any formal teaching
The proportion of the broader teacher workforce in the teaching workforce declined 4 percentage points between 2018 (96%) and 2020 (92%). However, some of this may be due to differences in the
workforce structures between jurisdictions. Since 2020, when teachers in all states and territories first participated in the teacher survey, the levels have only decreased by one percent (2021: 91%; 2022: 90%).
The proportion of the teacher workforce in leadership, either as a main role or another role, has shown no consistent pattern of growth or decline from 2018 to 2022 (2022: 30%; 2018-22 range: 30-36%). Note, the percentages in this section may
not total 100% due to rounding.
For those working in schools, position is calculated based on the seniority of the highest formal position (Senior Leader, Middle leader, Classroom teacher) based on the main and other roles reported by a registered teacher. Those working as casual
and relief teachers (CRTs) are identified using contract type information.
In schools, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of the teacher workforce who are classroom teachers, rising by 2 percentage points from 2020 (59%) to 2022 (61%). In addition, 10% of the teacher workforce are CRTs. This percentage
has remained steady since 2020.
Amongst the teacher workforce in schools with leadership responsibilities, there has been a slight decrease in the proportion of middle leaders from 2020 to 2022, declining from 21% to 19%, despite a temporary increase in 2021. Conversely, senior leaders continue to comprise 10% of the positions in schools from 2020 to 2022.
The ATWD initially received all demographics from sources other than the ATWD Teacher Survey. When the linked 2022 data is reported, additional demographics, including disability information, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity, and
languages spoken at home will become available for reporting purposes.
The proportion of the teacher workforce aged 39 or under fell from 2018 to 2020 (2018: 32%, 2019: 28%, 2020: 23%), mirroring the same pattern across all registered teachers. The proportion of the workforce aged 60 and over increased over the same
period (2018: 18%, 2019: 20%, 2020: 24%).
In 2020, women continue to comprise most of the teacher workforce (76%), with was no evidence of an increasing proportion of men (2018: 22%, 2019: 24%, 2020: 23%). These proportions mirror those for all registered teachers.
Since 2018, and particularly over the period from 2020 to 2022, there has been limited change in the proportion of school types amongst the teacher workforce deployed in schools. In 2022, the teacher workforce predominantly worked in primary schools
(42%) and secondary schools (33%), both recording a 1 percentage point increase since 2020. Additionally, there has been no change in the proportion of the teacher workforce deployed in schools
working in combined-level schools (22%) and special schools (3%) since 2020.
Teachers at combined schools may teach primary or secondary students. Although it looks like there are far more teachers in secondary schools than of secondary learners, the number of teachers in combined schools explains the difference
evident in the figures here and below.
Across the teaching workforce, the highest proportion were teaching learners at secondary level (44% in 2022). A similar proportion (41%) were teaching primary level learners in 2022, while 6% were teaching at the early childhood level.
The remainder were teaching at a combination of levels (7% secondary and primary/early childhood, 3% primary and early childhood).
Employment by school sector for the teacher workforce deployed in schools largely reflects the overall distribution of schools across Australia, including a large majority of schools within the government sector (ABS 2022).
School sectors have remained fairly stable over time. In 2022, over two-thirds of the teacher workforce deployed in schools worked in the government school sector (68%), followed by smaller proportions in the Catholic school sector (17%) and the
independent school sector (15%).
Over the period from 2019 to 2022, the proportion of teachers working in the government school sector increased by 2 percentage points (2019: 66%), whilst the proportion working in the independent school sector decreased by 1 percentage point. Catholic schools also recorded a 1 percent increase from 2019 (18%) to 2022 (17%).
In the ATWD Teacher Survey, teachers report their place of employment. Where possible, the remoteness of this school or early learning centre is extracted or looked-up in reference tables from either the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting
Authority or the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. However, in some cases this has not yet been possible.
Across schools and early learning centres, data on the proportion of the teacher workforce in regional and remote areas is available up to 2020. In 2020, 30% of the teacher workforce was located in regional and remote areas, and this has been
stable since 2018.
For those with a known workplace remoteness who work in schools, the proportion at each remoteness level has remained consistent from 2019 to 2022. Each year, between 63% and 66% of classroom teachers who responded to the survey were in
major cities, 20% in inner regional areas, 11% to 13% in outer regional areas, and 3% in remote or very remote areas (Table 4).
Table 4: Remoteness over time for classroom teachers in schools (2019-2022)
Data for the whole of the teacher workforce in schools (across classroom teachers, leaders and CRTs) differs by ≤ 1 percentage point in all cases from 2019-2022.
The ATWD currently has 3 years of fully national data from 2020 to 2022, but these years were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any changes observed in the workforce experience composition may be due to the pandemic.
Compared to 2020 and 2021, the teacher workforce in 2022 had, on average, fewer years in the profession. In particular, there was a larger proportion of teachers with less than 20 years of experience, while there was a lower proportion with more
than 30 years of experience, as of 2022.
Table 5: Workforce composition (school) by age group, compared to 2022
Very similar trends can be observed for classroom teachers with 1-9 years of experience, but they were of a greater magnitude. While 28% of classroom teachers had 1-9 years of experience in 2020 and 2021, this increased to 34% in 2022. This 6
percentage point increase for classroom teachers from 2020 to 2022 exceeded the 4 percentage point increase across the teacher workforce as a whole. However, for those with 10-19 years of experience, or 20-29 years of experience, there was
almost no change in the proportion of classroom teachers from 2020 to 2022.
The similar composition of the workforce in 2020 and 2021, followed by changes in 2022, may reflect the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce. During COVID-19, teachers nearing retirement may have elected to stay to help meet the needs of the profession,
leading to very similar workforce experience levels in 2020 and 2021. With the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in 2022, those who may have left at the end of 2020 but continued through 2021 may have left in 2022, alongside those who would
have ordinarily been expected to leave at the end of 2021.
The proportion of early career teachers returned to its earlier levels in 2022, after experiencing a decline. During this decline, the proportion of early career teachers decreased by 3 percentage
points from 2018 (14%) to 2020 (11%), remaining at 11% in 2021. Following this, early career teachers increased by 3 percentage points in 2022 (14%).
In 2020, 94% of respondents who participated in the ATWD Teacher Survey had completed their ITE qualification in Australia, with the remaining 6% of respondents completing their ITE qualification overseas. The proportion of respondents with an
overseas ITE qualification increased by 3 percentage points from 2019 (3%) to 2020 (6%).The teacher workforce is more likely to be fully registered if they completed initial teacher education (ITE) in Australia (90%) compared to
overseas (85%). By contrast, provisional registration was more likely for teachers with overseas ITE qualifications (14%) than Australian ITE qualifications (10%).
In 2022, three-quarters (75%) of the teacher workforce had an ongoing employment arrangement, increasing by 2 percentage points since 2019 (73%). Short fixed-term contracts (<1 year) also decreased 3 percentage points, dropping from 14% in
2019 to 11% in 2022. Long fixed-term contracts (>1 year) were the least frequent type of employment arrangements, but increased from 4% in 2019 to 5% in 2022. One in ten in the teacher workforce were employed under a casual or casual relief
employment arrangement in 2022 (10%).
The share of classroom teachers with an ongoing employment arrangement has consistently increased, rising 5 percentage points from 2019 (74%) to 2022 (79%). The proportion of classroom teachers on short fixed-term contracts decreased 7 percentage
points from 2019 (22%) to 2022 (15%). Long fixed-term contracts increased for classroom teachers from 2019 (4%) to 2022 (6%).
From 2018 to 2020, 58%-60% of the teacher workforce were employed to work full-time hours. However, in 2021 and 2022 this increased to 73-74%. There was little change in most states and territories, but large changes in New South Wales and Queensland
between 2020 and 2021 explain the difference. Among the part-time workforce, between 2018 and 2019 the average teacher was contracted to work 27 to 28 hours per week. By contrast, this
same figure fell to 26 hours per week between 2019 and 2021.
Overall, for the teacher workforce in full-time and part-time roles, they were contracted to work an average of 33 to 34 hours per week between 2018 and 2020, and an average 35 hours per week between 2021 and 2022. This reflects the increasing
proportion of teachers working full-time and the falling number of hours per week for part-time teachers.
For classroom teachers, the proportion working full-time was very similar to the teacher workforce as a whole, with a small change from 58%-60% between 2018 and 2020, followed by a large increase to 71% in 2021, and a small increase to 74% in
2022. For part-time teachers, their hours per week also fell slightly from 28 to 29 hours per week to 27 hours per week. The overall hours worked across full-time and part-time classroom teachers were equivalent to the teacher workforce.
Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs or enterprise agreements) for the teacher workforce vary across states and territories and sectors. These differences can include different conditions of employment, wages and working hours. Industrial
relations and EBA negotiations influence teacher supply and should be considered in analysing data related to teacher working conditions to determine its impact on teacher wellbeing and retention.
Recent changes to EBAs since COVID-19 may have improved certain provisions and arrangements related to classroom teachers’ working conditions. Some examples of such changes to EBAs include:
Despite the variations in EBAs for the workforce across Australia, it is also worth noting that teachers’ teaching hours typically fall within the range of 21.5 to 24 hours per week.
While teachers are contracted to work a certain number of hours per week, they may work additional hours. Teachers’ working hours are set out in their employment agreements, and a key component of these are their face-to-face teaching hours.
Across states and territories, those in government schools currently have enterprise bargaining agreements which establish between 21.5 and 24 hours per week of face-to-face teaching. The limit on standard working hours is set out in the Fair
Work Act, as an average of 38 hours per week for a full-time employee as well as ’reasonable’ additional overtime (Commonwealth of Australia 2009). As a result, it is expected that a full-time teacher would work 38 hours per week,
with face-to-face teaching forming a large component of hours worked per week for teachers.
Over the period from 2019 to 2022, the full-time and part-time teacher workforce reported working more hours than contracted each year, despite a gradual year-on-year reduction in average hours worked since 2019. In particular, the average hours
worked amongst the full-time teacher workforce declined from 58.7 average hours per week in 2019 to 53.7 average hours in 2022. The full-time teacher workforce reported working 155% of a standard working week in 2019, decreasing to 141% hours in 2022 – equivalent to an average, 5 hour per week reduction over a 3-year period.
Full-time classroom teachers also recorded a fall in average hours worked, decreasing from 57.0 hours in 2019 (150% of contracted hours) to 53.1 hours in 2022 (140% of contracted hours). For both the teacher workforce and classroom teachers, this
still remains appreciably above their contracted hours, with an average of 15.7 hours per week over and above standard working hours for a full-time employee. The part-time teacher workforce has followed a similar trajectory, with the average
hours worked declining from 43.7 hours in 2019 (159% of contracted hours) to 33.8 hours in 2022 (132% of contracted hours). As of 2022, this equated to 8.1 hours per week more than the part-time teachers’ contracted hours.
Persistently long working hours and overtime can put a strain on the physical and mental health of workers across industries (Wong, Chan & Ngan 2019). This risk is clearly present in the teacher workforce. As part of the National Teacher Workforce
Action Plan, the ATWD will commence the collection of data on wellbeing as part of Action 27. This wellbeing data will increase understanding of the impacts of working hours on teacher wellbeing, and the flow-on effects for their longevity
in the profession.
Face-to-face teaching hours have remained steady from 2018 to 2022 for the full-time teacher workforce and classroom teachers. However, during 2020 when the teaching workforce was most heavily affected by the impacts of COVID-19, a lower proportion
of classroom teachers reported more than 25 hours of face-to-face teaching per week, compared to all other years from 2018 to 2022. Note,
as the measure of ‘face-to-face teaching’ in the ATWD Teacher Survey asks about in-person and online teaching, it is highly unlikely that teachers did not include classes taught online in their responses.
Previous analysis of face-to-face teaching hours and workplace duties indicated that these measures closely corresponded with the total, reported hours of those who identified their main role as a teacher (ATWD TWC, Technical Report 2021). This
gives confidence to classroom teachers’ reported hours, including the persistently high percentage of those reporting 25 or more hours per week of face-to-face teaching (Full-time classroom teachers, 2022: 50%). While potential reasons
for this, and the discrepancy between enterprise bargaining agreements remains unclear, it is also important to note that the proportion of full-time classroom teachers engaged in 25 hours or more of face-to-face teaching per week reduced
between 2021 (55%) and 2022 (50%). Ongoing improvements to the ATWD Teacher Survey will seek to confirm whether, and the extent to which, reported rates of face-to-face teaching hours continue to exceed expectations for full-time classroom
teachers and others.
Teacher duties encompass a wide range of non-teaching tasks that extend beyond face-to-face teaching responsibilities, and which are critical in supporting the effective delivery of teaching. From 2019 to 2022, the amount of time spent on key
teaching duties has steadily increased, with all recorded classroom teacher duties seeing an increase in the proportion of hours spent per week. These overall increases occurred despite a temporary drop-off in classroom teachers’ duties
The teaching duties that increased most, to consume 10 hours or more per week of teachers’ time, were:
Other teaching duties that rose to consume over 10 hours a week of classroom teachers time included engaging with parents (2019: 1%; 2022: 4%) and extra-curricular activities (2019: 3%; 2022: 4%).
The increase in the proportion of classroom teachers spending 10 or more hours a week on these duties likely reflect increases to their workload and responsibilities. As a result, teachers may be required to progressively invest more time and
effort into the profession, which may be detrimental to their wellbeing and could potentially deter future entrants. However, increases in the proportion of teachers spending 10 or more hours per week on these duties is not necessarily indicative
of an overall increase in average hours spent on the activity.
There is clear evidence that teaching and school leadership are the most influential in-school factors affecting student outcomes (Leithwood et al., 2020). Across all educational settings, leaders play an important role in ensuring high-quality teaching
and learning, which enhances student outcomes by building a positive organisational culture and supporting continuous improvement (AITSL 2018). Leaders may be responsible for instructional leadership, leading and developing teachers and support
staff, engaging with the local community, and overseeing the administration and operation of a school or early childhood service (amongst other responsibilities).
Leaders can hold a variety of positions that encompass middle leadership and senior leadership roles. Leaders are typically experienced teachers
and may continue to hold a teaching position alongside their leadership role or responsibilities.
This section presents the following ATWD data and information on leaders:
Not surprisingly, leaders are older on average than the teacher workforce as a whole. In particular, 60% of senior leaders were over 50 years of age in 2020, with 20% aged 60–68 years, and a further 2% already over the age of retirement
(69 years of age or older). For middle leaders, 48% were over 50 years of age, with 16% aged 60–68 years, and 2% over retirement age (or 69 years of age or older). This age profile for middle and senior leaders has remained constant
between 2018 and 2020.
Men are over-represented among school leaders. Women accounted for 76% of registered teachers in 2020, but comprised a lower 69% of senior leadership roles. The proportion of women in senior leadership roles decreased 2 percentage points from 2018 (71%)
to 2020 (69%), while there was no change in the gender of registered teachers more broadly. At the same time, there is no evidence of changes in these proportions going forward.
Middle leaders in leadership only roles (with no teaching load) increased sharply over the period from 2019 to 2022. Prior to the pandemic, less than one in ten (2019: 8%) middle leaders were in leadership only roles. This increased by 5 percentage
points to 13% in 2020, a trend which continued through the pandemic into 2021 (15%) and 2022 (22%).
Fewer middle leaders cited teaching as their main role after the height of the pandemic, declining by 21 percentage points from 2020 (55%) to 2022 (34%). Conversely, more middle leaders indicated their main role to be as a leader while additionally
holding teaching responsibilities, rising 12 percentage points to 44% (2020: 32%).
Senior leaders also saw an appreciable increase in leadership only roles from 2019 to 2022. In 2019, nearly one-third (31%) of senior leaders were in a leadership only role. In 2020, during the pandemic, leadership only roles increased sizeably
by 22 percentage points to 54%, before rising to 56% in 2022 (2021: 61%).
As a result, fewer senior leaders indicated their main role was as a leader with teaching responsibilities, declining from 50% in 2019 to 31% in 2022, whilst the proportion of senior leaders reporting their main role as a teacher with leadership
responsibilities fell from 14% in 2018 to 10% in 2020.
A potential explanation for the increase in leadership roles, and particularly leader-only roles, and the shift away from teaching as a main role for both senior and middle leaders may be increases in the variety and complexity of leadership work, requiring
more leaders and a greater time commitment for key responsibilities.
Both senior and middle leaders had a high proportion of ongoing employment arrangements from 2020 to 2022, likely due to their important role within schools. Of these, 92% of middle leaders had an ongoing employment arrangement in 2022, which
has remained the same since 2020 (92%), while Senior leaders recorded a 3 percentage point increase from 2019 (84%) to 2022 (87%). In contrast, in 2022, 79% of classroom teachers were working under an ongoing employment arrangement.
Short fixed-term contracts, which are defined as lasting less than or equal to a year, accounted for 5% of middle leaders in 2022 (2019: 6%), whilst senior leaders held a slightly higher proportion at 6%, which was unchanged from 2019 (6%). Senior
leaders held a greater proportion of long fixed-term contracts in 2022 (7%), despite recording a 3 percentage point fall (2019: 10%). Only 3% of middle leaders were on a long fixed-term contract in 2022 (2019: 4%).
The ATWD collects data on the average hours worked by full-time senior and middle leaders. From 2019, the average hours worked by full-time senior leaders reached 61.4 hours (162% of contracted hours), declining to 58.6 hours in
2022 (154% of contracted hours). Middle leaders recorded a fall from 59.3 hours in 2019 (156% of contracted hours) to 55.3 hours in 2022 (146% of contracted hours).
Despite the small decline in average hours worked since 2019, both full-time senior and middle leaders have continued to work a considerably higher number of hours than the standard full-time workload (38 hours per week). As mentioned earlier,
persistently working above contracted hours can put a strain on people’s physical and mental health and could have adverse effects on the supply of leaders in the future.
Middle leaders (63%) were more likely than senior leaders (37%) to spend 10 hours or more each week on marking, lesson planning and preparation, whilst senior leaders were most likely (86%) to spend more than 10 hours per week on administrative
tasks than other duties.
Between 2021 to 2022 these proportions of middle leaders spent 10 hours or more on:
Middle leaders also spent longer on community-related activities, with the proportion spending 10 or more hours per week on these duties increasing from 3% in 2021 to 10% in 2022.
Between 2020 and 2022, these proportions of senior leaders spent 10 hours or more on:
These increases in the range of non-teaching duties and the time spent on them for middle and senior leaders may reflect increased community expectations of the role of school leaders.
The distribution of experience across middle and senior leaders has changed moderately over time, shifting towards less experienced leaders while maintaining a strong overall experience base. This is likely a reflection of aging school leadership
at the highest levels of experience (30 or more years of experience).
In 2022, 37% of senior leaders reported having 30 or more years of experience, which is a notable 6 percentage point decline from 2021 (43%). Middle leaders with over 30 years of experience accounted for 26% of middle leaders in 2022, declining
from 30% in 2020 and 29% in 2021.
As a result of a fall in numbers for the most experienced senior leaders, the proportion of senior leaders with 10-29 years of experience increased from 52% in 2021 to 58% in 2022 (2020: 55%).
This trend is also reflected in middle leaders, where 62% had 10-29 years of experience in 2022, up from 55% in 2021.
From 2018 to 2020, there was also an increase in the proportion of senior leaders who had been in a similar role for 10 years or more (2018: 31%; 2020: 35%). At the same time, the proportion of senior leaders with less experience, who had been
leading for 1 to 2 years, decreased by seven percentage points (2018: 25%; 2020: 18%).
Senior leaders were twice as likely to work in remote or very remote schools (2022: 6%), compared to classroom teachers (2022: 3%), and middle leaders (2022: 2%). This pattern partially extended to schools in outer regional areas, where a greater
proportion of senior leaders worked (2022: 15%), compared to classroom teachers (2022: 12%), and middle leaders (2022: 11%). Inner regional areas had the highest proportion for middle leaders (2022: 22%) by 2 percentage points, while major
cities had the highest proportion of classroom teachers (2022: 66%), which was 6 percentage points above senior leaders (2022: 60%), who made up the lowest percentage of the teacher workforce in major cities.
Between 2019 and 2022, the proportion of senior leaders did not increase in any school remoteness areas, while the proportions of middle leaders only increased by a small degree in inner regional areas (2019: 20%; 2022: 22%) and in outer regional
areas (2019: 10%; 2022: 11%). Increases for classroom teacher were similarly low, with the only minor increase occurring in outer regional areas (2019: 11%; 2022: 12%). Compared to these increases, the only notable decrease was in the proportion
of middle leaders in major cities (2019: 68%; 2022: 65%).
These mostly static figures suggest no meaningful changes have occurred in the remoteness of school leaders and others in teaching workforce in recent years, despite the potential impacts of internal migration. They also suggest the large disparities
between the percentage of senior leaders, middle leaders, and classroom teachers in remote or very schools. These are longstanding trends and suggest a greater prevalence of senior roles in smaller schools.
One-in-three (33%) registered teachers in schools with six or more years of teaching experience had secured a leadership position by 2022. In 2022, those with 20-29 years of experience were most likely to hold middle leadership roles (25% of all
middle leaders). As teachers move out of the early career stage, the uptake of middle leadership positions increased – over 24% of middle leaders in schools had 10-19 years of experience in the profession, and one-in-four (25%) had up
to 30-39 years of experience. Early career teachers made up only 7.3% of middle leaders; with leadership positions in the early stages of a career more likely in regional and remote areas (Graham et al. 2009).
The greatest proportion of senior leaders were those with 30-39 years of experience in the profession, sitting at 18% in 2022. In contrast to middle leaders, the rates of uptake of senior leadership positions was more gradual, only beginning to
noticeably increase at the 10-19 years of experience level (10%), before rising to 16% for those with 20-29 years of experience in the profession. Less than 1% of senior leaders were early career teachers.
Amongst the teacher workforce with over 40 years of experience in the profession, there was a slight decline in both middle (2022: 22%) and senior leaders (2022: 15%), which may indicate a preference to reduce leadership responsibilities at the
latter end of teaching careers.
Figure 4: Proportion of leaders in schools (excluding CRTs), by years of experience, 2022
Note. The dark portion of each line represents the years of experience for which the proportion of middle (or senior) leaders is increasing.
It can be assumed that many individuals progress through a leadership trajectory by moving into senior leadership from a middle leadership position, especially in larger schools. Typically, opportunities exist for classroom teachers to progress
into middle leadership after 10-19 years of teaching, before progressing into senior leadership roles with 20-40 years of experience. The data in Figure 4 above shows the proportion of middle leaders peaking at 10-19 and 20-29 years of experience,
suggesting that the most common entry point is somewhere between 10 and 19 years. Unsurprisingly, the transition to senior leadership tends to happen later, with the proportion of senior leaders peaking at 30-39 years experience.
This section provides data on two segments of the workforce – early career teachers and teachers in regional and remote areas. The ATWD plans to release separate reports on two other important workforce cohorts in 2023 – Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander teachers and early childhood teachers.
To examine the opportunities for early career teachers working in schools to be employed as a classroom teacher, the types of employment obtained by early career teachers were assessed.
Over time, the proportion of early career teachers in schools who are working as classroom teachers has increased slightly, from 79% in 2019 to 80% in 2020 and 2021, and then 82% in 2022. This suggests
that it may be becoming easier for early career teachers to find employment, and that fewer are required to work as CRTs.
Among early career teachers, rates of casual employment were slightly higher than for the whole of the teacher workforce in 2022, at 11%. This has been steady since 2018.
For early career teachers who do gain employment in schools, and are not working as a CRTs, the proportion on longer term contracts (fixed term > 1 year, or ongoing) has increased over time from 61% in 2019 to 69% in 2022 (see Figure 6). This indicates
that early career teachers have been increasingly able to attract a greater level of stability and security in employment arrangements.
During a formal induction, early career teachers with up to 5 years of experience build on knowledge and experiences from their initial teacher education program, and/or on prior induction experiences that may have been received at other schools.
Formal induction is important because it can introduce early career teachers to the school community, working culture, and teaching environment, while enabling them to enhance their pedagogy, their professional identity, and other professional
Between 2020 and 2022, the percentage of early career teachers with 1 – 2 years of experience who reported receiving a formal induction dropped 4 percentage points (2020: 61%; 2022: 57%). During the same time period, the percentage of early
career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience that reported receiving a formal induction also dropped, but by an even greater amount, falling 6 percentage points (2020: 65%; 2022: 59%). While this larger decrease did not change the greater
likelihood that early career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience would have received a formal induction at some point (2022: 59%), it did narrow the difference between the percentage of these teachers and their counterparts with 1 –
2 years of experience (2022: 57%).
(a) 1-2 years of experience
Detailed information on induction experiences are collected for all teachers who received a formal induction.
Between 2020 and 2022, more experienced early career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience had the largest percentage declines across every available induction experience. Large declines were recorded across many induction experiences, including:
When these percentages factor-in formal induction, they equate to similarly large declines in internal networking (2020: 53%; 2022: 24%), targeted professional learning (2020: 53%; 2022: 32%), and structured opportunities for discussions (2020: 45%;
2022: 22%) for all early career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience (i.e., regardless of whether they received a formal induction). Declines in induction experiences amongst early career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience
were also recorded for teacher observation (2020: 76%; 2022: 50%), orientation (2020: 97%; 2022: 80%) and mentoring (2020: 85%; 2022: 70%).
Over the same time period from 2020 to 2022, less experienced early career teachers with 1 – 2 years of experience had comparably smaller declines across each available induction experience. The induction experiences with the largest declines
were the same as those above, including:
When these percentages also factor-in formal induction, they equate to declines in internal networking (2020: 48%; 2022: 23%), targeted professional learning (2020: 47%; 2022: 27%), and structured opportunities for discussions (2020: 40%; 2022: 23%)
for all early career teachers with 1 – 2 years of experience (i.e., regardless of formal induction). Declines in induction experiences amongst early career teachers with 1 – 2 years of experience were also recorded for teacher observation
(2020: 70%; 2022: 49%), mentoring (2020: 84%; 2022: 70%) and orientation (2020: 93%; 2022: 82%).
These declines in induction experiences for both more and less experienced early career teachers likely reflects a strong constraint in available resources amongst the teacher workforce. Particularly over the period from 2020 to 2022, the teacher
workforce has seen a strong increase in non-teaching duties, which has likely impacted upon the ability and capacity to deliver induction experiences to early career teachers.
In addition, one potential reason for the larger declines in induction experiences for early career teachers with 3 – 5 years of experience is that schools have placed a greater emphasis on experiences better suited to less experienced teachers
with 1 – 2 years of experience. These include observations, orientation, and mentoring, which schools may have prioritised at the expense of networking, more targeted learning, and structured opportunities for discussions, which are better
suited to more experienced early career teachers.
Nearly a third of teachers work in rural, regional or remote settings, educating over a quarter of Australia’s students. Yet schools in these areas often have difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers relative to the overall workforce,
particularly those with experience (SPERA, 2023). This has long-term impacts on student achievement, with international standardised testing revealing large differences in students from metropolitan schools and those in more remote schools (Thomson
et al. 2016). Given the additional challenges and barriers associated with educational settings in rural, regional and remote areas, the ongoing professional support of teachers and leaders in these schools should be explicitly considered in workforce
planning and policy making.
This section presents selected data on the regional and remote teacher workforce in Australia. It includes trend data based on workplace remoteness from 2018 to 2020, providing insights into workforce trends in regional and remote areas, compared
to their metropolitan counterparts. Further regional views of the data in 2020 are available through the ATWD Data Explorer.
In 2020, the proportion of teachers 50 years of age and over were consistent across areas where the teacher workforce were mostly in major cities (50%), inner regional areas (52%), outer regional areas (51%), and remote and very remote areas (49%).
Compared to age, differences in gender were more pronounced. Women in the teacher workforce in schools were more likely to be in outer regional areas (78%), followed by major cities (76%), inner regional areas (75%), and remote and very remote areas
(73%). These larger differences, particularly between outer regional areas and adjacent remote and inner regional areas, suggest that gender was a main demographic point of difference across the teacher workforce in these areas in 2020.
From 2018 to 2020, teachers in regional and remote areas were increasingly employed in permanent ongoing roles (+10 percentage points; 2018: 63%; 2020: 72%), bringing them on par with the metropolitan workforce in similar employment arrangements (2020:
73%). This corresponded with a decrease in the proportion of the regional and remote teacher workforce employed on short fixed-term contracts of less than one year (-6 percentage points: 2018: 18%; 2020: 12%).
In 2020, the proportion of teachers in full-time employment varied across Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4) regions where most schools in a geographic area were located.
As shown in Figure 9, average rates of full-time employment in the teacher workforce were broadly comparable across SA4s for major cities, inner regional, and outer regional areas (67-69%). However, teachers in the most remote areas were around
11-13 percent more likely to be employed full-time than their counterparts in major cities, inner regional, and outer regional areas (80%).
In addition, average hours worked were also broadly comparable across SA4s for major cities, inner regional, and outer regional areas. However, as shown in Figure 10, the teacher workforce in the most remote areas were around 10 percent more likely
to work 50 plus hours per week, compared to their counterparts in major cities, inner regional, and outer regional areas. The first and most straightforward explanation for this difference in hours is the higher percentage of full-time teachers
in remote and very remote areas. This is because, as a greater proportion of these teachers work full-time, it is reasonable to assume that this will impact and be reflected in higher average hours worked per week (assuming all else remained equal).
However, this overall increase in average hours does not explain why remote and very remote teachers are also working more than their full-time contracted hours, or why they are more likely to have full-time work. One possible explanation is that
more pronounced teacher shortages in the most remote and very remote areas have contributed to a consistent increase in both full-time work and hours over time. While this may be beneficial to some teachers as it provides more job security, it
may also be detrimental because of the additional hours involved, which may disincentivise working in remote and very remote areas.
Leaders in regional and remote areas tend to be starting out in their leadership position, with fewer years’ experience compared to their metropolitan counterparts. In 2020, nearly one in two (46%) leaders in regional and remote areas had 5
years or less leadership experience compared to 41% in metropolitan areas.
In regional and remote schools, leaders with over 10 years of experience were less frequent (32%) than in metropolitan schools (39%). This does not reflect differences in the experience levels of the teacher workforce in
regional and remote areas, with similar proportions having 10 or more years' experience in regional and remote schools (77%) and major cities (78%).
As schools in regional and remote areas tend to be smaller than their metropolitan counterparts (Lamb et al. 2014), they tend to have a higher leader to teacher ratio. This could potentially provide more opportunities for classroom teachers to transition
to leadership positions in regional and remote schools.
For a more detailed analysis on leadership in schools refer to the section on School leadership.
The proportion intending to leave the profession in the regional and remote teacher workforce decreased 6 percentage points from 2018 (28%) to 2020 (22%), similar to the metropolitan workforce (2018: 25%; 2020: 21%, -5 percentage points). It is unclear
if post-pandemic increases in intentions to leave will affect regional and remote areas equally, as this data is not currently available at this level of detail.
Between 2018 and 2020, the proportion of the teacher workforce in regional and remote areas intending to stay in the profession until retirement also increased slightly more (2018: 36%; 2020: 45%, +9 percentage points) than in metropolitan areas (2018:
40%; 2020: 46%, +6 percentage points).
In 2020, the proportions of teachers intending to stay also varied across SA4s where most schools in a geographic area were located. When compared to teachers in major cities and inner regional areas
(2020: 46% for both), teachers in outer regional and remote and very remote areas were less likely to report they intended to stay until retirement (2020: 43% and 41%, respectively). One explanation is that it may reflect increased pressures on
teachers in outer regional, remote and very remote areas. In particular, the higher proportion of teachers working more than 50 hours per week in remote and very remote areas may explain why they reported the lowest rates for intending to stay
in the profession through to retirement in 2020.
Since 2018, ‘workload and coping’ has remained the most common reason for intending to leave prior to retirement for all groups within the workforce, with 86% citing this reason in the regional and remote teacher workforce (2018: 86%;
The trends for all reasons for leaving were the same for regional and remote teachers and metropolitan teachers, with the exception of classroom factors. Between 2019 and 2020, metropolitan teachers cited classroom factors as a reason for leaving
the profession seven percentage points less often (2019: 54%; 2020: 47%), whilst regional remote teachers saw a smaller decrease of three percentage points (2019: 56%; 2020: 53%).
The national data released to date through the ATWD reveals several challenges to future supply in the workforce, including intentions to leave and workforce pressures that impact retention, which may require complex and nuanced retention strategies.
Current national and jurisdictional policy and programs are, or are looking to, address many of these challenges. For example, Priority Area 3 of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan includes actions designed to better support teacher retention
through specific initiatives.
Describing the supply of teachers requires consideration of both the current teacher workforce pool, as well as the incoming and outgoing flows of the teacher workforce. Teacher supply is an outcome of the number of people in the workforce at present,
the number and rate of entry of people entering the workforce (inflows), and the number exiting the workforce (outflows).
An understanding of teacher supply requires consideration of multiple pathways of entry and exit (see Figure 11). In this publication, teacher supply is examined in the context of the existing teacher workforce pool (continuing teachers in current
workforce) at points in time and through considering trends in the factors that impacting supply in isolation. However, the quantum of work provided by any teacher may change over time, with those currently in the pool potentially supplying more
or fewer teaching hours into the future. To fully understand supply requires understanding complexities such as promotions and position changes, the aging workforce, the amount of face-to-face teaching performed and subjects taught, and the equivalent
full-time load of staff. These factors would also be expected to co-occur. For instance, as teachers age, they may transition to casual/relief-teaching or part-time employment prior to retirement, and these position changes will typically reduce
the equivalent full-time supply provided by this teacher. Under actions 25 and 26 of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, modelling of the trends and correlations between these factors will be undertaken using the longitudinal data to allow
a nuanced and accurate prediction of changes and flows and critical factors impacting supply.
Examining the current pool of teachers, with respect to their pathway into the workforce, provides insight into the role of different pathways for sustaining the profession.
In 2020, 13,288 new ITE graduates who completed their degree in 2019 registered as teachers. To find out more about graduate teacher supply, read the ATWD National Trends: ITE pipeline publication.
Most domestic ITE graduates have registered to teach in an Australian state or territory one year after graduating; however, at least 5% (around 800 teachers) have not registered to enter the workforce within a year of graduating. The vast majority
of ITE graduates do intend to enter the teaching workforce.
Further analysis is needed to determine the proportion of international students studying in Australian ITE programs who go on to register to teach in Australia. Twenty percent of the teacher workforce were born overseas. Six percent of the teacher
workforce also held overseas ITE qualifications, meaning 14% of the workforce were born overseas but held Australian ITE qualifications. The fraction of this group who were international students versus domestic students is not yet precisely known.
However, 5% of Australian ITE program completions have been from international students over the last decade (completions between 2010-2019), suggesting that for every 20 Australian ITE graduates in the workforce, 1 was likely to have studied
as an international student and remained in Australia to teach.
Some supply is achieved through permission to teach and limited registration. It represents a very small component of the pool of registered teachers, at 0.3-0.4% of all registered teachers.
In 2020, six percent of all classroom teachers were both born overseas and held ITE qualifications obtained overseas. The proportion of respondents who had received their qualification overseas increased by three percentage points from 2019 (3%) to
2020 (6%). This may reflect changes in survey response rates among this group. There was almost no one in the teacher workforce who was born in Australia but who held overseas ITE qualifications.
Not all forms of supply provide the same potential number of career working years. Typically, teachers who enter the teacher workforce through migration are older than teachers who enter through Australian ITE. Three-in-five (59%) teachers with overseas
ITE qualifications were aged over 50 in 2020, an increase from two-in-five (42%) in 2018, and a greater proportion than in those with Australian ITE qualifications in 2020 (52%).
In 2022, of all registered teachers, 9% were not attached to schools or early learning centres (ELCs) via employment or an extended leave of absence. Many teachers maintain their registration for many years after leaving teaching and in-school or
in-ELC leadership. Notably, around half of teachers not attached to schools or ELCs (46%) had given up their registration in either 2020, 2021, or 2022.
Of those not attached to schools or ELCs, 6% were actively looking to return (0.5% of registered teachers, or around 2500 teachers). They were more likely to have ceased employment as a teacher or leaders in a school or ELC between 2020 and 2022.
This group is most likely to re-enter the teacher workforce, as they are actively searching for positions.
Almost half (47%) indicated that they might consider returning to the teacher workforce under the right circumstances (4% of registered teachers or around 20,000 teachers). The most important areas of influence on registered teachers’ decisions
to return to the profession were:
However, even where teachers might have motivations to return, some will experience challenges returning to employment (e.g., due to not having kept up with professional learning or professional practice requirements).
Teachers have specific areas of specialisation, particularly in secondary education. One of the critical considerations in the analysis of supply is the subject specialisation landscape of the current workforce, relative to the subjects that they
are required to teach. This is critically important for identifying and prioritising specialisations not currently meeting student demand.
Teaching out-of-field remains a critical and prevalent issue in schools across Australia. While out-of-field teaching may be seen as a temporary fix for teacher shortages in particular subject
areas, it has long-term implications for student outcomes. Analysing the extent of out-of-field teaching in the workforce provides insight into subject areas that face teacher supply shortages and could guide targeted policy development, as well
as recruitment and retention initiatives to ensure a sustainable pipeline of qualified teachers in all subjects.
At its most strict definition, teachers are considered out-of-field if what they teach does not align with their ITE content and pedagogy studies, as set out under the Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards
and Procedures (Standards and Procedures). However, the ATWD captures a slightly broader definition of out-of-field teaching. Given the data provided, teachers who had completed at least one semester of tertiary study in both content and pedagogy
in a subject that was taught were classified as potentially in-field.
When reporting on out-of-field teaching in Key Learning Areas (KLAs), a teacher wasclassified as out-of-field if they were not in-field for a subject in the KLA.
More nuanced reporting on out out-of-field teaching will become available with the release of the linked teacher workforce data for 2022.
Providing better data to measure workforce specialisation is an ongoing project for the ATWD. Given this, the ATWD data on out-of-field teaching is only one part of understanding secondary teachers’ specialisation. Trends currently cover the
period from 2018 to 2020, and show a general reduction in the rates of out-of-field teaching over time across key learning areas. It is unclear if rates of out-of-field teaching will continue
to decline or persist into the post COVID period.
In 2020, at least one-in-four (24%) classroom teachers who taught subjects in each KLA were teaching out-of-field. The extent of out-of-field teaching varied across KLAs in 2020 with the rates for some subject areas higher than others (see Table 6).
In 2020, teachers of technology were most likely to be teaching out-of-field (44%) and science teachers were least likely to be teaching out-of-field (24%).
One important caveat applies to the data on out-of-field teaching by KLA. A teacher in science may teach both chemistry and biology, and only be in-field for biology, but not chemistry. At the Key Learning Area level, science, languages other than
English, the humanities and technology may all have different rates of out-of-field teaching in their specific subjects.
The ATWD data provides little evidence that there are too many teachers in any Key Learning Area. If too many teachers had been prepared in one area, then at least one Key Learning Area with a low rate of out-of-field teaching would be expected.
However, even though Key Learning Areas will tend to have lower rates of out-of-field teaching than individual subjects, none had an objectively low rate of out-of-field teaching. This pattern of data could be seen as an indicator of a
teacher shortage across the board, rather than the over-supply of any one type of teacher. Alternatively, in some locations there may be an over-supply of some specialisations. This is consistent with findings that a small proportion of
those who have left the workforce indicated that a barrier to returning was a lack of positions in their subject area (7%).
To enable examination of out-of-field teaching by subject, the data on the teaching workforce who teach secondary learners more broadly is used. There were similar rates of out-of-field teaching
across subjects in the sciences and mathematics.
Table 7: Out-of-field teaching across STEM subjects, 2020
The ATWD data suggests a similar proportion of teachers are teaching each of the three main sciences out-of-field. However, this might not mean that out-of-field teaching is equal. The ATWD does not currently have data on how much of a teacher’s
load is spent teaching each subject, and as a result, it is not yet known whether the amount of student learning taught by an out-of-field teacher is equal across STEM subjects.
As explored in the section on School Leadership, many senior school leaders are currently approaching retirement age, and these positions will need to be filled by others in the teacher workforce,
most likely by middle leaders, and in turn, classroom teachers will move into middle leader positions. As the teacher workforce progresses, through leadership, their
face-to-face teaching reduces. Understanding the ongoing contribution of continuing teachers requires an understanding of the likelihood of not only school leadership outflows due to retirement,
but the follow-on reduction in the teaching hours of continuing teachers promoted into these positions.
CRTs have played an important role in the teacher workforce, by covering vacancies or absences of permanent or fixed-term contract teaching staff. As outlined in the Teacher Workforce section, the proportion of the workforce who are CRTs has remained
steady, with a 1 percent increase from 2019 (9%) to 2020 (10%) and no change through to 2022 (10%). Despite remaining the same size, three important changes within this group have played out against the backdrop of COVID-19 and related challenges.
Previous ATWD analysis (AITSL 2021) has identified that early career teachers, especially those in the first 3 years of teaching, are more likely to be CRTs than the teaching workforce (early career, 1-3 years: 17%; teaching workforce: 10%). The main
reason for these early career teachers taking on casual employment was because they were unable to secure a fixed-term contract or permanent position (early career, 1-3 years: 59%; all CRTs: 35%).
A second group of CRTs are those who are older and more experienced. This group may be undertaking casual and relief teaching in the lead up to retirement. Teachers with 30 or more years of experience are at least 50 years or older, and the proportion
of CRTs in this older and more experienced group increased to just on half over the COVID period (2019: 43%; 2020: 47%; 2021: 50%). The proportion of early career teachers, in their first few years of teaching, engaged in CRT roles fell by the
same amount over this period (2019: 19%; 2020: 14%; 2021: 12%).
This trend did not continue through to 2022. The proportion of CRTs with 30 plus years of experience declined 7 percentage points back to the level it was in 2019 (2022: 43%), while there was a partial return to 2019 levels among early career teachers
(2021: 12%; 2022: 16%).
It is critical to better understand the casual pool, including its composition regarding the future capacity of CRT teachers to provide support to the permanent workforce, and its potential contribution as a supply channel into the permanent workforce.
Although the changes to the years of experience among those in casual and relief roles did not persist beyond COVID, changes to the nature of CRT work have persisted.
In 2020, just 8% of CRTs worked the equivalent of full-time hours. In 2021 the percentage of casual and relief teachers working the equivalent of full-time hours increased by 20 percentage points (2020: 8%; 2021: 28%), and this higher rate persisted
into 2022 (29%). These changes coincide with increased efforts to establish pools of CRTs by employers, in the context of increased absences due to COVID-19 and growing awareness of teacher shortages.
Alongside the growing numbers of CRTs transitioning into paid to work at full-time equivalent hours, there has been a sharp decline in the hours that full-time casual/relief teachers report working, from 50.9 hours per week in 2019 to a low of 36.5
hours in 2021, and a slight increase to 38.1 hours in 2022. The working hours of full-time CRTs are consistently lower than the hours reported by full-time classroom teachers. The deployment of fulltime CRTs and their hours of work, relative to
permanent teaching staff, is a notable trend for consideration for the retention of permanent staff into the future.
The size of the available teacher workforce is determined by both inflows (through ITE, migration and other pathways) and outflows, and the success of retention strategies. For example, some individuals will leave a profession due to retirement, and
this can be forecast by analysing the age distribution. Others will leave prior to retirement, and this is where understanding career intentions and actual patterns of retention becomes critical.
Understanding the intentions of the teacher workforce to stay in the profession until retirement provides important insights into their perceptions of the long-term sustainability of their own personal teaching career. Analysis of their reasons for
why they intend to leave also highlights factors which could be addressed to increase retention.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges and disruptions to the teacher workforce. Amidst these changes, intentions to leave the profession prior to retirement dropped (2019: 26%; 2020: 21%), possibly due to the uncertainties arising
from the pandemic. However, the intentions of teachers to leave the profession have increased across the workforce since 2020, with more intending to leave prior to retirement in 2022 (35%). This highlights that career intentions are subject to
pressures within the teacher workforce, but also need to be considered in the context of macro-economic and broader societal events.
From 2018 to 2020, the change for migrant teachers with overseas ITE qualifications (33% to 14%) was substantially larger than the teacher workforce, and in particular, may have reflected the impact of border closures on those with strong ties to other countries. The post-pandemic career intentions for this workforce
segment are not yet clear from current data.
Career intentions are generally consistent across groups, however, there are some small differences in line with seniority. Those in senior school leadership positions have consistently been less likely to intend to leave the profession before retirement
(see Table 8). This may partly reflect job security and pay. When those who intend to remain in the profession until retirement were asked why, school leaders, and especially more senior leaders, were more likely to indicate that being well paid
was a reason they stayed (senior leaders: 21%, middle leaders: 18%; classroom teachers: 16%).
Table 8: Proportion intending to leave before retirement over time by workforce segments
A person having one career, for their whole working life, is increasingly rare (ABS 2022). The younger a teacher is, the more likely they are to have more than one career following teaching. There is also a larger number of years that people have
to assess their intentions over.
In 2020, younger teachers were more likely to be uncertain whether they intended to remain in the profession until retirement or not (see Figure 12). The proportions that were unsure as to whether they would leave before retirement, or remain, were:
Note. Trend-line is a cubic line of best fit
The three broad categories of career intentions, ‘leave before retirement’, ‘remain until retirement’, and ‘unsure’ are best understood by expanding the ‘leave before retirement’ category based on the
information about how long teachers intend to remain before leaving into more detailed categories (see Table 9).
From 2018 to 2021, the least common detailed intention category was those intending to leave in one year or less (range: 1.9-2.8%). This group grew by 79%, from 2.8% in 2021 to 5.0% in 2022. The number of teachers intending to stay for a short length
of time (2-4 years) (48% growth), a medium amount of time (5-9 years) (30% growth) and an uncertain amount of time (28% growth) also grew from 2021 to 2022.
Although there were increases in the proportion of the teacher workforce intending to leave within 10 years from 2020 to 2022, the levels reached in 2022 were comparable to pre-pandemic levels (2019: 8.2%, 2022: 8.6%).
Notably, despite an 18.5 percentage point increase in the total number of teachers intending to leave the profession before retirement, only one subgroup of those intending to leave did not grow from 2021 to 2022: those intending remain for at least
10 years, but still leave before retirement. A similar pattern can be seen over the period from 2020 to 2021.
The increased intentions to leave over the last 2 years have disproportionately skewed toward intentions to leave immediately, and to a lesser extent over the short and medium terms. There has not been any shift in intentions to leave in the long-term.
Table 9: Proportion of teacher workforce career intentions, by year
For those with clear career intentions, an analysis of
intentions by age indicated that the likelihood of intending to leave the profession peaks at age 29, at 3.9 times more likely to indicate leave before retirement than stay until retirement (see Figure 13). Notably, 25 to 29 year
olds are most uncertain about their career intentions. The likelihood of intending to leave remains higher than intending to stay until somewhere between ages 53 and 55. At age 66, the teacher workforce is 3.7 times more likely to stay in
the profession until retirement. In some ways this is not surprising, as younger teachers intending to stay until retirement are committing for a longer period of time.
The relationship of age to career intentions may account for some of the differences in career intentions across groups. Casual /relief teachers are relatively older than classroom teachers. In 2020, 49% were over 60 years of age, compared
to just 18% of classroom teachers. Older teachers are more likely to intend to remain in the profession until retirement. In fact, for each year over 60 years of age, the workforce is at least twice as likely to indicate that they
will stay in the profession until retirement than they are to plan to leave before retirement. However, there are other factors which are also likely to be at play, such as a lower unpaid workload.
One of the challenges for understanding the teacher workforce is understanding when a difference between workforce segments or teachers in different roles and positions is likely to be related to their experiences of work, whereas other
times they may be due to differences in the characteristics of the workforce in these segments, roles or positions.
The ATWD captures attrition in a number of ways. These include examining the number of ITE graduates from each cohort who remain registered at future points in time, the
proportion of registered teachers who are not registered in any state or territory the following
year, data collected from non-deployed respondents to the ATWD Teacher Survey on when they left the profession, and examining those with survey responses in multiple years who move
from the teacher workforce to non-deployed
Using this data, attrition has been analysed through examining the proportion of each cohort of Australian-trained domestic ITE graduates that remained registered in 2020. The ATWD does not capture similar data for overseas-trained ITE graduates.
Analysis in the ATWD Key Metrics Dashboard has found that 5.25% of individuals who graduated ITE in 2019 did not hold full or provisional registration in 2020. With each subsequent year in the
profession, the percentage of ITE graduates who remained
registered declined by an average of 1.28
percentage points per year (see Figure 14). This data is based on pre-Covid experiences and post-Covid retention may look different. If this trend holds for future years of registration with the same cohorts, and holds with earlier ITE cohorts,
it indicates that a small number of teachers exit the profession each year.
For the ITE cohort who would have been at the end of their five-year early-career period in 2020 (2015 graduates), 91% remained registered. Although the workforce pathways of 2015 graduates over time are not known, the cross-sections of these
graduating cohorts, taken together, suggest 5% do not enter the workforce. Of those who entered the profession, 96% were still registered.
Actual rates of attrition may be higher than the rates of discontinuation of registration. Teachers may opt to maintain their registration, despite no longer working in schools or early
childhood services. However, for early career teachers this choice to maintain registration while no longer working appears unlikely, as they appear to maintain registration for a shorter period than others in the non-deployed teacher pool for 2022.
The percentage of the teacher workforce that intended to leave the profession in one year or less in 2019, and therefore would not be expected to part of the 2020 teacher workforce if their intentions were accurate, was 2.4%. These and other
attrition intentions were somewhat higher than the average rate of registration discontinuation up to 2020, at 1.28 percentage points.
This relatively small difference suggests intentions to leave and registration discontinuation are broadly comparable. As teachers may maintain their registration for a variety of reasons after having otherwise left the workforce, including
carer responsibilities and during career changes, the rate of registration discontinuation is a lower limit estimate for attrition. At the same time, the uncertainty of intentions data means this data likely over-estimates behaviour, which
can serve as an upper limit for attrition. Actual rates of attrition are likely to fall between the two limits, at around 2% per annum. It is likely that intentions to leave within one year are a more accurate measure of actual behaviour
than longer-term intentions. Due to the longitudinal nature of the ATWD, the relationship between longer-term intentions and actual behaviour can be tested over time.
A wide range of estimates for early career teacher attrition have been produced in Australia, with some indicating that up to 50% of teachers leave in the first five years. The analysis in this report shows that 1.25% percent of teachers
who registered the year after graduating from ITE discontinue registration each year. This means that attrition over the first five years is closer to 5% than 50%.
Retirement occurs at highly variable ages which makes understanding attrition due to retirement challenging. Although the official retirement age is 67, the average age people retired in 2019 was 55.4 years (ABS 2020). The average age of retirement
corresponds to when the teacher workforce becomes more likely to intend to remain in the profession until retirement, rather than leave before retirement. As a result, it is likely that workforce exits after 55 are highly likely to be
retirements, with likelihood increasing with age.
In 2022, those who had left the profession were asked when they had ceased teaching or leadership, and the number of years since they started teaching were examined. Approximately half of those who had left did so in either 2020, 2021 or 2022
(46%), while many registered teachers had left more than 10 years ago, highlighting that data on more recent exits is likely to be more complete.
Attrition, as evidenced by additional analysis of 2022 departee’s experience levels, is largely uniformly distributed relative to the teacher workforce, at least up to 30-39 years of experience. The odds of teachers at each experience
level, from 1-5 years of experience to 30-39 years of experience, departing the profession range from 11% greater odds to 13% lower odds, respectively.
However, a greater proportion of departees than would be expected, based on the teacher workforce experience distribution, were among those with 40 or more years of experience (65% greater odds). A similar pattern was observed for 2021 departees.
Not surprisingly, teachers with over 40 years of experience are disproportionately likely to leave the profession.
Teachers intending to leave the profession reported the reasons that are motivating them and could report more than one reason. These reasons provide insights into the areas best targeted to change teachers’ career intentions.
In 2022, the three most cited categories of reasons for intending to leave the teacher workforce prior to retirement were:
The increase for ‘classroom factors’ from 2019 to 2022 was not confined to classroom teachers (+5 percentage points) and also affected middle and senior leaders (+6 and +7 percentage points, respectively). This means that across
schools, issues of ‘insufficient support staff’, ‘class sizes [being] too large’, and ‘facing challenges with student behaviour management’ have increased.
The high level of challenge with ‘workload and
coping’ has persisted and even increased over time, during a period where working hours in excess of paid hours for the full- and part-time working week have decreased slightly. When the change is examined annually (see Figure
15) from 2018 through to 2021, as working hours increased or decreased, so too did the selection of ‘workload and coping’ reasons. Up to, and through the impacts of COVID-19, there may have been a relationship between working
hours and perceptions of a heavy workload. However, from 2021 to 2022, a period where working hours decreased slightly, the perceptions of a heavy workload increased.
As part of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, measures of teacher wellbeing are being incorporated into the ATWD Teacher Survey, which will allow the complexities of this relationship to be understood.
School culture was the fourth most frequently provided reason for intending to leave the teacher workforce in 2022. School culture was more commonly cited as a reason by classroom teachers intending to the profession (48%), than by middle
leaders (46%) or senior leaders (38%). The opposite was true when reasons for remaining in the profession were examined. School culture was a more critical factor for senior leaders choosing to stay in the profession (58%), than for middle
leaders (49%) or classroom teachers (43%).
Across positions, the differences in the reasons teachers choose to remain in the profession also provide information relevant to understanding attrition. Classroom teachers in schools rarely indicated that they stayed because they were well
paid relative to their skills and experience (16%). Although still not a common reason, it was more commonly cited by middle leaders (18%) and senior leaders (21%).
Consistent with CRTs having a smaller proportion of total working hours as unpaid overtime, CRTs were most likely to indicate that they remained because they were well paid (27%).
Understanding the teacher workforce in the context of modern careers can be further achieved by considering the longevity of careers to date, the career plans of teachers, and the potential available if those who were uncertain decided to
stay in the profession until retirement (see Figure 16). This analysis does not consider complexities such as whether a teacher is likely to be working full-time or part-time across their years intending to remain, and their potential
This analysis assumes an average potential career length of 44 years, based on the average career lengths of the oldest cohorts. The average proportion of potential career length that is likely to have been ‘lost’ is a product
A major factor in the pattern seen above is the high uncertainty of career plans among younger teachers. From ages 25 to 30, the number of teaching career years that are likely
lost due to intentions to leave the profession increase rapidly. This coincides with reduced uncertainty of intentions, and increased intention not to remain in the profession up until retirement over this period. Total career
length expectations (years already worked plus years intending to work or remain) also decrease heavily from 25 to 30.
The potential number of working years indicates the number of years teachers who were unsure about their intentions could remain in the profession for prior to retirement, assuming that they
decided to do so. This figure is highest when teachers are younger (25-30) and more uncertain, which currently co-occur. Teachers at each of these ages are all early career teachers. To maximise this uncertainty into potential work and
teaching, it is important that early career teachers, regardless of the age they enter the profession, transition into teaching well. However, at the same time there have been falling rates of early career
teachers reporting receiving induction support. The weakening of induction could become a critical workforce issue in the future if these younger cohorts do not choose to remain in the workforce for reasons linked to this.
With national, linked data from all sources currently available in the ATWD for 2020, it is not possible to examine all of the factors affecting teaching supply to understand their individual impacts on workforce shortages. However, at a higher level,
it is possible to gauge whether supply met demand in 2020. The extent to which these conclusions extend to the post-pandemic period is currently uncertain.
With decreased rates of registered teachers being active in classrooms and leadership across schools and early childhood services from 2019 (91%) to 2020 (88%), the pool of registered teachers needs to increase to maintain the same level of supply.
However, maintaining the same level of supply is insufficient when student growth also needs to be accounted for - student numbers grew by 1.5% from 2019 to 2020 (ABS 2020). The estimated required growth in the number of registered teachers from
2019 to 2020 based on these two factors was 2.4%, estimated to be equivalent to around 12,500 teachers.
The observed growth in the number of registered teachers was, however, minimal. Examining the data from the six states and territories with regulatory authority data available for 2019 and 2020, growth from 2019 to 2020 in these states was just 0.2%.
This failed to meet the increased need due to lower rates of active deployment and student growth.
The observed growth was low despite there being around 16,500 ITE graduates in 2019. ATWD analysis has shown that only 95% went on to register the following year, equivalent to around 15,750
new ITE graduates commencing in the profession nationally in 2020. This still leaves an estimated 3,000 more teachers than necessary to achieve the required growth rate, however, outflows reduce this to the observed growth rate.
Analyses of attrition indicated that around 1.28% of the workforce are likely to discontinue their registration each year. This serves as a measure of all cause exits. At this rate of registration
discontinuation, there would have been around 6,000 teachers who left the profession from 2019 to 2020.
As a result, the number of new ITE graduates in excess of the required growth would have only provided for around half of the likely exits from the profession, meaning a reduction in supply. Other inflows into the profession could account for the
findings of negligible growth in the number of registered teachers. Other important considerations include the time fraction teachers are available to work. The balance of supply and demand indicated by these national figures may not be equal
across the workforce and all jurisdictions, given the spread of teachers across the country, and distinct supply issues for different stages of schooling and subject specialisations.
There are many moving parts to understanding whether ITE supply is meeting the demand for new teachers. At present, there are indicators that supply is either inadequate for a sustainable teaching profession, or just meeting demand. A greater understanding
of this will be gained through the ATWD as part of Actions 25 (demand modelling) and 26 (supply modelling) of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan. In particular, this modelling work will enable the complexities of topics such as full-time
equivalent load to be incorporated into these conclusions.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021). National, state and territory population, June 2021. ABS. https://population.gov.au/data-and-forecasts/key-data-releases/national-state-and-territory-population-june-2021
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022a). Job mobility, Australia. ABS. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/jobs/job-mobility/latest-release
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022b). Schools. ABS. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/education/schools/latest-release#schools
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020). Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia. ABS. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/retirement-and-retirement-intentions-australia/latest-release#data-downloads
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022). Person—professional registration status, teacher code N[N]. Australian Government. https://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/752808
Australia Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2018). Leading for impact: Australian guidelines for school leadership development. AITSL. https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/national-policy-framework/leading-for-impact.pdf
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2021a. Australian Teacher Workforce Data: National Teacher Workforce Characteristics Report December 2021.Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD), Victoria. https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/atwd/national-teacher-workforce-char-report.pdf?sfvrsn=9b7fa03c_4
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2021b. Technical Report. Supplement to the Australian Teacher Workforce Data: National Teacher Workforce Characteristics Report December 2021 (the ATWD Teacher Workforce Report – Technical Report) https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/atwd/reports/workforce-characteristics-report/technical-report-for-atwd-teacher-workforce-report.pdf
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (2013). Teaching quality: effective teaching practices for improving student achievement. Department of Education and Communities New South Wales. https://education.nsw.gov.au/about-us/educational-data/cese/publications/research-reports/teaching-quality
Commonwealth of Australia. Fair Work Act (2009) p II-II div 1. https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/awards/resources/nes.pdf
Graham, L., Patterson, D., & Miller, J. (2009). Early career leadership opportunities in Australian rural schools. Education in rural Australia, 19(3), 26-36. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v19i3.573
Lamb, S., Glover, S., & Walstab, A., 2015, Educational Disadvantage in Regional and Rural Schools, Australian Centre for Educational Research, Melbourne, https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1228&context=research_conference
Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2008). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership. School leadership and management, 28(1), 27-42. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632430701800060
Productivity Commission (2023). 5-year Productivity Inquiry: From learning to growth – Volume 8. Australian Government. https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/productivity/report/productivity-volume8-education-skills.pdf
Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia 2023, Attracting Teachers to Schools in Rural and Remote Areas in Australia, SPERA, Sydney, https://spera.asn.au/attracting-teachers-schools-rural-remote-areas-australia-2/
Thomson, S, De Bortoli, L, & Underwood, C, 2016, PISA 2015: a first look at Australia’s results. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). https://research.acer.edu.au/ozpisa/21
Wong, K., Chan, A. H., & Ngan, S. C. (2019). The effect of long working hours and overtime on occupational health: a meta-analysis of evidence from 1998 to 2018. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(12), 2102. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122102