Australia currently doesn’t have a system to produce national shared data to tell us if teacher attrition is a problem here. Research estimates of teacher attrition vary widely from 8% to 50%.
Does it mean incomplete training, leaving the profession after a few years or training as a teacher but never teaching? Some teachers return after a break. We need to understand each of these.
We don’t know everything about teacher attrition but do know Initial teacher education (teaching) students don’t drop out more than others. They complete study at about the same rate (65%) as other university courses (68%).
The motivations are complex. We need more research to properly understand why teachers stay or leave and what this means for the workforce.
Plans are underway for national teacher workforce data. This will show us who is teaching what and where, as well as whether teachers are leaving the profession at a high rate.
This includes prioritising effective feedback in their schools, investing in teachers’ professional learning and ensuring a school culture that is supportive of feedback practices.
Effective feedback can boost student learning by up to eight months over a year – but it must address a clear learning goal and inform the student about how to improve towards this goal.
Teachers should understand what quality looks like, how the student’s work falls short of that and help the student see and address the gap.
This helps students develop an understanding of quality work, discuss goals and reflect on their progress to become more autonomous in their learning.
Poor feedback can be vague, include harsh criticism, lack detail or rely on extrinsic rewards (like stickers). If students don’t understand the learning goals or success criteria, feedback won’t work.
About 90% of school leaders report a high degree of job satisfaction and a clear intention to remain in the profession. It’s a rewarding role that can significantly impact student learning. With these rewards come challenges. Being aware of some of the typical challenges will help you to prepare effectively to deal with them.
Principals can be busy with all kinds of tasks, but those which contribute to your school’s strategic priorities deserve the most attention. Be prepared to delegate some of the administrative workload to those within your team who show a willingness to help and develop their own leadership capacity.
Be accessible and visible among students, staff, parents/families and the broader school community. This engagement will give you the information you need to set the right direction for the school.
Establish a relentless focus on student improvement. Concentrate on understanding the impact teaching is having in the school, and focus the efforts of all in the school on improving the quality of teaching and learning.
Developing your instructional leadership skills will help in advancing high-quality teaching and learning. You may also need to prepare for the managerial requirements of the role. Seek a mentor or targeted training when you commence so you can apply the advice and skills you’ve acquired immediately.
Feelings of isolation are consistently reported as a challenge for new principals. Engaging with colleagues and mentors will provide you with an opportunity to discuss difficult issues with people who are understanding and knowledgeable in dealing with the day-to-day challenges of the role.