New data from the Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) National Trends: Teacher Workforce report, released today by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), shows that the number of new teachers who leave the profession is significantly less than most previous studies have shown. 

The latest data shows that only 1.25% of teachers who registered the year after graduating from initial teacher education (ITE) discontinue their registration each year. This means the number of teachers leaving in the first five years is close to 5-6%. Other studies have shown attrition rates of up to 7% per year, and often 4-5% per year, which would lead to a rate of 25-35% over five years. However, these studies didn’t account for teachers moving between states, territories, and sectors, rather than leaving the profession altogether.

This attrition rate means teachers are no more likely to leave the profession than other similar professions, such as nursing and policing.

Edmund Misson, AITSL’s Deputy CEO explains, "This analysis challenges prevailing perceptions of early career teacher attrition and highlights a more positive reality." 

“Early career teachers are resilient and with the right support can go on to have long and successful careers. We have an opportunity to implement initiatives that address their needs, aspirations, and challenges, ultimately ensuring their long-term engagement and success in the profession."

The report also addresses teachers' intentions to leave before retirement. While the research shows an increase in intentions to leave due to factors like workload, recognition, and classroom-related issues, the new data on teacher attrition shows that intentions do not always translate into actions. 

Despite expressing intentions to leave, many teachers have yet to make a final decision, indicating significant scope for retention initiatives to have a positive impact. Even among those who say they intend to leave before retirement, 40% intend to stay for at least five years and many others are unsure when they will leave.

A key revelation in the report is the departure from lifelong careers in a single profession. This trend, not exclusive to teaching, is reshaping the teacher workforce. Increasingly, mid-career professionals are bringing diverse skills and experiences to the classroom, while more teachers are exploring alternate careers and leadership roles in education.

"Education is experiencing significant changes, bringing both opportunities and obstacles for teachers. By understanding these shifts, we can shape effective workforce strategies to empower the profession," Mr Misson said.

Click here to read the report



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Note for Editors - The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) provides national leadership for the Australian, state and territory governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership. AITSL is funded by the Australian Government.