On Thursday 4 August 2022, Laureate Professor Jenny Gore appeared before the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into teacher shortages.
Jenny provided the following statement to the committee and our full submission can be found below.
Addressing the teacher shortage requires long-term, multi-faceted and research-informed approaches.”
I’d like to make three key points – all of which emphasise the big picture and research evidence.
First, trying to solve the current teacher shortage through recruitment might be important but as a solution it’s at best partial and long-term. And recruitment is fraught with challenges:
- We will only attract more people into teaching if teachers are portrayed positively and their work is recognised as stimulating and rewarding;
- And continuing to push the idea that recruitment must be limited to the best and brightest will fail because:
- It disrespects the current workforce, and
- It’s not based on evidence that higher ATARs make for better teachers.
Our research shows teaching to be the second most popular career among school students in years 3-12 in NSW, including many who are high achieving. We MUST nurture that interest.
Second, a focus on ITE can only be part of the solution:
- If corners are cut by halving ITE programs or putting unprepared teachers in classrooms, the teacher shortage will only worsen.
- ITE is often blamed for not preparing classroom ready graduates.
But our research shows that the quality of pedagogy delivered by beginning teachers is, on average, no different from the quality delivered by experienced teachers. While of course there is more to do in enhancing teacher education, this evidence suggests ITE is doing quite well.
Third, if we are to keep teachers in the workforce we must provide meaningful support. Teachers’ pay and conditions must be addressed. They need time to plan and collaborate. And they need and deserve respect. New graduates, fast-tracked graduates or international teachers will not thrive in a broken system – where too many teachers are burnout, exhausted, overwhelmed, and demoralised.
If we want to slow attrition from the profession – and we must – then investing in initiatives with clear evidence of positive effects for teachers and students is critical. We have a cost-effective approach to improving teaching and student outcomes that also lifts teachers’ confidence, morale and sense of belonging to the profession. This work on quality teaching and quality teaching rounds was born right here in NSW. Capitalising on this work will help raise the status of teaching, enhance ITE and support the 65,000 teachers currently in the NSW workforce. It can play a significant role in addressing teacher shortages and improving education outcomes in this state now and in the future.