‘It is unsustainable’: Guardian readers on the crisis of Australian teacher shortages

More than 200 people responded within three days to our callout on the effects of teacher shortages in Australia. Current and former teachers, and some parents, expressed their anguish at what unbearable workloads were doing to staff and students. Many referred to the casualisation of the workforce and the increase in administrative tasks asked of teachers.

Some also said they were routinely expected to deal with a rising number of behavioural problems of students, and others cited aggressive and unrealistic demands of parents as factors that contributed to burnout.

Below is a small selection of responses, which broadly reflect the range of those we received. Thanks to all those who contributed.

Frank, Melbourne, secondary public school teacher

Annie, Melbourne, primary public school teacher

Janet, Tasmania, secondary public school teacher

Grace, Brisbane, secondary public school teacher

Libby, Tamworth, secondary independent school teacher

Anonymous, Dubbo, secondary public school teacher

Many respondents told us they had left the profession or were seriously considering it, largely because of workload pressures.

Nicole, Orange, public primary school teacher

Paola, Melbourne

Alex, Melbourne, primary public school teacher

One severe consequence of the teacher shortage was the inability of schools to put teachers with the appropriate qualifications in front of students, particularly in Stem subjects, respondents said.

Russell, Victoria, secondary public school

Joanna, NSW, secondary Catholic school teacher

Two factors that worked against teacher recruitment and retention came up repeatedly – low pay and the dominance of casual and contract work over permanent positions.

Nick Barker, Brisbane, secondary public school teacher

Hayley, Sydney, secondary Catholic school teacher

David, South Australia, secondary Catholic school teacher

David, Newcastle, primary public school teacher

Fran, regional NSW, parent of primary and secondary Catholic school children

Teachers told us their workload struggles had potentially disastrous effects on the quality of education they could offer their students. Staff shortages contributed to poor behaviour by students, which in turn only made disillusionment among teachers worse.

Aaron, Lewisham, secondary public school teacher

Georgia, Melbourne, primary public school teacher

Bill Tomalin, Tasmania, former secondary public school teacher

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