Plea for teachers to return to Victorian schools amid shortage

New data has revealed tens of thousands of teachers have stepped away from the classroom as principals fear they’ll have to cut classes amid a teacher shortage.

Victoria’s acting Education Minister Ingrid Stitt on Monday issued a plea for former teachers to return to the workforce and ensure students “get the best education”.

“There’s no better time to return to the classroom … so I encourage all registered teachers who are not currently working in schools to consider rejoining,” she said.

“This will not only boost our teaching workforce and support our schools – but also ensure every student in the state has access to excellent teachers, a great learning experience and the best education.”

The call comes as the Victorian Government revealed about 40,000 registered teachers are on leave or recently retired.

Earlier this year, a study of school principals by the Australian Education Union found more than 80 per cent believe it has become harder to fill vacancies.

Almost 90 per cent of principals surveyed said they were concerned that there won’t be enough teachers for every classroom at the start of next year.

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace said teachers leaving the profession have told the Union their primary reasons included unsustainable workloads and burnout.

“If the Victorian government wants to stem the current teacher shortage crisis and ensure that students across the state have qualified teachers in front of them, they must first look at the retention of existing teachers,” she said.

“Attraction initiatives are important, but if government fails to address the loss of existing staff immediately, it is Victorian students who will miss out.”

Demand for teachers ahead of term 1 next year has seen job listings spike by almost 40 per cent in the past year, according to employment website Seek – behind only NSW and the ACT.

There are growing concerns Australia-wide about staffing levels within schools amid what the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership calls a “critical shortage”.

“Australia is facing a critical shortage of teachers due to a number of factors including growing school enrolments, a drop in the number of individuals enrolled in teaching degrees, an ageing workforce and a percentage of teachers leaving the profession to embark on different careers each year,” a spokesman for the organisation said.

“Clear action is needed to ensure that a career in teaching is an attractive one.’’

Acting Minister Stitt said about 800 former teachers had registered interest in returning to the classroom, with the State offering ongoing assistance, professional development and career coaching for those joining the public system.

The 2022/ 2023 State budget included funding to recruit 1,900 additional teachers and 1,200 roles had been created for postgraduate students to work in schools while studying.

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