If the suspicion was that teachers are overworked, those suspicions have been proven correct; after teaching and learning strategy, teachers have indicated that workforce strategy as a top priority for schools of all types.
There is universal agreement that schools and systems have largely underinvested in human resources and more focus and support from leaders and more support to build knowledge and capability in this area is needed.
Teachers have said that teacher capability, the supply of suitable teachers and the attraction and recruitment of new staff are the top three workforce challenges for schools today, and were expected to remain so in 2024.
The negative impact of workload and increasing administration and compliance expectations on their school workforce over the next three years are concerning for teachers but despite the challenges of the pandemic, many participants saw the potential of investing in leadership, professional development, school culture and staff wellbeing to have a positive impact on the workforce.
PeopleBench’s State of the Sector Report 2021, provides a snapshot of the workforce challenges and opportunities facing school leaders, teachers and support staff across Government, Catholic and Independent schools across Australia.
“We need to think about how we redesign the way schools do schooling, and the impact that this will have on the role and job of being a teacher. The absence of, and need for, strategy and processes that drive successful organisational and role design from the top are fundamental challenges to address across the sector,” PeopleBench CEO Fleur Johnston said.
The State of the Sector report collated the perspectives of 469 school leaders, teachers, and Business/HR advisors, with Chief Research Officer Mike Hennessy saying the diversity of participants has provided an in-depth national “health check” of the sector.
“This year’s survey saw a big swing in momentum in terms of the number and diversity of responses, with input from every state and territory and much greater coverage of regional Australia,” Mr Hennessy said.
The vast majority of Principals surveyed (93%) felt confident that the school workforce could execute their vision, a similar finding to the 2019 (pre-pandemic) survey. Considerably fewer Teachers (57%) felt confident.
Geographically, Victorian educators were more likely to feel positive about their roles than those in other states.
When comparing responses by sector, respondents from Government schools were the least likely to report optimistic sentiment (excited, confident, well-prepared).
“Our diversity of data has allowed us to break down the research geographically and by school type. Data is king and the more knowledge we have about the different factors affecting schools, the better schools can make more informed decisions for their school. It is critically important that differences are acknowledged and accounted for in any analysis,” Ms Johnston said.
“The findings suggest that there is a positive challenge for Government education bodies to continue to strive toward lifting school leader perceptions of their access to resources and their sense of independence in decision-making for public schools.”
“HR is a maturing function in schools and we give credit for how far it’s come. There’s still more work to do, particularly as the sector looks to workforce strategy and organisational and job redesign as enablers of new service delivery models and innovative pedagogy,” Ms Johnston said.
While the report focused on a holistic view of the sector, impacts of COVID were important in understanding how the sector is weathering, and continues to adapt to, the pandemic.
“Principals have weathered COVID incredibly well, and their reflections are largely unchanged from our 2019 survey. This is a testament to the profession and to the calibre of the leaders in schools across all three segments right now,” she said.
For more information on the PeopleBench State of the Sector Report 2021 go to https://stateofthesector.peoplebench.com/