Rockliff Government must follow Victoria’s Lead and make University teaching degrees free

Australian Education Union Tasmania is calling on the Rockliff Government to follow proactive measures interstate by making teacher university degrees free to help tackle the teacher shortage.

Meanwhile, new data released today shows full-time classroom teachers in 2022 reported working more than 15 hours of unpaid time per week, well over 50 hours total, as workload pressures soar.

The Victorian Government this week announced a $229.8m package including free university teaching degrees from next year in a bid to boost the supply of teachers.

Tasmania is in the grips of a chronic teacher shortage, with classes combining into excessive numbers statewide and students falling behind. 

AEU Tasmania President David Genford said Tasmania was falling behind other states in addressing growing educational issues.

“What we’re seeing in Victoria and elsewhere are significant and progressive initiatives to tackle the teacher shortage,” he said.

“Yet in Tasmania where schools, particularly in regional areas, are facing severe teacher shortages, have little direction from the Rockliff Government about how it plans to dig our state out of this crisis.”

“The Rockliff Government should take note of interstate progress on teacher shortages and invest in education and training to ensure our schools are properly staffed and resourced. 

“While it won’t immediately fix the crisis we’re in, making university education study free for prospective teachers is one step in the right direction; and will lessen the workload burden on current educators.”

Victoria’s School Workforce package also includes scholarships to help student teachers with cost of living, incentive payments for new teachers and workload reductions for graduate teachers with extra preparation time. It also includes additional mentoring and an expansion $50,000 incentive payments to teachers willing to work in rural, remote and otherwise hard-to-staff positions in public schools.

It comes as data released today from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership shows weekly work hours had ballooned to an average of 53.7 hours per week for full-time classroom teachers, 58.6 hours for senior leaders, and 55.3 hours for middle leaders.

It also showed the proportion of the teacher workforce who report their intention to remain in the profession until retirement has declined in recent years from a high of 46 per cent in 2020 to 31 per cent in 2022.

Mr Genford said both levels of government must invest more in Tasmanian schools now to prevent the teacher crisis getting worse.

“Tasmania currently receives only 90.1 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard funding – meaning our schools and students miss out on $118m in investment every year,” he said.

“As a result, there is effectively no funding for 1 in 10 students in our schools. This is a Government shame.

“With full and fair funding Tasmania could achieve smaller class sizes and more individual support for children in classrooms that aren’t crippled by daily teacher shortages.”