Students squeezed out of class as Rockliff Government ignores teacher pleas

Classes of more than 45 students are prompting children to stay home as the Rockliff Government continues refusing pleas to address teacher shortages and a lack of in-class support in Tasmanian schools.

The 2023 school year has started with a crisis worsening in Tasmanian schools and colleges as calls grow for significant investment to address unacceptable working and learning conditions.

Australian Education Union State Manager Brian Wightman said the state’s teacher shortage had reached boiling point this year – with positions left unfilled and absence rates at a high – hurting student learning and mounting pressure on educators.

“The Rockliff Government is failing our students and educators by refusing to address, and fix, a neglected education system where student learning is suffering and teachers are burning out,” he said.

“Premier Rockliff’s mishandling of education in Tasmania was put on notice 18 months ago by the AEU as the state’s education crisis worsened, yet nothing has been done to alleviate the stresses being felt in our schools.

“Now record numbers of teachers have walked away and it’s our students who are suffering.

“It’s crystal clear more in-class support and professional support staff are needed in our classrooms as a matter of urgency, or we will risk more students falling through the cracks and more educators walking away from the profession.”

Calls for classroom support come amid reports some classes are bursting with over 45 students, forced to operate, at times, without a teacher assistant. 

Students in these environments were reportedly choosing not to attend because class sizes were too large.

Significant teacher shortages across the opening weeks of 2023 continue to affect student learning, with many principals and assistant principals forced to take classes to fill gaps.

“The Rockliff Government says they care about school attendance, but instead they are squeezing students out of class by failing to address the teacher burnout that sees classes balloon to over 45 students,” Mr Wightman said. 

“No student or educator should have to experience that situation and there can be no guarantee of quality learning in such an environment. 

“These instances are unacceptable, yet far too common across Tasmanian schools when teachers don’t get the respect and support they need.

“Premier Rockliff cannot continue letting our students down by ignoring the solutions needed to lift learning in this state.

“Teachers, principals and support staff are fed up and are prepared to take further stop-work action until the Rockliff Government wakes up to this crisis.”