A headmaster said better pay and a free bush ride would encourage teachers to follow their profession in regional schools in South Australia.
- Regional schools have faced long-term problems finding teaching staff
- Riverland principal says more incentives needed to attract teachers
- The education sector wants to ensure that a new push to recruit teachers nationwide will mean more regional staff
Federal Education Minister Jason Clare yesterday called on his state and territory counterparts to meet to create a national strategy to stop educators leaving the field and attract more people to the profession.
He said the shortage was not about the flu and COVID-19 infections preventing teachers from entering the classroom, but about a drop in the number of people entering the profession and an increase in the number of teachers leaving.
Rivergum Christian College principal Jessica Richards said it was a familiar trend in regional education.
“Something like 50% of teachers drop out within their first five years of teaching,” Ms Richards said.
She said teachers were an aging population because younger teachers weren’t coming in to keep up with the demand.
“The pressure on teachers means they don’t hold up for the long haul because there’s so much being demanded of teachers these days,” Mr Richards said.
“Why would you stay in education when there are other options available to you, even though education is such a vital part of our society?”
The regional relay should be “encouraged”
SA Department of Education chief executive Martin Westwell said the department was looking at incentive options for regional teachers.
He said the department is looking for ways to create internships for education students to experience life in the country.
“We want the right people to move to rural areas who will get the most out of their lives and be quality teachers for our students,” Westwell said.
Catholic Education South Australia The director of education for the Diocese of Port Pirie, Nicchi Mardon, said the education sector should “strongly encourage” teachers to work in regional areas.
“We know that when people come to our communities, they don’t just come to a school, but to a city and a regional community and find it very rewarding,” she said.
“There may be incentives as part of it, but the heart of it that draws people to come and stay is actually to experience an amazing community.”
Investing in the next generation
Ms Richards said covering moving costs and better pay for regional teachers were the first incentives to consider.
She said while regional education comes with its own challenges, it is rewarding work that offers unique experiences.
“There’s nothing quite like seeing an ‘a-ha’ moment when something clicks for a student where they jump to a whole new level of understanding a task,” Ms Richards said.
“I believe hugely in the next generation and we really need to invest in these young people and what better way to do that through education.”