How can we tackle the teacher shortage? Let’s focus on retention
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How can we tackle the teacher shortage? Let’s focus on retention

How can we tackle the teacher shortage? Let’s focus on retention

Tim Waley discusses the Tes Wellbeing Survey results and how the many stresses facing teachers today could be tackled.

The past few years have been among the most challenging in living memory for schools. The worst of the pandemic may now be behind us (hopefully, at least), but we are facing a teacher shortage crisis, leaving schools scrambling for staff and students paying the price.

The issues that got us to this point are numerous and nuanced and cannot be resolved with quick fixes. Like a ship with numerous leaks, school shortages cannot be resolved with makeshift plugs. But a considered and forward- looking approach to staff management may support schools to develop and retain brilliant staff.

TES WELLBEING SURVEY

At Tes, we’ve been empowering educators for more than a century and we are committed to enabling schools to flourish. And so, in order to better understand what would support educators to stay in the profession, we conducted a survey of Australian school staff, from graduates to Principals.

Tim Waley is Executive Consultant at Tes Australia and has more than 30 years experience as a principal in Australia.

The results were clear: although Australian staff continue to be confident, motivated and retain strong relationships with their students, they face many struggles, from spiralling workloads to feeling that their voices are not heard and that they are not sufficiently valued by leaders. The good news is that the results of the survey offer clear guidance about where improvements can be made to boost wellbeing and, with it, retention. Communication between leadership and staff, for example, can be improved fairly simply. Above all, our survey results show how crucial it is for senior leaders to make wellbeing a key focus in their schools, for the benefit of all, including themselves.

Nonetheless, almost half of respondents said that they are working towards goals that matter to them. By ensuring that staff are given access to the training they need and the space to discuss, develop and work towards meaningful goals, with regular feedback, leaders are likely to see an improvement in teacher wellbeing, confidence and student outcomes. Making sure that staff feel heard and understood is a top priority for effective leaders; doing so has been proven to improve confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness among employees. But respondents say this still isn’t happening quite enough in Australian schools at the moment. Our results show that less than a third of staff (28%) feel they are given a voice in how decisions are made in their school, with more than 44% saying that they are not. There are easy-to- implement approaches that can improve this, such as anonymous online surveys, which offer a safe space for staff to share their views honestly and openly (perhaps letting off steam when needed!) and enable leaders to get a clear picture of the working environment and any issues that need addressing.

Accessing the right professional development was highlighted as an area of improvement by respondents to the survey.

There can be no doubt that this has been a tough time for Australian schools, with leaders, teachers and students facing unprecedented challenges. What our survey highlights, however, is the resilience of the profession, with staff remaining confident in their abilities and maintaining strong relationships with colleagues and students alike. That said, there are clearly areas where schools need to improve, and quickly. Work-life balance, flexibility and workload were all cited as key concerns, and leaders would be wise to explore the many options available to improve these, from flexible timetabling to more part-time opportunities.

These challenges are not insurmountable. By offering staff the right support, training and knowledge that their voices are heard and understood, leaders can inspire an upward shift in wellbeing at their schools, and make sure their communities are thriving. And that’s why we’ve created our new Staff Management subscription; an all-in-one software suite, specifically built for Australia and New Zealand, that brings together our tried-and- trusted tools for job advertising, professional development and wellbeing, in one place, for one annual price. It enables schools to take a proactive approach to retention and create a thriving environment of happy, high-performing staff, who want to stay for the long term.

Tim Waley is Executive Consultant at Tes Australia, part of Tes Global – the international provider of education software and recruitment solutions. Tim has more than 30 years of experience as a principal in Australia, the Middle East and Asia. He has served as president of Independent Schools Tasmania, as an ISCA board member, an AHISA member and in a variety of capacities on state education bodies in Tasmania.

For further information visit, tes.com/staff-management

Tim Waley is Executive Consultant at Tes Australia, part of Tes Global – the international provider of education software and recruitment solutions. Tim has more than 30 years of experience as a principal in Australia, the Middle East and Asia. He has served as president of Independent Schools Tasmania, as an ISCA board member, an AHISA member and in a variety of capacities on state education bodies in Tasmania.

This article was originally published in Education Matters Secondary Magazine – to read the issue download it here. 

 

 

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