Financial incentives for regional teachers pitched to help fill SA skill shortage – Michmutters

Financial incentives for regional teachers pitched to help fill SA skill shortage

A principal says better pay and a free ride to the bush would encourage teachers to follow their profession in regional South Australian schools.

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 to attract more people to the profession.

He said the shortage wasn’t about flu and COVID-19 infections keeping teachers out of the classroom, but a drop in people entering the profession and an increase in educators leaving.

Rivergum Christian College principal Jessica Richards said it was a familiar trend in regional education.

A young student raises his hand in a classroom setting.
Jason Clare has called on states and territories to address Australia’s teaching shortage. (ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

“Something like 50 per cent of teachers quit in their first five years of teaching,” Ms Richards said.

She said teachers were an aging population because younger teachers were not coming in to meet demand.

“The pressure on teachers means they aren’t sticking it out for the long haul because there’s just so much that’s demanded of teachers these days,” Mr Richards said.

“Why would you stay in education when there’s other options available to you, even though education is such a vital part of our society?”

Regional stint should be ‘encouraged’

SA Department of Education chief executive Martin Westwell said the department was looking at incentive options for regional teachers.

A woman stands in front of a classroom of children
Extra pay could encourage teachers to move to regional areas.(AAP: Dan Peled)

He said the department was looking at ways to create placements for education students to experience living in the country.

“We want the right people moving to country areas that are going to make the most out of living there and be quality teachers for our students,” Mr Westwell said.

Catholic Education South Australia Port Pirie Diocese education director Nicchi Mardon said the education sector needed to “strongly encourage” teachers to work in regional areas.

A woman with blonde hair and black glasses smiling for a portrait photo.
Nichii Mardon wants steps taken to strongly encourage teachers to regional areas. (Supplied: Catholic Education SA)

“We know that when people come into our communities they not only come into a school, but a town and regional community and find it so rewarding,” she said.

“There can be incentives as a part of that, but the heart of it that attracts people to come and for them to 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 that needed to be considered.

A woman in a white jumper wearing glasses smiling at a camera.
Ms Richards hopes more people can realize teaching is a rewarding profession. (ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

She said while regional education came with its own set of challenges, it was a rewarding job which offered unique experiences.

“There’s nothing quite like seeing an ‘a-ha’ moment where something clicks for a student where they go to a whole other level of their understanding of a task,” Ms Richards said.

“I’m a huge believer in the next generation and we really need to invest in these young people and what better way to do that through education.”


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