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Australian teachers’ education spending priorities
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Australian teachers’ education spending priorities

Research 4 minute read

Analysis of survey data by ACER Deputy CEO Dr Sue Thomson reveals that Australian teachers see the recruitment of more staff as the most important priority area for intervention and additional spending in Australian education.

The analysis, published today in Teacher, draws on Australian teachers’ responses to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS).

Dr Thomson reports that, when asked to rate the importance of a number of priorities if the education budget were to be increased by five per cent, almost two thirds of primary teachers (62 per cent) and secondary teachers (59 per cent) gave high priority to ‘reducing teachers’ administration load by recruiting more support staff’.

A similar proportion of teachers also gave high priority to ‘reducing class sizes by recruiting more staff’. According to Dr Thomson, reducing class sizes was particularly a priority for Australian teachers who worked in schools with a high proportion of students with behavioural problems and also for those in schools with large proportions of refugee students.

Support for students with special needs was another priority area for additional spending, rated as of high importance by 61 per cent of primary teachers and 47 per cent of lower secondary teachers.

Dr Thomson said it is noteworthy that Australian teachers were particularly focused on spending priorities that would improve teaching, and that fewer than half of the Australian primary and lower secondary teachers rated salary increases as a high priority. According to Dr Thomson, school context and motivational factors could be a factor in teachers’ tendency to prioritise salary increases.

‘Encouragingly, in Australia and internationally, the vast majority of teachers in Australia and across the OECD indicated that altruistic reasons motivated their career choice,’ Dr Thomson said.

Between 80 and 98 per cent of Australian teachers indicated that the fact that ‘teaching allowed me to influence the development of children and young people’, ‘teaching allowed me to provide a contribution to society’ and ‘teaching allowed me to benefit the socially disadvantaged’ was of moderate to high importance.

Practical reasons for becoming a teacher – job security, a reliable income, the work schedule and a steady career path – were rated as of moderate or high importance by between 58 and 83 per cent of Australian teachers.

TALIS has been conducted every five years since 2008, with ACER managing Australia’s participation in each cycle.

The 2018 cycle marks the first time that Australia has surveyed primary school teachers and principals in addition to secondary school educators. A total of 3030 primary school teachers and 223 primary school principals, and 3573 lower secondary (Years 7-10) teachers and 230 secondary principals completed Australia’s TALIS questionnaires.

The first volume of results from TALIS 2018 was published in November 2019. ACER will publish further analysis of survey responses in a second volume national report later this year. ■

Read the full article:
Teachers’ priorities for education spending’, written by Sue Thomson and published in Teacher magazine, is available at <www.teachermagazine.com.au/columnists/sue-thomson>