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Understanding Australian secondary teachers’ job satisfaction

Media release 6 minute read

New analysis from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) shows the majority of Australian lower secondary teachers reported being satisfied with their profession, work environment, terms of employment and salary prior to COVID-19.

ACER’s analysis of data from the latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of Year 7 to 10 teachers, conducted in 2018, reveals:

  • more than 90 per cent of teachers in Australia and across the OECD on average reported being satisfied with their job and enjoying working in their school
  • 88 per cent of Australian teachers agreed that the advantages of being a teacher clearly outweigh the disadvantages, compared to the OECD average of 76 per cent
  • 83 per cent of Australian teachers said that they would still choose to work as a teacher if given the choice again, compared to an OECD average of 76 per cent.

While more than 80 per cent of teachers recommended their current school as a good place to work, 25 per cent of Australian teachers and 20 per cent of teachers on average across the OECD reported that they would like to change to another school if that were possible. This was particularly the case for teachers in schools with high concentrations of socioeconomically disadvantaged students, where 35 per cent indicated they wanted to change schools compared to 23 per cent of those in schools with less disadvantage.

Discussing the results, ACER Deputy CEO (Research) Dr Sue Thomson said, “A relatively large proportion of the variance in Australian teachers’ satisfaction with their current work environment is accounted for by school factors. The OECD suggests that countries in this situation might find it more effective to intervene at the school level, rather than at the teacher level.” 

TALIS also reveals that around two-thirds of Australian lower secondary teachers report being satisfied with their salary, compared to less than half across the OECD on average. Australian teachers also reported higher rates of satisfaction with other terms of their employment, such as their work schedule and employment benefits, compared to the OECD average.

Teacher satisfaction with salaries and other employment terms was lower in publicly managed schools than in privately managed schools, both in Australia and across the OECD on average. Salary satisfaction was also lower among Australian teachers in schools with high concentrations of disadvantaged or immigrant students. Australian teachers working part-time were slightly less likely to report being satisfied with their employment terms, while teachers who were able to participate in school governance were more than twice as likely to report being satisfied.

“Our analysis suggests teachers’ satisfaction with their terms of employment is more strongly associated with the support they receive for continuous professional development and their participation in the governance of the school than it is with specific contractual arrangements such as fixed-term or part-time work,” Dr Thomson said.

“This is an important consideration for teacher retention strategies, as the data also confirm that teachers who are satisfied with their employment terms are more likely to report wanting to continue working as teachers, and to do so in the same school.”

Dr Thomson said since these data were collected, the context in which teachers and school leaders work has changed completely.

“It is unknown the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will affect teacher satisfaction, or whether the experience of remote learning will help raise the community standing of teachers and their perception of their value within the community,” Dr Thomson said.

TALIS was conducted in 2018 in 31 OECD countries and economies and 17 partner countries and economies. A nationally representative sample of 3573 teachers of lower secondary (Year 7 to 10) students completed the TALIS questionnaires in Australia. Data from lower secondary principals, and primary teachers and principals was also collected.

ACER conducted TALIS 2018 in Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth and state and territory departments of education. The Australian report released today complements the international report released by the OECD in March, providing more detail on Australia’s results. It explores data on teacher career opportunities, collaboration, autonomy and prestige that was not included in the Volume 1 report released in November 2019, which focused on teacher knowledge and skills and the teaching context.

The Teaching and Learning International Survey 2018. Australian Report Volume 2: Teachers and School Leaders as Valued Professionals, by Sue Thomson and Kylie Hillman (Australian Council for Educational Research, 2020) is available at  


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