Dear Members of the Kolbe Catholic College Community

You may be aware from recent reports in the media that the nation’s Education Ministers are meeting to discuss concerns over future teacher shortages. I have included an excerpt from a transcript of an ABC Radio National interview with the Federal Minister for Education, Jason Clare and journalist Patricia Karvelas:

PATRICIA KARVELAS: They’re burnt out, overwhelmed by reporting requirements and not paid enough. Teachers are voting with their feet, leaving the profession in numbers we’ve never seen before. As a result, the nation’s Education Ministers will meet today to thrash out plans to overhaul the profession, to help lure qualified people back into the classroom amid a nation-wide shortage.

The Federal Education Minister is Jason Clare, and he joins me ahead of the roundtable.

Minister, welcome to RN Breakfast.


KARVELAS: Is the teaching profession in crisis?

CLARE: This is a massive challenge. It’s one of the biggest challenges we face in education. It’s why I’ve made it priority number one for this meeting and why we’re going to spend half the day focused on this. But you can’t fix this by just having ministers talk to each other. It’s the reason why I’ve invited not just state and territory ministers to talk about this today but also teachers from across the country, principals from across the country and other experts. There aren’t many jobs in the country more important than being a teacher and we just don’t have enough of them at the moment. So we need to work on new ideas to help us attract more people to become teachers and help keep the fantastic teachers we’ve already got in the classrooms.

I agree with Minister Clare, this is a massive challenge and there is no one simple solution. For example, in a world first study, Associate Professor Nicole Mockler, explored how teachers were portrayed in the media from 1996 to 2020. Professor Mockler states “I looked at more than 65000 media articles from all 12 national and capital city daily newspapers, including all articles that mentioned teacher and/or teachers 3 times or more…My research argues the way teachers are talked about in the media has a flow-on effect to how people feel about becoming a teacher, and how current teachers see their place in the community”. Professor Mockler’s research reaches three conclusions about the media coverage:

  1. We are fixated on teacher quality
  2. Teachers’ work is made out to be simple (it’s not) and
  3. Teacher-bashing is the norm

It is not my role as Principal of Kolbe Catholic College to make judgements about media coverage and maybe they are simply reflecting societal perspectives. If the perception and the subsequent messaging has been negative, I would like to counter this and categorically state that I believe in teachers. In partnership with families, teachers can engage, encourage and enthuse young people. They open, previously unexplored, pathways for faith development, career opportunity and/or improved self-esteem. Every day I am privileged to witness excellent teachers educate and inspire young people in a Catholic school environment.

I cannot solve the national problem, but, as Principal of Kolbe Catholic College, it is my role to retain and recruit the best possible teachers for our school. In Term 2 we consulted our teaching staff to ensure we were providing them a voice to raise concerns about their own workplace conditions. This resulted in a significant number of adjustments to workloads and expectations. While achieving this, we have also embarked on an extensive recruitment campaign, including the billboard on the Tullamarine Freeway, a recruitment evening and even investigating the best possible international recruitment options. We have recently appointed another four excellent teachers to the College for a 2023 start.

To conclude, teachers are human and will not get everything right, but I watch them work very hard for your children. If your son or daughter has had a good experience with a particular teacher and you find a spare moment, I invite you to send the teacher a message of encouragement.

Nick Scully

Faith and Community