The challenges of staffing schools in a cosmopolitan nation: Rethinking the recruitment and retention of teachers in Australia through a spatial lens

Philip Roberts, Natalie DOWNES

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapter

Abstract

There is ongoing debate in Australia as to whether there is a looming shortage of teachers or an oversupply. What this debate overlooks are the existing, and perennial, challenges of attracting and retaining teachers in some school contexts and specific secondary subject areas. These challenges have been addressed through a range of incentives for pre-service teachers and early career teachers. Generally, they are aimed at attraction to these ‘hard-to-staff’ schools through financial incentives and guaranteed mobility. Retention is similarly addressed through financial benefits that increase with service, enhanced access to professional learning, and modified employment conditions. However, these have not, to date, significantly had an impact on the ongoing challenges of staffing these schools.

In this chapter we outline the approaches used for getting teachers into, and retaining them in, ‘hard-to-staff’ schools of Australia. We particularly focus upon the challenges of rural, regional and remote schools. We suggest that the characteristic often overlooked in existing approaches is the spatial dimension. In a nation where over 85 per cent of the population live in urban areas within 50 kilometres of the coast, urban sensibilities, informed by notions of cosmopolitanism, are writ large in the social and cultural landscape. Hard-to-staff rural, regional and remote schools exist beyond this imagined society, as do hard-to-staff urban schools which are often characterised by their social segregation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Subtitle of host publicationContextual Challenges from International Perspectives
EditorsTanya Ovenden-hope, Rowena Passy
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter17
Pages221-231
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429021824
ISBN (Print)9780367076450
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020

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