Like many of you reading this, I was drawn to education because I wanted to help young people succeed. Over the past few years I’ve seen firsthand how tough it is for teachers, and I know we can be doing more to bring the joy back into teaching for the thousands of committed, incredible teachers and educators working across Australia.
It’s absolutely no secret that Australian teachers are stretched and under-resourced. We’ve also known for 10+ years there is a major undersupply of new teachers and challenges in recruiting and retaining them. It’s something that’s led Federal Education Minister Jason Clare to commit $337 million on the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan––which is aimed at resolving teacher shortages.
A Department of Education review found that the most important factor to improve student outcomes is by reducing teacher workloads. Teachers aren’t just overworked; they’re often teaching in fields that they aren’t qualified for, adding to their workloads and stress. This is particularly true in the Humanities and STEM.
Recent AITSL workforce data shows that Humanities subjects are taught out-of-field between 36% and 46% of the time. Mathematics is taught by out-of-field teachers 40% of the time. And specialist STEM subjects have high out-of-field teaching rates with 41% in Physics, 38% in Chemistry, and 41% in Biology.
The critical importance of STEM skills
We’re hearing from the thousands of schools we partner with that they’re struggling to find qualified and experienced teachers. They are often having to make impossible resourcing decisions while wanting to ensure quality learning for students, particularly in specialist senior subjects.
We know STEM skills are highly sought after. Students who graduate with such experiences are not only more likely to get jobs––they’ll earn more too. The National Skills Commission’s Skills Priority List 2022 shows that software and applications programmers are the second most in-demand skills in Australia.
Unfortunately, STEM involvement is currently low with just 10% or fewer Australian students in Years 11 and 12 studying these subjects. And whilst our plummet in international benchmarks is alarming, all of us in education ultimately want every student to experience success. At Edrolo, we see firsthand the amazing STEM programs and learning happening in schools across Australia. The question I lay awake at night pondering (yes I do!), is how we make this possible for every school, for every lesson, despite all the challenges schools are facing. That is what I want to help solve. Every child in Australia (and my own two 11 and 13 year old children) deserve to have the opportunity to learn and thrive in every subject, and ultimately pick their favourites to pursue in the senior years and beyond.
I worry that NAPLAN results are almost entirely predictable – we have not materially changed the system to create a different and better outcome. What’s worse, we often lay the blame at the feet of those who need our help – teachers.
Quality resources improve teaching and learning
One key factor in solving this issue for teachers and students alike is the availability of flexible, quality resources.
The Grattan Institute has found that having a common repository of high-quality curriculum materials can boost the learning experience for teachers and students across subjects. Via shared materials, teachers gain access to a common foundation to ensure teachers’ knowledge is adequate and education is standardised for the benefit of students.
This is something we’re committed to helping deliver at Edrolo. Our team of highly experienced teachers collaborate and write our curriculum materials, just like they would in school. They do so in partnership with our leading team of designers and engineers, meaning our resources are built to both be effective in the classroom and to be used at scale. In short, we’re creating the very best resources to help teachers across Australia do their best work. They’re designed to build students’ deep conceptual learning with a combination of concise theory, scaffolded questions and activities that develop skills and understanding, and videos to help students make progress.
Reducing the burden on teachers
Access to these resources is a huge time-saver for teachers. The Grattan Institute found that a typical teacher who has access to quality curriculum materials can save three hours a week in lesson planning. Grattan also found that teachers with access to the right materials are more likely to feel satisfied by their school’s approach to lesson planning and have a shared understanding of effective teaching. This is a win-win!
Time-poor teachers are too often left to fend for themselves, creating lessons from scratch, or scouring the internet and social media for materials. As a team of teachers ourselves, we also know you often have to adapt materials for your students or context, so everything we produce is editable and flexible to fit in with how teachers prefer to teach. This is about lightening the load when it comes to prep, so teachers can focus on the many other parts of what happens in any lesson.
To find out more and to see the 2024 Edrolo catalogue, click here.