USC classes boom as teacher shortage looms

While Australia is facing an impending shortage of schoolteachers, USC looks set to graduate a record number of students from its postgraduate education programs over the next two years.

Ahead of World Teachers’ Day (celebrated in Queensland on Friday 30 October), USC’s Deputy Head of School of Education Dr Susan Simon said enrolments in postgraduate Education programs at USC this semester had almost doubled from Semester 2 last year.

“Normally we would have had 50, but this semester we have 90 people commencing in the Master of Teaching programs, which often appeal to non-school leavers with degrees who are considering a change of career,” Dr Simon said.

“They can range from doctors, scientists, accountants, or people from the arts sector – anyone passionate about sharing their knowledge with future generations, or even to find more secure employment.”

A 2017-2019 Quality Indicators for Teaching and Learning survey showed that 92.2 percent of postgraduate education graduates from USC had found employment at the time of the survey.

Dr Simon said a national shortage of schoolteachers had been forecast across the whole range of teaching areas and phases of schooling, with a particular need to ensure sufficient numbers for rural and remote areas of Queensland.

“Population growth in areas such as we are experiencing here on the Sunshine Coast, for example, means that we are going to need more teachers,” she said.

“This means we need to be more proactive now about getting more great teachers into the profession, and many of these teachers aim to work here in our local schools once qualified.”

As well as the postgraduate education programs, USC also offers undergraduate Bachelor of Education programs in both Primary Education and Secondary Education as pathways to becoming a teacher.

Enrolments for USC’s undergraduate education programs rose from 153 in Semester 2 last year to 208 in Semester 2 this year. These programs currently have an 86.8 percent employment success rate.

In all pathways, students complete early classroom immersion to solidify their motivations for becoming teachers, and gain skills in leading large groups of learners.

Dr Simon said the pandemic lockdown had increased public appreciation for teaching as a profession, as parents across Australia found themselves supporting their children’s learning from home.

“We have close relationships with teachers and school principals across the region and since lockdown they have noticed an increased admiration for the complexity of the profession and what it requires,” she said.

“This might also have influenced people’s decision to change career direction and become a teacher. I decided to do my teacher education when my children were little because I could see the importance of contributing to students’ learning, as I was already immersed in the experience.”

Dr Simon said World Teachers’ Day was a great opportunity to celebrate what teachers do in their everyday work and acknowledge the extraordinary challenges they had overcome this year.

“The amount of work teachers had to put in to transfer learning to an online environment was massive, while they also continued to care for their students in a pastoral way and monitored how they were getting on at home,” she said.

“Our teachers have done a magnificent job in very difficult circumstances.”

Applications are open to study at USC in 2021.

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