Reforming the labour market for Australian teachers

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 28/04

Date: October 2004


Elizabeth Webster
Mark Wooden
Gary Marks


This paper reviews the Australian evidence on the presence of chronic shortages of mathematics and science teachers and on the loss of excellent teachers from the classroom. Although there are no rigorous Australian studies on these issues, the best available evidence suggests that these problems exist. Overseas information suggests that chronic shortages occur because fewer science and mathematics graduates, compared to humanities and social science students, are attracted to the tasks involved in teaching children. Attraction is a matter of degree however, and higher earnings can be used in order to attract more of the scarce mathematics and science graduates, who also have an aptitude towards teaching, to a teaching career. Higher earnings can also be used to reduce attrition of the most able teachers from all of the discipline areas.

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