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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1997  
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Contents >> Education >> Education & Work: School teachers

Education & Work: School teachers

In 1995 women represented 64% of all teachers and this proportion is expected to increase.

In 1995 there were 221,000 employed teachers in Australia. When counted in terms of full-time equivalent teachers (202,400), half were primary school teachers and half secondary. Most teachers (71%) were employed in government schools, 18% were employed in non-government Catholic schools, a further 4% in non-government Anglican schools and the remaining 7% in other independent schools. A greater proportion of government teachers (53%) were primary school teachers, while the reverse was true in non-government schools, where 57% were secondary school teachers.

School teachers

School teachers are teaching staff in schools who spend the majority of their time teaching students. Teachers aides are excluded although they may have some teaching roles (e.g. as reading teachers). Principals, deputy principals and senior teachers are included although they may be mainly involved in administration.

Full time equivalent (FTE) teachers are a measure of the total levels of staff resources. The FTE of a full-time staff member is equal to 1.0. The calculation of FTE for part-time staff is based on the proportion of time worked compared to full-time staff performing similar duties. Some States base FTE calculations on wages, resource allocations or student/teacher numbers instead of time. Unless otherwise stated, numbers of teachers in this review refer to FTE counts of teachers.

Student/teacher ratios are calculated as the number of full-time students to every FTE teacher. The ratio is not an indicator of class size.

In this review, care should be exercised when comparing pre-1984 schools data with data from 1984 on. The National Schools Statistics Collection was fully implemented in that year. Prior to 1984, data collected from the different States and Territories were not necessarily comparable.


Demand and supply
Changes in the number of teachers in the school system depend on changes in number of students and on the level of teaching resources allocated to students. Over the decade 1975 to 1985, the demand for teachers grew at a faster rate than the growth in number of students. This was because teaching resources per student progressively increased during this period. In 1975 there were 23 primary school pupils per teacher and 15 secondary school pupils per teacher. By 1985 the number of students per teacher had dropped to around 19 in primary schools and 13 in secondary schools. Since then teacher resources relative to student numbers have remained stable. Given this relative stability, the increase in teacher numbers can be associated with the growth in number of school students. Between 1985 and 1995 teacher numbers increased from 90,300 to 101,000 in primary schools and 100,100 to 101,400 in secondary schools.

National trends for student/teacher ratios were not necessarily reflected in each State and Territory. In Victoria, for example, there were more students per teacher in both primary and secondary schools in 1995 than in 1985. There was however, less variation in student/teacher ratios between the States and Territories in 1995 than was the case a decade earlier1.

Graduates from the education field of study constitute the major feeder group for the teaching workforce of the future. The number of students completing education degrees has increased from 22,800 in 1987 to 24,100 in 1995 and the number of students commencing education studies has also increased from 30,500 in 1987 to 32,300 in 1995. However, the number of commencing students in 1995 was lower than those in 1990, 1991 and 1992 (34,700, 37,000 and 33,200 respectively). Together with teacher resignations and retirements, these trends have raised some concerns that there will be an under-supply of appropriately trained teachers over the coming decade2. Other studies suggest that the teaching workforce will remain at sufficient levels to meet demand into the next century3.

STUDENT/TEACHER RATIOS


    (a) In 1984 the National Schools Statistics Collection was fully implemented. Care should be taken when comparing current data with data from before 1984.
    (b) Since 1988 specialist teachers have been separately identified from teachers.

    Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Demographics
In 1995, the majority (64%) of school teachers were female, and school teachers tended on average, to be older than workers in many other professions. 51% of all school teachers (48% of primary school teachers and 54% of secondary school teachers) were aged 40 years and over compared to 47% of all employed professionals and 42% of employed professional women.

Female teachers outnumbered male teachers in every State and Territory in 1995. Nationally, women outnumbered men by a ratio of 1.8:1. Men made up the smallest proportion of teaching staff in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory where female/male ratios were 2.4:1 and 2.3:1, respectively. The representation of men in primary schools has long been much lower than in secondary schools where until 1990 men outnumbered women. In 1995 men represented only 24% of primary school teachers (down from a peak of 30% in 1980) and 48% of secondary school teachers (down from 55% in 1980).

FEMALE/MALE RATIO OF TEACHERS, 1995


Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Increasing representation of women
In 1975, 59% of teachers were women. By 1995 this had increased to 64%. This trend is expected to continue because the balance between the numbers of men and women training to become teachers has also changed. In 1994, 74% of education students graduating from universities were women compared to 69% in 1987.

This trend coincided with a period in which there were also rapid increases in the numbers of women participating in a broad range of higher education courses, paid work and other career development activities (see Education - national summary table; and Work - national summary table). Women may be particularly attracted to teaching as a career, as it has the advantage of longer periods of leave (during school holidays) compared to other professional occupations thus providing greater opportunity to spend time with their own children during their formative years.

Male teachers tend to be slightly older than female teachers (median ages of 40 years and 39 years respectively). With more male teachers due to retire over coming years this difference may increase the proportion of women teachers over time.

Other factors affecting the balance between men and women in teaching may relate to changes in men's perceptions of teaching as a desirable career. Working conditions such as hours of work (paid and unpaid) and salary levels compared to other occupations may be influencing these trends.

PROPORTION OF TEACHERS WHO WERE WOMEN


    (a) In 1984 the National Schools Statistics Collection was fully implemented. Care should be taken when comparing current data with data from before 1984.
    (b) Since 1988 specialist teachers have been separately identified from teachers.
    Source: Schools, Australia (cat. no. 4221.0).


Hours worked and earnings
In the May 1995 ABS employer-based survey concerned with employee earnings and hours, employers reported that full-time school teachers were paid (on average) for working 37 hours per week. Teachers, along with some other professionals, were generally not paid for any overtime worked. In comparison, all employed persons were paid for 38 hours per week (on average), and if overtime is included, 40 hours per week.

However the hours per week that teachers themselves reported working (in the ABS Labour Force Survey, August 1995) were greater than those for which they were paid and often longer than those reported by people in other occupations. Of primary and secondary teachers who worked full time (more than 35 hours a week), 48% worked 45 hours or more. This compares to averages for all full-time workers among whom 43% worked 45 hours or more. 47% of primary school teachers worked 45 hours or more compared to 50% of secondary teachers.

Full-time school teachers in 1995 earned on average $750 per week, which placed them among the lower paid professionals. There was a clear relationship between earnings and the sector of teaching. University teachers had the highest average earnings and pre-primary, the lowest. Among para-professionals, police earned on average more than both primary and secondary teachers. Registered nurses earned more than primary teachers but less than secondary teachers. This was, in part, a reflection of the fact that police and nurses were more likely to be paid for their actual hours worked.

Average earnings of full-time teachers have remained above earnings for all occupations. However they have continued to fall below the average earnings of professional employees. Over the period 1987 to 1995, the earnings of teachers fell from 96% of the earnings of all professionals to 91%.

Over the same period, the average weekly earnings of female teachers have increased at a greater rate than that of male teachers. This may be related to their increasing participation in secondary school teaching as secondary teachers earned more than primary teachers.

AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS AND HOURS OF FULL-TIME NON-MANAGERIAL ADULT EMPLOYEES, 1995

Earnings(a)
Hours(b)


Men
Women
Total
Total
Selected occupations
$
$
$
hours

Professionals
876.10
757.50
820.30
37.7
    University and CAE teachers
1,091.20
891.00
1,024.10
36.7
    Electrical and electronics engineers
952.10
889.20
948.10
37.8
    Lawyers
986.90
809.70
902.60
36.8
    Journalists
963.60
812.10
894.80
38.6
    Veterinarians
940.30
631.20
890.50
40.4
    Computing professionals
879.20
820.40
862.40
38.3
    TAFE teachers
829.10
797.00
816.90
36.4
    Secondary school teachers
784.70
762.00
772.20
36.4
    Primary school teachers
743.60
726.60
730.50
37.0
    Social workers
732.50
695.10
705.00
37.5
    Librarians
697.30
692.00
693.00
36.4
    Pre-primary school teachers
669.10
632.10
633.40
37.4
Para-professionals
801.60
703.20
766.90
39.1
    Registered nurses
787.50
755.70
760.60
38.3
    Police
830.50
756.50
818.90
39.1
Other occupations
    Teachers' aides
502.30
416.50
421.30
34.1
All occupations
697.70
587.10
655.50
39.9

(a) Total average income including overtime.
(b) Total hours paid for including overtime, as reported by employers. This may differ from the number of hours actually worked, as reported by employees in the Labour Force Survey.

Source: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (cat. no. 6306.0).

RATIO OF SCHOOL TEACHER EARNINGS TO PROFESSIONAL AND TOTAL EMPLOYEE EARNINGS


Source: Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia (cat. no. 6306.0).


Endnotes
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996, Education and Training in Australia, cat. no. 4224.0, ABS, Canberra.

2 Preston, B. 1997, Teacher Supply and Demand to 2003: Projections, Implications and Issues, Australian Council of Deans of Education, Canberra.

3 Department of Employment, Education and Training 1995, Australia's Workforce 2005: Jobs in the Future, AGPS, Canberra.



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