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Training teachers move into full-time positions to deal with staffing shortages in schools

Rebecca Stretton was just a few months away from her education degree when she took on a full class load earlier this year.

“It was very surreal,” she said.

“I kind of had a looping moment, having come to high school myself here at Mount Isa.

“Standing in front of the class of children here was a very big moment of realization.”

The Professor of English and Humanities at Good Shepherd Catholic College in Mount Isa was one of 491 people to be licensed to teach (PTT) in 2022 in Queensland.

Rebecca Stretton admits it was daunting to enter a career with such high burnout rates.(Provided: Townsville Catholic Education)

The program, which allows teachers who have not completed their education to take on roles in the classroom, has been around for more than a decade.

But participation in public schools has doubled by this time last year as they scramble to fill gaping gaps in teaching staff.

Queensland Teachers’ Union chief representative Joel Buchholz said schools had been forced to think outside the square to help address shortages.

“Schools have had to become more and more innovative and creative in terms of how they recruit and recruit people and retain them in front of classes,” he said.

“In the current context, schools are looking to explore alternative options to ensure that we provide continuity in the delivery of the program to students.”

His North Queensland secondary school currently has three approved PTT agreements.

“More Pain Ahead”

Public schools in Queensland are already short of around 500 teachers, up from more than 100 at this time last year.

National modeling shows demand for secondary teachers across Australia will outpace graduates by more than 4,100 teachers over the next three years.

A dozen young school children standing outside with hats.
Public schools in Queensland are already short of around 500 teachers.(PA: Dan Peled)

James Cook University produces around 200 teaching graduates each year, many of whom stay in regional and remote areas.

Associate Dean of Professional Experience and Accreditation Associate Professor Louisa Tomas Engel expressed concern about the projected shortfall.

“I think there will probably be more pain to come,” she said.

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