Study puts teacher pay into perspective

21 October, 2020

New research shows teachers’ salaries have been slipping behind that of other professionals for 30 years, with female and male teachers earning just 93% and 84% of average professional salaries, respectively.

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the University of Sydney research findings reinforced our union’s ongoing campaign for the teaching profession to be adequately recognised and remunerated.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have shown the true value of the teaching profession through collective strength, adaptability and fortitude,” Mr Burke said.

“Teachers perform an extraordinarily complex and important job, which all Australians benefit from, and teacher salaries should reflect this,” he said.

“This latest research also reinforces the importance of union membership for teachers and others working in the education sector.

“Our union’s priority is to fight for professional recognition for teachers, including enhanced pay and employment conditions that reflect teachers’ vital role in educating our young people.”

Experienced teachers’ pay rates need revision

The report also acknowledged that while entry level salaries for graduate teachers were relatively high, the top of the pay scale was compressed compared to teaching colleagues in many OECD countries and most other professions in Australia.

In his recommendations, the study’s author Professor John Buchanan suggested there should be a minimum 10-15% increase in teachers’ pay to restore relativities to pay rates and to ensure they are competitive in the Australian labour market.

“Experienced teachers are paid significantly less than other professionals in Australia including lawyers, doctors, engineers and ICT professionals,” the report said.

Higher pay linked to higher national achievement

Although contemporary studies of the relationship between teacher salary and student outcomes are few, a 2002 study of teacher salaries (OECD data) and student achievement (PISA data) from 30 countries showed countries with higher salaries for experienced teachers had higher national academic achievement.

”From an employer perspective, increasing pay, especially for experienced teachers, helps attract and retain talent and ensures students receive the best possible educational outcomes,” Mr Burke said.

Mr Burke noted that an increase in pay alone would not be enough to address the looming teacher shortage in Australia.

“Workload management remains a significant issue for those considering entering the profession,” he said.

“As a union we understand these are the issues our members face and we will continue to campaign on these issues until they are addressed,” Mr Burke said.

Membership matters

The best way teachers and others working in the non-government education sector can ensure they receive the best pay possible is to join our union.

One of the many benefits of IEU membership is ensuring better wages and working conditions through collective bargaining.

Members should encourage their non-member colleagues to join our union and add to the collective voice of 17,000 members across Queensland and the Northern Territory which continues to fight for better pay and conditions for all non-government school staff.

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