Teachers at breaking point: why working in South Australian schools is getting tougher

Report to the Australian Education Union South Australian Branch
Quality of work life Teachers Learning and teaching Occupational health and safety South Australia

This study, commissioned by the Australian Education Union (South Australian Branch), examines the shifting nature of teachers’ work, pointing to growing complexity and increasing professional demands. This research is the first of its kind in South Australia and provides new insights into the impact of increased demands upon teachers’ wellbeing and ability to focus on their key responsibilities for teaching and learning.

Data were collected in August and September 2022 using an online survey and group interviews, through a research design that builds on the existing research literature and on recent investigations in other jurisdictions.

The findings indicated that teachers are at breaking point. In summary:

  • Teachers work above and beyond the hours for which they are paid. South Australian teachers work on average over fifty hours a week, including just over twenty hours of face-to-face teaching and thirty hours of other tasks.
  • There have been major changes to the nature of teachers’ work over the past five years, driven by increased focus on student test data and increased complexity of student needs.
  • Levels of professional satisfaction have almost halved since similar data were collected in 2018.
  • Relative to 2018 data, the proportion of education workers reporting being highly stressed has almost doubled.


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