The education sector provides the framework to educate and prepare Australia’s future generations. The magnitude of this impact warrants investigating and understanding the key trends affecting the education sector.
1. Rising parent engagement
In this changing educational context, parent engagement is rising.
In the last 2 years two in five parents (41%) have become more engaged with their child’s school. This increased engagement is reflective of a shift in priorities, with almost half (46%) making it more of a priority to engage with their child’s schooling.
In addition, teachers are feeling the pressure of increased parent engagement and their desire for information. Three in five parents (60%) expect weekly communication from their child’s school, with one in every fourteen parents (7%) expecting daily communication (emails, calls, blogs, texts).
2. The wellbeing focus
In the last 5 years, almost half of parents (48%) have increased their expectations of their child’s school to support wellbeing. More than one in four (27%) have significantly or somewhat increased their expectations.
Gen Y parents are driving this expectation inflation with three in ten (31%) significantly or somewhat increasing their expectations of schools compared to one in four Gen X parents (23%).
As student wellbeing challenges rise in prominence it is important for schools to understand parents’ expectations and the school’s role in the wellbeing journey. Almost all parents surveyed (97%) believe schools should have a holistic focus and play some role in the management of wellbeing, the question is to what extent.
More than two in five parents (46%) believe schools should provide individualised support for wellbeing but refer on to other experts.
Gen Y teachers agree, seeing themselves as the first line of defence and will then refer on to other experts. The challenge for schools, however, is that almost a quarter of parents (24%) believe schools should provide extensive individualised support for all wellbeing issues.
Gen Y parents seem to be driving this viewpoint, being more likely than Gen X parents to believe schools should provide extensive individualised support for all wellbeing issues (28% cf. 21%).
3. Preparing students for an unknown future
The expected rise of automation has led to a focus on developing 21st century skills for lifelong learning in Australian students. Within this context, parents believe students are most equipped with digital skills and creativity. There is work to do however, in the area of critical thinking.
As the world of work changes, it is the character qualities of curiosity, adaptability and initiative which help to future proof the students of today. Positively, parents believe students are equipped with curiosity and adaptability but believe there is room to improve in leadership skills.
4. Complexity in education
Looking to the future, principals see change on the horizon as the educational sector trends towards complexity. Principals believe global testing has a limited life and are watching the trend of alternate pathways to university and the workforce. Complexity in governance and the growing compliance requirements is a challenge for principals: from high level policy and accountability to teacher accreditation, principals and Gen Y teachers alike are experiencing the challenge of documentation.
Gen Y teacher: “There is more demand for caring for the students and mental illness. Increase in red tape to uphold accreditation, take time away from the important stuff – managing mental health, caring for their wellbeing when mental health is on the rise. Balancing the two is a challenge definitely.”
5. Attracting and retaining the emerging generation of teachers
“The dropout rate of young teachers worries me because it shows that there’s a growing incompatibility between the culture of expectation and what they would like to do as educators.” – Stephen Harris
Recently there has been concern in the dropout rate of teachers, and how to continue to attract teachers in an increasingly flexible world of work. While teachers enter the profession for multiple reasons, the key driver behind their decision is to make a difference in the lives of their students. The students and their desire to make a difference is the driving force that retains them when the going gets tough. The holidays and ability for family time, however, continue to be a key perk of the job.
As well, the rising focus on student’s mental health, wellbeing and the magnitude of administration and documentation over and above the time spent teaching in the classroom are key areas of concern for Gen Y teachers. They are feeling the pressure to manage multiple student wellbeing issues at the detriment of classroom learning and their own health. While many teachers have experienced elements of burnout this is not the case for all teachers.
Also key to a teacher’s experience is the leadership and culture of the school. A culture where collaboration, teamwork and care are evident is the foundation for a positive teaching experience.
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