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Career change teachers in hard-to-staff schools: should I stay or leave?

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posted on 2024-03-26, 04:36 authored by Babak DadvandBabak Dadvand, J van Driel, C Speldewinde, M Dawborn-Gundlach
Recruiting career changers into teaching has emerged as a part of a strategy by governments worldwide to address complex teacher shortage problems in hard-to-staff schools. In this paper, we present a case study of two career change teachers and trace their career journey into Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and the teaching profession in two separate hard-to-staff schools. We interviewed these teachers during the first 2 years of their career change journey. During this period, ‘push-and-pull’ factors impacted their intentions to stay in the profession. Challenges included inadequate school-level mentorship support, social-geographic isolation in a regional school setting during the COVID-19 remote learning and the more complex working conditions in hard-to-staff schools. The adverse impacts of these challenges were, to some extent, mitigated by the participants’ commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of children and young people through the teaching profession, a strong work ethic and support provided by their ITE programme in the form of university-based mentors and adjustment to study requirements. The participants responded to these push-and-pull factors in ways that highlighted their reflexive decision-making and determination to stay in teaching despite challenges. We discuss the implications of these findings for workforce planning strategies aimed at recruiting career change teachers in hard-to-staff schools.


The funding for this project was provided by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education as part of the Research Development Award for Team-Based research.


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Australian Educational Researcher






16p. (p. 481-496)





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