More than a third of government sector principals who took part in a national survey of teachers and school leaders said they would like more authority in relation to recruiting teachers, determining their school staffing profile and teacher dismissal.


The results were revealed in the 2010 Staff in Australia’s Schools (SiAS) survey, undertaken by the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) and supported by almost $440,000 in Australian Government funding.


Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, said the survey highlights the importance of reforms government’s investment of more than $65 billion over four years, including $480.5 million for the Empowering Local Schools initiative, which will be implemented in 1000 schools from this year.


“Principals have been calling for more say over the important decisions in their schools for some time, as they know the positive effect it has for their students,” Mr Garrett said.


“We know that it works. In Australia and overseas, we’ve seen that trusting principals and the school community to make decisions produces positive results.”


Mr Garrett said the Government recognised that having high quality, dedicated teachers was one of the most important factors in helping every child achieve their full potential at school.’


“That’s why we’re investing $550 million in the Teacher Quality National Partnership, which provides professional development opportunities for teachers and principals in schools across the country,” he said.


“We’ve also introduced the National Standards for both teachers and principals, as well as pre-service standards for teacher training.”


The survey also found that the number of schools reporting unfilled teacher vacancies fell between the first SiAS survey in 2007 and the second SiAS survey in 2010, with most secondary school vacancies in the areas of Mathematics, English, Science and Languages other than English.


A much greater proportion of principals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused schools reported difficulties in filling vacancies and in retaining staff, as compared to principals overall.


“The Government is providing a new pathway into teaching in high-demand areas such as maths and science, through the Teach Next program, which will see professionals with specialist qualifications placed in hard-to-staff schools, often in regional areas,” Mr Garrett said.


He said the government will use further information in the survey to help target policies and programmes at those areas most needing reform.


“We will work closely with education authorities, teachers and school leaders in supporting an effective education workforce, ensuring all students receive a world class education.”


More than 15,000 primary and secondary teachers and 1,500 school leaders were surveyed between August and December 2010. Copies of the report are available at: