The full extent of their work goes far beyond the basics of teaching curriculum content. The role of teachers in individualised practice, caring for students’ social-emotional wellbeing, and much more has been quite literally brought home to us during remote learning.

Projected teacher shortages are disturbing. How do we properly prepare future generations of citizens and workers if there are no experienced educators to teach them?

Too often the voices of those ‘at the chalkface’ are missing from (or ignored in) discussions on the issues that directly affect them, like teacher retention, working conditions and school reform – despite clear evidence that their insights are valuable.

So we asked them. In mid-2021, teachers around the country responded to our joint survey with The NEiTA Foundation and told us about workloads, professional learning and support, their relationships with students and parents, their school’s ability to meet the demands of remote learning, and more.

Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we publish the NEiTA-ACE Teachers Report Card 2021. Its findings are sobering. Of 571 respondents, 84 per cent have considered leaving the profession in the last year. More than three-quarters feel stressed during a typical week ‘fairly often’ to ‘most of the time’, and one in four is working at least six days a week.

Seventy per cent said they were investing more time in providing emotional support to students yet 60 per cent still feel disregarded by parents. More than two-thirds of teachers working with students with special needs report not having the requisite resources or support.

Furthermore, teachers’ dissatisfaction has grown since the survey was last conducted in 2017, when 91 per cent reported feeling satisfied or very satisfied with their profession – down sharply to just 63 per cent in 2021.

These findings demand attention. They are a clarion call for action and change from a profession in distress.

The pandemic has taken a toll but many issues, such as increased testing and administrative burdens and deteriorating public perceptions of the profession, predate it.

Fixing the problem of an increasingly disenfranchised teaching workforce is complex, and not limited to any single measure like increased resourcing – though that would undoubtedly help.

As Australia’s longest serving inclusive national association for educators of every level, system and sector, our mission is to ensure the voices of our members – and of all teachers – are heard.

We will deliver the NEiTA–ACE Teachers Report Card to policymakers, curriculum authorities, system managers and other organisations with a stake in ensuring our teachers are empowered to do their best work. And we will ask them to act upon what they find in it.

After all, future generations depend on it.