Beginning teacher attrition in low SES western Sydney secondary schools: initial questionnaire, interview and observation results

Year: 2015

Author: French, Stephanie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation will present the initial findings of a multi-method case study which investigated the support available to beginning teachers across western Sydney low socio economic status (SES) secondary schools.

The study was developed initially as a result of high early career teacher attrition rates. There is a significant body of existing research on early career teacher attrition. However, the majority of the literature examines beginning teachers as a whole and does not differentiate between or compare sectors, locations and school levels. As these factors have the potential to alter the experiences of beginning teachers significantly, this research focused on the experiences of beginning secondary teachers in low SES Catholic and government secondary schools in one area of Sydney with particularly high rates of teacher attrition and teacher shortage, western Sydney. Comparisons were made between early career teachers in the two school sectors and the results examined along side existing research to uncover similarities and differences between the select sample and early career teachers as a whole body.

The main aim of this study was to examine how the support available to early career teachers across the Catholic and government sectors assists them in overcoming the challenges they are confronted with as novices. This was investigated from the perspectives of early career teachers, their mentors and principals/executive staff. The relationship between the three perspectives was analysed. A questionnaire, in-depth conversational interviews and observations of early career teachers’ mentoring sessions were chosen as the most suitable research methods for the project. It was envisaged this multi-method approach would provide adequate data to answer all research questions thoroughly and subsequently make a new and worthwhile contribution to the body of knowledge that currently exists on the topic. This was achieved by focusing on an obvious gap in the literature, an analysis of different approaches to support for beginning secondary teachers between the two school sectors in one geographically defined region.