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Study finds educators prioritising development over salary

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
Study Finds Educators Prioritising Development Over Salary

Career development is becoming one of the most sought-after benefits, overtaking salary for many. According to one study, nine out of 10 employees are willing to earn less money to have greater meaning at work.

According to the 2023 Australian School Education Leaders Sentiment Index by Slade Group, leaders in the education sector agree, as many are prioritising career development over salary.

Andrew Barr, Slade Group’s practice lead of education and former school principal, commented on the findings: “Australia’s education industry is in a period of evolution – there are changes to teaching and learning pedagogy, assisted in no small way by the advent of AI.”


“There’s a positive mindset that must be brought to that, as well as to changes to assessment, which is likely to alter how we measure student learning outcomes … What the results identify is both a significant appetite for change within Australia’s education system – and a clear sense of the evolution needed to shape this new direction.”

According to the index, respondents cited professional learning and culture as the top priorities when choosing a job. Slade Group noted that employers should be wary of these feelings if they want to attract and retain good workers.

“Some of the professional learning I’ve experienced has been a real game changer and, interestingly, some of this has been from outside of the education sector,” said Andy Müller, principal at Launceston’s Scotch Oakburn College.

“These have included strategic leadership courses through universities that I have found invaluable.”

Autonomy is another key trend that educators are after, as according to the data, more and more want to control their teachings rather than “simply tick a box”.

Mr Müller continued: “Society is changing, and if our role is about preparing young people for society, then we’ve got to change with it.”

Fellow principal Dr Toni Meath agreed with this sentiment: “There is a great desire by educators to collaborate and build culture, to contribute to the greater good.”

“We’ve never been in a better position to adapt, innovate and grow to meet modern-day demands.”

Mentoring and coaching are another top consideration for educators. According to the index, half of the respondents want to be mentored, and three-quarters said they want to be able to mentor colleagues.

“Everyone needs great mentors. And through mentoring programs, the information we give should not just be our personal narrative; it should be based off research and evidence. That puts us in a much better place as a profession,” said Lauren Sayer, executive director of research and innovation at Melbourne Girls Grammar.

Slade Group discussed how mentoring and coaching can be a great way to attract and retain staff, but also progress the skills of educators within institutions.

Jason Hibberd, deputy principal at St Francis Xavier College in Melbourne, said that building a healthy culture that fosters support has a ripple effect across the whole institution.

“For educators, feeling connected with their roles, being supported by their peers, leaders and the wider school community, and being engaged with students all influence their ability to add value,” he said.



Training is the process of enhancing a worker's knowledge and abilities to do a certain profession. It aims to enhance trainees' work behaviour and performance on the job.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.