Teachers v students: How every Qld school compares
REGIONAL Queensland primary schools are more likely to have extra students per teacher than their city counterparts, with experts saying lower ratios would decrease teacher burnout and help stem the numbers exiting the profession.
An analysis by The Courier-Mail using enrolment and teacher data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has revealed the number of students per full-time-equivalent teacher at every Queensland school for 2018.
Feluga State School located in the Tully Valley had 1.4 full-time equivalent teachers employed in 2018, with 43 students recorded as enrolled. It equated to a ratio of more than 30 kids per teacher, among the highest rate in the country.
The analysis - excluding special schools and schools with less than 20 enrolments - revealed 16 Queensland schools had a student-teacher ratio which exceeded 20 kids per teacher.
Of the 50 schools which recorded the highest student-teacher ratios, only six were located in Brisbane, with half located outside southeast Queensland.
Among them were Wallangarra State School (with a student-teacher ratio of 22.35), Benaraby State School south of Gladstone (21.27), and Atherton's Jubilee Christian College (21.13) in the state's north.
But on the flip side, regional and rural schools also dominated a list of schools with the lowest student-teacher ratios.
Of the approximately 150 Queensland schools who had at least one teacher per ten students, 19 were located in Brisbane, and just two were on the Gold Coast.
The overall average student-teacher ratio in Queensland sat at 13.5 for 2018, the same as the Australian average.
The ratio sat at 14.7 for Queensland primary schools and 12.1 for secondary schools, with both decreasing over the past decade.
University of Southern Queensland School of Education lecturer Tania Leach said more kids in a classroom resulted in a higher level of workload for teachers, which could lead to "teacher burnout" and "well-being issues".
She said vast numbers of teachers were managing "complex classrooms", which may include students with English as a second language, students with social or behavioural issues, or learning difficulties.
"We have a large number of students in our schools with social or emotional needs, much more than we would have seen in the '90s, and those sort of things are not taken into consideration with the current staffing model," she said.
"I feel quite strongly we need to review some of our models for how resources are allocated into schools, however we need to look at it from a holistic perspective.
"If we are serious about improving student learning outcomes then we need to put in resources at the ground level."
Ms Leach, who has 20 years of classroom teaching experience from Prep to Year 12, also said a lack of teachers was putting pressure on recruiting, and keeping quality teachers in the workforce long-term was a challenge.
"We are in a teacher shortage ... even if you wanted smaller classes, we don't have the workforce," she said.
"Ask any teacher how we can help them, and they would say 'give me less kids'.
"However that doesn't, by itself, guarantee student learning will improve - you need quality teaching."
In a statement the Department of Education did not address student-teacher ratios, but said last year 93 per cent of state primary classes and 97 per cent of state secondary classes met class size targets.
In 2018, Queensland state schools had the lowest student-teacher ratio at 14.2 for primary schools, compared with 15.3 for independent schools and 16.4 for Catholic schools.
At the secondary level independent Queensland schools had an average student-teacher ratio of 11.7, while Catholic and state schools sat at 12.2 students for every full-time equivalent teacher.
Independent Schools Queensland executive director David Robertson said between 2017 and 2018 staffing levels at Queensland independent schools had increased at a higher rate than student enrolments.
"Research has shown that the teacher at the front of the classroom and their expert practice, have a far greater impact on student learning than the size of class a child is sitting in," he said.
"What this data doesn't reflect is the high proportions of additional specialist support staff such as counsellors, sports coordinators, career advisers as well as teacher aides employed by independent schools."