Retaining early childhood teachers

What factors contribute to high job satisfaction in early childhood settings in Australia?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Australian early childhood sector is grappling with high teacher turnover rates in a climate where the demand for teachers is higher than ever due to regulatory increases in qualifications and an influx of centre based services. The necessity to understand what inspires those teachers who remain in the sector and the factors enhancing their job satisfaction is pertinent in the current context. This article reports on a study of teacher job satisfaction while examining the potential of Deci and Ryan’s (1985) Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a mechanism for understanding this phenomenon. The study consisted of two phases. Phase one included 229 teachers completing an online survey measuring job satisfaction, intention to turnover, extrinsic factors as well as a major component of SDT (the three Basic Psychological Needs (BPNS) of autonomy, relatedness, and competence) with the W-BNS. In phase two, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten teachers who reported high levels of job satisfaction in their current workplaces from phase one. The ‘voices’ of these teachers support the findings from phase one by echoing the importance of meeting the three basic psychological needs in the workplace. This paper discusses the potential of SDT as a framework for understanding early childhood teacher job satisfaction and implications for policy and practice are also explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalNew Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • job satisfaction
  • self-determination theory
  • early childhood teacher
  • staff turnover
  • long day care
  • retention

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