You might have heard the news: teachers are leaving the profession in “droves” and “hordes”. That Australia is facing an “education crisis” triggered by a “mass exodus” of teachers of “epidemic proportions”. It certainly got our attention.

A few key figures are repeated endlessly in media coverage -- “one in three” teachers leave in the first five years, or is it actually “an estimated 40% of graduates” who quit soon after starting, or “up to half”, or is it that indeed "half quit the classroom in 5 years"?

If you try to follow those statistics back to their source, you find there isn’t one. Despite even some academic literature claiming this issue is "well-established”, there’s no central database tracking the numbers of teachers entering and leaving the teaching profession each year.