Schools bordering drought-affected areas can apply for staffing maintenance

Communities affected by drought will have staffing levels at their schools maintained, in a significant success for Federation members.

Federation first raised the issue of staffing at drought-affected schools with the Minister and Department of Education after a decision of August Council.

The Department has now identified 221 schools in the worst-hit areas that will automatically have their staffing entitlement maintained, with a further 35 bordering those schools eligible to apply.

However, Federation Senior Vice President Henry Rajendra said the Department’s assessment did not rule out other schools applying if they believe they are, or will be, affected by the extended dry period.

“A principal of a school that is not listed but is negatively affected by the drought, should immediately contact their Director, Educational Leadership and complete the one-page template application form seeking the staffing maintenance,” he said.

“The Department has emailed, or is in the process of doing so, principals, Directors and Executive Directors the details of the staffing maintenance for drought-affected public schools.

“The construct and level of support detailed in this strategy is unprecedented for NSW public schools. Schools needing further support should contact their Organiser.”

Federation gained the staffing moratorium on the back of the decision by August Council that stated: “Public schools and TAFE colleges within rural and remote communities across NSW are suffering.

“The likelihood of declining student enrolments in such areas will result in reduction in staffing entitlements and trigger nominated transfers.

“At a time of high levels of student distress due to drought, now is not the time to remove teachers from the public schools.”

For schools applying and not among the 256 listed, the Department’s FAQs on the initiative state that the Director, Educational Leadership will make a recommendation considering the extent of drought impact, likely continued impact of the drought on schools as well as the location and context of the school and community.

“Drought Affected Schools will have their staffing entitlement maintained to the higher of their 2018 entitlement or their 2019 entitlement in order to minimise the impact of the drought on schools, students and their communities,” the Department states.

“Eligible schools and principals will be directly notified by the Department. In addition to this schools will be advised that their staffing will be maintained in their school budget.

“The Department is committed to assisting these schools and communities and will continue to work closely with the NSW Teachers Federation to ensure affected schools receive the necessary staffing assistance.”