Classes are being combined and students given only minimal supervision on hundreds of occasions in city and country schools in NSW due to growing teacher shortages, new figures provided to Parliament show.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the NSW Government figures were alarming and teachers were reporting class sizes of up to 45 students as a result.
“This is an example of the very real impact teacher shortages are having on students and teachers in schools from the inner west of Sydney to the Far West of NSW,” Mr Gavrielatos said.
“As we prepare for schools to go back next term, it is a stark reminder of why teacher shortages must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
The schools include:
- Murrumbidgee Regional High School in Griffith where a lack of teachers has left students under minimal supervision over 475 times already this year. Classes have been merged at that school over 143 times. 12 permanent teaching positions at the school are vacant.
- Canobolas Rural Technology High School in Orange where Year 11 and 12 students have been left with minimal supervision over 300 times. Year 7 to 10 classes have been merged over 200 times. Eleven permanent positions at the school are vacant.
- Concord High School in Sydney’s inner west where classes were merged or under minimal supervision 169 times before the start of remote learning. Six permanent positions at that school are vacant.
- Mary Brooksbank, a special school near Campbelltown, where a lack of casual teachers has meant students with severe disabilities have been forced into combined classes on 78 occasions.
- Narrabri High School in the west of the state where classes have been merged on 195 occasions due to a lack of teachers. There has been minimal supervision of students on 73 occasions.
Mr Gavrielatos said the Gallop Inquiry into the work of teachers warned in February that uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads were contributing to the growing shortages of teachers.
“If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need,” he said.
“We know teachers face an enormous challenge meeting the needs of students after a long period of remote learning. We cannot afford to have shortages of teachers now and in the years ahead as we try and get all students back on track with their learning.
The current industrial award covering the salaries and conditions of teachers is due to expire at the end of the year. Mr Gavrielatos said teacher shortages would be “front and centre” when negotiations begin next month.
“For too long the government has had its head in the sand when it comes to the uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads of teachers and the way they are reducing the attractiveness of teaching.”
“If you are not concerned about teacher shortages, you are not concerned about children missing out.
“Teachers need a competitive salary and they need a reduction in the crippling workloads that they face every week. They need more than thanks from the NSW Government.”
In its recent submission to a national inquiry into initial teacher education, the NSW Government warned of growing shortages of teachers with the worst impact in rural and regional areas and in secondary schools.