Strong support for an investment in public school teachers in NSW

A clear majority of people in NSW support higher wages and more preparation time for public school teachers, new polling shows.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the YouGov poll also revealed that parents’ views on the value of teachers’ work had become more positive during the pandemic amid concerns children were not keeping up while learning at home.

Mr Gavrielatos said the NSW Government needed to act urgently on the uncompetitive wages and unsustainable workloads that were leading to widespread teacher shortages.

“The poll shows a recognition that teaching has become a far more difficult and demanding job and with schools finally reopening we need to be investing in our teachers to ensure no child misses out on the education they need,” he said.

“We cannot fix the shortages problem until we fix the wages and workload problem.”

The YouGov poll was conducted between September 2 and 13 with a representative sample of 1,542 adults in NSW. The results show:

  • 57% of people support a pay rise of at least 5% a year for teachers, compared to 28% who back the government’s position of capping increases at 2.5%.
  • 66% of people supported an increase to four hours in the time teachers have outside the classroom each week for lesson planning and collaboration. Only 18% said the current entitlement of 2 hours was sufficient. 64% of Coalition voters backed the increase to four hours.
  • 57% of public school parents said they had a more positive view of the value of teachers’ work due to the pandemic and remote schooling. 30% said their view hadn’t changed and 13% said their view was more negative. (Among all adults, 41% had a more positive view, 12% more negative and 47% said their view hadn’t changed.)
  • 67% of parents with a child or children at school said they were concerned about them falling behind in their learning due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the long periods of remote learning.
  • Overall, 47% of people think teaching is a less attractive career option today compared to a decade ago. 10% say it is more attractive. More than half think the workload has increased along with the difficulty of the job and the complexity of student needs.
  • 21% of people said they had considered becoming a teacher at some point. Almost one in five said the pay compared to other professions and the workload were reasons they were not in the profession. (Among those aged 25-34, 27% nominated pay and 26% workload as reasons they were not in the profession).

The industrial award that determines the salaries and conditions of teachers expires in December. In line with the recommendations of the independent Gallop inquiry, teachers and principals are seeking a salary increase of between 5 to 7.5 per cent a year and an increase in preparation time of 2 hours a week.

Mr Gavrielatos said the fact that only 1 in 10 people believed the profession was a more attractive career option than a decade ago underlined the need for action on workload and wages.

“We have to make the profession more attractive through competitive salaries and realistic workloads if we are to fix the shortages and recruit a minimum of 11,000 more teachers required just to meet enrolment growth over the next decade,” he said.

“Teachers are skilled professionals doing increasingly complex and challenging work. If we aren’t properly supporting them, we aren’t properly supporting students.”

“Our expectations about what teachers can do in schools have never been higher but their pay compared to other professions has never been lower.”