Perrottet plan to put unqualified teachers in the classroom

The NSW Government is pressing ahead with a plan to put unqualified teachers in the classroom despite previously rejecting it as expensive, unworkable and at odds with the government’s focus on quality teaching.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the reported decision to work with Teach for Australia revealed a desperate Perrottet government unwilling to address the real causes of growing teacher shortages – uncompetitive pay and unsustainable workloads.

Putting unqualified teachers into the classroom is denying children their right to a fully qualified teacher for every lesson, every day,” he said.

We know TFA participants don’t stay in the classroom either with the Federal Government’s evaluation finding more than half are gone three years after they complete the program, Mr Gavrielatos said.

A confidential ministerial briefing from the Department of Education said about Teach for Australia in 2021:

TfA’s existing model is not structured in a way that would work in NSW Public Schools. The NSW Government and DoE have previously maintained a position that we will not implement the TfA program in NSW. Concerns include teacher quality (with participants only completing 13 weeks of intensive training before entering a classroom), participant/graduate retention, and impact on perceptions of teaching

Another internal briefing for the minister stated: Despite ongoing representations to the Department and previous NSW Ministers for Education, NSW has to date elected not to participate in the scheme due to significant concerns that the model undermines the status of the teaching profession by placing untrained teachers who have not yet completed their qualifications in “disadvantaged” schools including in rural and remote locations.

Mr Gavrielatos said: This is part of a bungled $125m Teacher Supply Strategy that has only seen two teachers recruited in a year.

The budget for the mid career entry program is $18m but the government expects it to only deliver 70 teachers by 2024/25. This is a tiny fraction of the 3,800 the minister claims we need, above normal recruitment, by 2027.

The government needs to stop the experiments and address the real factors causing teacher shortages: unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries.

This is the only approach that will guarantee we can recruit and retain the teachers we need. There is a shortage of doctors, but nobody is saying we should fast track people into the operating theatre.

The number of young teachers leaving has jumped to a 13 year high and and research conducted by a parliamentary committee shows 60 per cent of teachers are looking to leave the profession in the next five years.

Mr Gavrielatos said the Federation had written to the Premier calling for the government to abandon attempts to impose a new award at 2.53% per annum for three years on October 12 in the Industrial Relations Commission.

Delivering a real wage cut to teachers will only make it harder to recruit and retain the teachers we need. Teachers are working 60 hours a week and the government’s plan will only reduce that by one hour a week, he said.

We have called on the Premier to sit down and negotiate an agreement that will help NSW fix the teacher shortages and ensure we can recruit and retain teachers.

So far we have heard nothing from him.