Teachers’ salary situation gone from bad to worse in NSW, new research reveals

New research released today recommends a significant increase in the salaries of teachers, warning real earnings are now the same as a decade ago and teachers remain one of the lowest paid professions.

The report, by the University of Sydney Business School researchers, said the situation for NSW teachers is “particularly acute” and increasing salaries and cutting workloads is essential to address teacher shortages and create a more sustainable and attractive teaching profession.

On top of a continuing decline in teachers’ salaries compared to the average of all professions, the report found real earnings fell by about 5.7% between 2020 and 2022 due to salary increases that were far below inflation increases.

“Real earnings today are essentially as they were 10 years ago,” the report states.

“NSW teachers’ pay has gone from bad to worse, with the situation set to deteriorate further.”

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said: “This research shows the Coalition’s  one-size-fits-all wages cap has imperilled the future of the teaching profession in NSW.

“Teachers’ salaries are uncompetitive in a tight labour market and don’t reflect the skills and expertise of teachers or the increase in the volume and complexity of their work.

“If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need.

“Teacher shortages are worsening with 3,300 vacant permanent positions in November and there has been a 30 per cent decline in the number of people studying to become a teacher.”

The release of the report comes as a NSW parliamentary inquiry into teacher shortages begins hearings today. Mr Gavrielatos will give evidence at 10.45am this morning at the hearing being held at the Camden Civic Centre.

The University of Sydney researchers found in recent years there had been a continuation of the 30 year decline in teachers’ salaries compared to the average of all professionals with male teachers earning only 83.3% of the average professional salary in 2021 and females 93.5%. The gap had also widened with other occupations that did not require a degree such as financial brokers and real estate agents.

“The situation for NSW teachers is particularly acute. Not only do they now face the challenge of falling real earnings, this comes on top of a historic decline in relativities that has been underway for decades,” the report states.

It said any “enduring solution will need to be phased in”. Addressing the gap between teaching and other professions required a salary increase of 10-15 per cent. To address the gap between inflation and salary increases delivered required a further 5.5 per cent increase and anticipating future high inflation meant up to 8.5 per cent more.

“In short, an increase of between 15.5-25.5% can be readily justified”, the report states.

 The report warned changes in technology and teaching practices, combined with teacher shortages,  a rise in insecure work and the under-resourcing of public schools had put the teaching profession under unprecedented pressure.

“As teaching work has become increasingly demanding more teachers than ever are leaving the profession. Just as significantly fewer are joining the profession,” it states.