Urgent action required to address teacher shortages

New figures showing 2,172 permanent teaching positions were vacant in NSW public schools in February reinforce the urgent need for action on the causes of teacher shortages – unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries.

The Department of Education figures reveal how widespread the shortages are with every area of NSW affected. In country areas, as many as 1 in 8 positions were vacant in February, with the biggest problems in the state’s west, south west and the Northern Tablelands.

In Sydney, the highest number of vacancies were in the Liverpool area. The figures also show 92 counsellor positions were vacant in NSW, further exacerbating the chronic shortage of counsellors across the state.

NSWTF president Angelo Gavrielatos said the Minns Government has been advised the union expects negotiations to begin this week, week one of term two.

“We face a classroom crisis in NSW,” he said.

“Thousands of teaching positions are vacant, the number of teachers resigning has doubled in two years and the number of people studying to become a teacher has dropped by 30 per cent. Teacher shortages mean kids miss out and teachers burn out.

“The Coalition created this crisis by allowing workloads to rise to the point where two thirds of teachers say they are burnt out. Thanks to their wage cap, teachers are earning the same salary as they did a decade ago after inflation is factored in.

“We can’t fix the shortages problem without fixing the wages and workload problem. We commend Labor for their commitment to lift wages and reduce the administration workloads of teachers and we want to sit down and begin intensive negotiations this week.

“Nobody should underestimate the size of the investment required to ensure we can keep our teachers in the classroom and recruit the ones we need. But if we truly want every single child in NSW to get a great education it is an investment that must be made.

“There are no shortcuts here as the Coalition proved by spending $4 million in 18 months to recruit just 13 teachers from interstate and overseas.”