Amendments to the 2021-2023 School Staffing Agreement

Recent changes announced to the Staffing Agreement, including access to service transfers, mark the culmination of longstanding Federation policy to help address the teacher shortage and upholds the government’s responsibility of ensuring all students in every classroom across the state are afforded appropriately qualified teachers. 

The changes strengthen mechanisms available under the Staffing Agreement that facilitate the staffing of the NSW public school system with appropriately qualified teachers and make the staffing process fairer for members. 

Federation Deputy President Henry Rajendra said the changes, and related clarifications and improvements to the Department’s staffing processes, address longstanding Federation policy objectives.  

“They will contribute to the complex process of addressing the chronic teacher shortages across the state, particularly for our hardest to staff schools,” Mr Rajendra said. 

“A robust and effective, centralised transfer system is an important distribution mechanism aimed at ensuring all students throughout the state are provided the appropriately qualified teachers they deserve.” 

The enhancements include: 

  • access to service transfers being considered after priority transfers whenever a permanent classroom teacher vacancy arises, matched on approved teaching codes only, and before the alternating processes of central appointment and local choice  
  • prioritisation of transfers being enhanced with the inclusion of Aboriginal teachers, teachers from special education settings and compassionate transfers 
  • formal recognition of the relative prioritisation of transfers of executive teachers and principals above merit selection processes for: 
  • nominated transfers 
  • priority transfers from a special education setting 
  • section 51A transfers (including compassionate and non-compassionate) 
  • Part 4A appointments under the Teaching Service Act 1980. 

Principal at Sawtell Public School Michael Hepi said he was confident many principal colleagues would view the amendments as a positive step towards rebuilding a fundamental element of a strong public education, and was a huge win for all students, teachers, communities across NSW and, most importantly, our system. 

He said the decision gave today’s student teachers the opportunity to enrich their careers. “They’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful, rich teaching experience in our more difficult to staff schools, knowing if they ever want to, they will have priority of a service transfer, previously deemed near impossible,” he said. 

“If they choose to transfer, the skills they acquired will be an asset for their next school. I’m confident these amendments will increase the attractiveness of our more difficult to staff schools, fundamental to strengthening our system.” 

The significant improvements to the Agreement made with the Department of Education on the Staffing of NSW Public Schools 2021-2023 (the Staffing Agreement) have been achieved since the new State Government was elected in March, along with measures including the employment of more than 11,000 temporary teachers as permanent by the beginning of 2024. 

These initiatives have been mutually agreed to and have therefore been able to be incorporated into the current Staffing Agreement, taking effect for all permanent classroom teacher vacancies declared from the beginning of term 3, 2023. The variation to the Staffing Agreement will also include an extension of its operation until the end of the autumn vacation. This will allow the agreement to return to alignment with the traditional school staffing operation.