The NSW Teachers Federation has claimed that the unexpected amalgamation of four primary and high schools in Murwillumbah will lead to a permanent loss of teaching staff in a visit to Murwillumbah this week.
‘When you adhere to the dept staffing policies, which this new development would have to follow, there will be a cut to the number of teachers across secondary and primary education,’ Henry Rajendra deputy president of the NSW Teachers Federation told Echonetdaily.
According to the Federation the amalgamation will lead to the loss of one teacher in the primary area that will mean the primary section of the school will have an increase in class size as well as the loss of teacher library time.
‘In relation to the High School the calculations appear to be indicating worse outcomes with the loss of over 16 teachers,’ said Mr Rajendra.
Responding to the accusations a spokesperson for NSW Education said that, ‘No permanent positions will be lost. There is no modelling or planning for the campus that would result in anything close to what is being suggested by the Federation. Unfortunately, for the community of Murwillumbah a lot of misinformation is circulating, we encourage everyone to engage with the information sessions.’
Yet Mr Rajendra told Echonetdaily that ‘How that works –is that the department follows the staffing policies formula to a T. There will come a time when they will have to offload those teachers, then they will just move them to another school in another town.’
According to the NSW Education departments formula, Mr Rajendra said that on the high school side it looks like a 20 per cent cut of teacher’s positions – that includes classroom teachers, head teachers, careers advisor, teacher librarian, and principal.
‘In the primary school area they will lose a teacher and at least one, if not two, assistant principals. Teacher librarian time will also be reduced when they amalgamate as they will only have one full-time position.’
Halt and consult
During his time in Murwillumbah Mr Rajendra was able to meet with Tweed Shire Council Mayor Chris Cherry and Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes to discuss their concerns.
‘It was really good to hear about the details of the teaching numbers and the concerns that our two current high schools have the small schools subsidy which funds extra teachers which will be lost,’ Mayor Cherry told Echonetdaily.
‘Council’s concerns hinge on traffic, parking and the concern that new school models do not include parking for teachers. We also want to advocate strongly for our residents to the Education department that they halt the amalgamation and consult with the community.’
Local Labor MP for Lismore Janelle Saffin has also been calling for a jobs guarantee via a series of Questions on Notice to Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell. Ms Saffin has also questioned the government’s failure to consult with school communities and the NSW Teachers Federation.
‘The clear threat to local jobs has been there from the outset and is spelt out in the Briefing for the Minister Murwillumbah Education Campus Sensitive: NSW Government: MR20/2018, MT20/1174,’ Ms Saffin said.
‘Under key information, it states “The amalgamation of four schools to form the MEC [Murwillumbah Education Campus] in 2024 will change the staffing allocation and potentially displace some teaching and support staff”.
‘I shared this briefing with the NSW Teachers Federation, the affected school communities’ Parents & Citizens Associations, media and other interested parties to help them assess the potential impacts of these cruel school closures.
‘Sixteen full-time jobs is more than we can bear or should bear. This is cruel.
‘We need an ironclad guarantee that permanent full-time, part-time, temporary and casual jobs will be retained from all areas across the schools.’