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Byron Shire
April 19, 2024

Education shaping up to be a key battleground in NSW election

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Tamara Smith MP speaking to teachers and educators at the NSW Teachers Federation Council meeting. Photo supplied

There is a teacher shortage and both the NSW Greens and Labor are focussing their efforts on highlighting the situation the NSW public education system is in as they campaign for the next NSW election. 

Last Friday NSW Greens Education spokesperson and Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith MP, announced to the NSW Teachers Federation Council meeting in Sydney the Green’s vision to support teachers and educators in NSW, ahead of the 2023 election, and the launch of their Trust in Teachers campaign.   

Speaking to teachers and educators from across the state about the chronic teacher shortage Tamara Smith MP questioned how the Liberal/ Coalition government, under an array of Premiers, have so clearly failed the education workforce in NSW.

Data from the NSW government shows that the number of teacher vacancies has gone up by 258 per cent, from 1,148 in May 2021 to 2,963 on 31 October 2022.

The state’s teacher shortage surged by 20 per cent over a three week period – up from 2,458 vacancies on October 10.

Ten years ago the NSW Government was warned by a 2012 Auditor General’s report about the prospect of a looming and systemic teacher shortage. The report foreshadowed a teacher shortage caused by an ageing teaching workforce, noting ‘almost 55 per cent of the Department’s school teachers are 45 years of age or older’ with 26,665 teachers within this cohort.

The NSW Government’s own data now shows that 10 years later, this same cohort – now over the age of 55 – totals to 11,274 permanent teachers in NSW schools.

As a result NSW has lost 15,391 permanent teachers within this age group in the last ten years.

Tamara Smith MP speaking to teachers and educators at the NSW Teachers Federation Council meeting. Photo supplied

Greens – 15 % pay rise

Ms Smith said, ‘Thanks won’t fix teacher shortages – addressing pay and conditions will’.

‘Teachers have told us through direct action that “Thanks is not enough” to attract and retain the professional teaching force we need across public education in NSW,’ she said. 

‘This government has failed to produce a workforce strategy in their twelve, long years in government and have no idea how many teachers are even needed over the next decade. The Gallop Inquiry led by teachers told us that we need a minimum extra 11,000 teachers in NSW over the next ten years due to significant increase in student enrolments and teacher shortage will worsen.

‘The Department of Education’s own research tells us that NSW public school teachers are overworked and underpaid,’ Ms Smith said.

‘Whoever forms government in March 2023 has to put teachers and students at the heart of every decision because we trust in public education and our teachers.’

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns at the Murwillumbah school merger public meeting earlier this year. Photo Aslan Shand

Labor – more permanent teachers

NSW Labor has pledged to improve the recruitment and retention of new teachers by creating 10,000 permanent teaching roles and reducing administrative workloads by five hours per week.

‘“This surge in the Liberals’ and Nationals’ teacher shortage is deeply concerning,’ said NSW Labor Leader, Chris Minns.

‘Every day, parents, students and teachers experience the real-world impact of this shortage, through merged or cancelled classes, and students being left with minimal supervision.

‘The neglect of our state’s teaching workforce by the Liberals and Nationals is particularly egregious when you consider that they were warned a decade ago, and still sat on their hands.’

Prue Car, NSW Shadow Minister for Education, said, ‘The Premier and the Minister for Education continue to remain in denial about the teacher shortage in this state.

‘But parents, students and teachers know all too well that the Liberals’ and Nationals’ teacher shortage is real and it is getting worse under this 12 year old government.

‘The people of New South Wales deserve a government that will not only acknowledge there is a problem, but offer the practical solutions to address it.’

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  1. For as long as teachers are blamed for everything that’s wrong in society, abused, denigrated and expected to work at least 60 to 80 hours a week on mostly irrelevant tasks that aren’t teaching there will be shortages.
    There aren’t enough waking hours in a week to complete the demands and have any sort of life balance for most teachers.
    Pay is unlikely to retain new teachers once they experience the demands and expectations. It’s not retaining other teachers, many of whom are leaving via medical imperative as they develop stress related illnesses that leave them on the scrap heap.
    Didactic, demanding curriculum and leadership do not help.


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