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December 4, 2023

NSW school education system is at a tipping point

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The NSW Upper House’s Education Committee yesterday released the report of its inquiry into teacher shortages in New South Wales, titled Great teachers, great schools: Lifting the status of teaching, teacher quality and teacher numbers in New South Wales.

The Chair of the Committee, the Hon Mark Latham MLC, said the NSW school education system is at a tipping point. ‘For 20 years its academic results have consistently fallen away, which can only mean two things. First, NSW Government policy has failed, and second, classroom teaching is not up to scratch’.

‘This report identifies the critical need to lift the status of teaching as a way of attracting more high-quality teachers to the profession, and ultimately raise academic standards in NSW schools. We must treat teaching as a modern, dynamic, rewarding profession. Not a job where decent, competitive pay increases are traded away for ever-softer working conditions.

The status quo cannot be allowed to stand

Mr Latham said that teachers and their union say they want to be treated and regarded as a high-achieving profession. Yet in many cases, industrial and work arrangements have been negotiated that move in the opposite direction to today’s professional standards for performance. ‘The status quo cannot be allowed to stand. Major policy and workplace changes are needed and this report shows how this can be achieved.

‘The committee has recommended that in order to do this, the NSW Government renegotiate the teachers’ industrial agreement, as well as giving special recognition to teachers with strong value-added performance. Further, the committee has recommended that the Government ensure a rigorous and consistent program of independent classroom observation, which will bring all NSW teachers up to high-quality, evidence based classroom practices’.

The committee’s report makes 21 recommendations across a range of areas, including Initial Teacher Education, data collection practices of the Department of Education and the various programs and policies currently being implemented by the NSW Government to address the teacher shortage.

‘If we don’t uplift the status of teaching in New South Wales, we can’t uplift our school results and the lifetime opportunities of our young people. That would be a tragedy for New South Wales at every level.’

Information about the inquiry is available on the committee’s website.

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