A new plan by the NSW government to save the education system from looming teacher shortage proves it isn't taking the issue seriously, the teachers' union says.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell announced the strategy hinged on promoting 'the joy of teaching' and poaching teachers from overseas.
Fewer people are choosing teaching as a career, a large chunk of the workforce will soon retire and enrolment numbers are skyrocketing.
The Education Department last year reported the state would run out of teachers in five years if supply gaps are not addressed.
The $125 million NSW Teacher Supply Strategy – unveiled on Friday – will also offer more mid-career path ways for those in the profession, will upskill teachers for in demand subjects like maths, and will offer a variety of scholarships totalling $44 million.
A new incentive scheme will aim to attract teachers to regional and rural schools and regional students suitable for the profession will be scouted while they are still in high school.
Ms Mitchell said the strategy was sorely needed to update the way the state approaches attracting, developing and retaining teachers.
“A one size fits all approach to boosting the teaching profession ignores the complexity of the modern workforce and the varied requirements of people aspiring to become teachers and of those already in our classrooms,” Ms Mitchell said.
According to modelling done by the department, the strategy will deliver 3700 teachers in the next 10 years – 1600 of them in the first five years.
But past attempts to bolster teaching numbers with similar strategies have had limited success.
Incentives to teach in the regions have existed for years, but the number of teachers in those areas is still dropping, and recruiting teachers from overseas may prove difficult given many are facing teacher shortages in their own countries.
Programs in Australia fast-tracking people from other professions into teaching have also had little take up.
The NSW Teachers Federation says the plan is shocking and recycles initiatives that don't work.
“This brochure in no way reflects the seriousness of the situation we face in NSW or proposes anything that will give teachers and parents the slightest confidence that this government is up to the challenge of securing the future for children in NSW schools,” President Angelo Gavrielatos said.
“Not only is the government trying to cover up the scale of the teacher shortages, it has no evidence-based plan to tackle them or deliver the additional 11,000 teachers NSW will require, at a minimum, over the next decade.
“The warnings about how serious this situation is, could not be clearer.”
He says the government has refused to do the two obvious things that would attract more people into the profession – pay teachers more and help reduce their unsustainable workloads.
The Education Department itself has been warning pay is an issue, with a report in 2020 saying teacher pay has been falling relative to other professions since the late 1980s.
“This makes it a less attractive profession for high achieving students,” it said.
The department has offered teachers a 2.5 per cent rise per year – the maximum allowed under the public sector wage cap imposed by the government – but the union is chasing 5 to 7.5 per cent a year.Internet Explorer Channel Network