Wednesday, July 24, 2024

NSW education survey shows alarming state of teacher shortage

A new survey by the NSW Department of Education has found that students in almost 10,000 lessons every day are being left without adequate instruction in disruptive class arrangements due to a 42% shortfall in casual teacher numbers.

In the state’s primary schools, 40% of the lessons unable to be covered by a casual teacher resulted in merged or collapsed classes. In high schools, students in nearly 30% of uncovered classes were left to their own devices with minimal supervision, the survey found.

The numbers were significantly worse in parts of Sydney’s west and south-west, rural and remote areas and at schools for specific purposes – but the issue was widespread with almost 90% of schools across the state reporting a shortfall in casual teachers on a given day.

The survey is the first of its kind to gather data on the true extent and impact of the teacher shortage faced by NSW public schools, said NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, Prue Car (pictured visiting a school recently).

“We already knew from listening to teachers and parents that NSW has been facing a teacher shortage crisis leaving huge numbers of students without quality teaching every single day – but the former government told teachers it was a ‘lie’ they had made up,” said the Minister.

“This survey lays bare the extent of the crisis that the former Liberal National government denied and ignored while they claimed teachers weren’t working hard enough to get a pay rise.

“Even to this day the former government is in denial about their legacy. The Minns Labor government was elected on a mandate to fix this mess and we are addressing it head on.

“It is vital for a child’s education that they have a qualified teacher in front of them for every lesson, and that is what we’re working towards.”

On average, NSW’s casual teacher shortage looks like:

  • A daily shortfall of more than 3000 teachers, or 42% of what is required to fill classes;
  • More than 9800 lessons without a teacher across the state every day;
  • 87% of NSW public schools impacted by a shortage of casual teachers each day;
  • Worse at schools in the metropolitan south and west (47%), rural north (47%), rural south and west (59%), Connected Communities (72%) and at schools for specific purposes (68%);
  • 40% of primary school lessons requiring alternative supervision arrangements covered by merging/collapsing classes;
  • 28% of high school lessons without a teacher covered by minimal supervision.

The survey also reveals how the severe shortfall in casual teachers results in a domino effect – including cancellation of library lessons, programs providing additional support to those most in need and time set aside for professional development.  

“The Minns Labor government is delivering on its promise to listen to teachers and parents and take action to turn around the teacher shortage crisis that has been failing NSW public school students for years,” said Minister Car.

“Since being elected in March, the Minns Labor government has taken steps to reduce teacher workload, delivering teachers their largest pay rise in a generation, and making more than 16,000 teachers and support staff on temporary engagements permanent.

“A number of other programs and recruitment initiatives are in place or under development to attract more teachers to areas where they are particularly in demand,” she said.

A new plan for public education was released by the NSW Government yesterday.

“Our Plan for NSW Public Education is a 4-year road map developed after unprecedented consultation with the education community across NSW, with contributions from an estimated 20,000 people,” said Minister Car.

She said the plan has a strong focus on attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, especially in high-need locations and specialist subject areas.

The plan also contains commitments to:

  • high educational expectations for every student
  • high-quality, evidence-based teaching in every school
  • improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students
  • improve student wellbeing and engagement with school
  • increase the proportion of children enrolled in preschool
  • increase the proportion of students going into university, training and work after school
  • strengthen trust and respect for the teaching profession and support staff wellbeing and development.

“With this plan we’ll build on our very strong foundation of high-quality teaching and learning, equity for our students and families, and wellbeing for our students and school staff,” said Secretary of the Department of Education, Murat Dizdar.

“Our vision recognises diversity makes us better and students perform best when they feel valued, are cared for and have everything they need to achieve success.”

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