Plan to find 3700 new teachers to plug school shortage

“I’ve been having regular round tables with teachers from all over the state. What has come through is the joy – how much they enjoy their job, how much they feel connected and responsible for the students. They talk about students as if they are their own.”

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The department said it used workforce modelling, analysis of teacher supply and demand, and tactics that worked elsewhere to develop the strategy, which it expects will deliver 3700 teachers over 10 years, including 1600 in the first five years.

However, past attempts to boost teacher pipelines show mixed results from strategies such as incentives, scholarships and mid-career pathways. Over 10 years, Victoria’s Teach for Australia program, which fast-tracks people from other professions into teaching, produced just 619 teachers.

Regional incentive schemes have existed for years, and have been tweaked many times, but teacher numbers in the bush are still dropping. There are teacher shortages overseas and interstate, which could also make poaching teachers difficult.

One internal department document also said it was unclear whether there was much demand for teaching assistants to become fully qualified.

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the shortage was a direct result of non-competitive salaries and unsustainable workloads. “If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need,” he said.

However, Ms Mitchell said NSW teachers were paid well compared with those interstate and overseas. “There are opportunities for career progression, there are opportunities to teach in rural and regional schools, and it’s also about creating more opportunities,” she said.

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