A breakthrough moment: NSW teachers on track for historic pay rise

A breakthrough moment: NSW teachers on track for historic pay rise

An in-principle deal announced by the NSW Government and NSW Teachers Federation today will make the state’s school staff the best paid in the country and help to tackle worsening workforce shortages.

The announcement follows a warning by the union of an “escalation of action” if the government continued to reject a deal that would have seen starting teachers’ salary increase by nearly $10,000, and the maximum teaching salary increase by about $9,000.

In a counteroffer, the NSW Government proposed what the union called an “inferior” four-year award that would introduce a 2.5% cap on pay increases in years two, three and four.

“The teacher shortage in NSW is getting worse and the Government must address it by reviving and honouring the agreement it had to pay teachers what they are worth,” Acting Federation president Henry Rajendra told The Educator in August.

“Lifting wages for the first year but then clawing that back by paying less then inflation for the subsequent three is counter-productive and demoralising. It will aggravate the teacher shortage, and short-change our kids.” 

However, in a statement today, the NSW Teachers Federation’s executive confirmed it had reached an "in-principle Heads of Agreement" with the NSW Government over teacher pay, including the withdrawal of the Government’s previous four-year proposal

NSW Teachers Federation acting President, Henry Rajendra, said the new proposal represents "the most significant improvement to NSW teachers’ wages in decades". 

If the agreement goes ahead, the starting salary for a NSW teacher will increase from $75,791 to $85,000 and the salary for a top of the scale teacher will increase from $113,042 to $122,100. All teachers will also move to a new higher paying step.

School counsellors will be paid according to a new salary scale consisting of five (5) annual steps, which recognises their dual qualification and acute staff shortages in their discipline. School counsellors at band 2.3, senior psychologists education and leaders psychology practice will have their salaries adjusted to the same level as head teachers/ assistant principals, deputy principals and principals, respectively. School counsellors at bands 1 to 2.2 will move to a new higher paying step on the salary scale.

Casual teacher and casual counsellor school rates are also adjusted upwards from a two-step scale to a three-step scale linked to the steps 1, 3 and 5 of the new full time salary scale. Award based allowances are also increased by 4 per cent.

“This is a historic advance. Our children are the ultimate beneficiaries of this agreement if it is approved," Rajendra said, calling the agreement a "breakthrough moment".

“The agreement we struck with the government has been resurrected and honoured. The teacher shortage is a crisis that brewed for 12 long years. It can only be tackled by paying teachers what they are worth."

Rajendra added that the pay rise "will attract and retain more hardworking teachers and prevent them drifting to other professions or states."

“Thousands of teachers have fought tirelessly to bring us to this point. They have done it because they believe in the value and social  purpose of the teaching profession. And they believe all kids deserve a decent shot at life, regardless of background or bank balance," he said.

“We cannot forget this staffing crisis was a direct result of the former government’s wage cap that artificially suppressed teachers’ pay and their policy failures that pushed more and more work on to teachers resulting in intolerable and unmanageable workloads. Investing in teachers is investing in our future.”

The NSW Teachers Federation Executive will recommend to its State Council meeting on 9 September that the proposed Heads of Agreement be endorsed.

Under the proposed agreement the current award will be varied and extended until 8 October 2024. The Federation and the Department will negotiate a new three-year award to commence at the expiration of the varied award.

“Negotiating an outcome that demonstrates respect to teachers has always been my highest priority. In order to tackle the teacher shortage crisis we must restore respect to the teaching profession, so teachers are free to do their jobs without additional stress,” Deputy Premier and NSW Education Minister Prue Car said in a statement today.

“While there is much more to do, today marks an important step forward as we continue working to rebuild our state’s education system.”