NSW schools about to get more permanent staff roles

NSW schools about to get more permanent staff roles

More than 1,400 teachers and support staff across NSW could receive job certainty by mid-July as the state’s government pushes ahead with its $400m ‘Education Future Fund’ aimed at creating 10,000 permanent teaching roles.

In recent years there have been growing concerns about the deteriorating job security of teachers and support staff, with reports showing nearly 40% of the NSW teaching workforce is on temporary or casual contracts.

Meanwhile, unmanageable workloads are exacerbating the workforce crisis. A 2022 survey of NSW teachers found two-in-three feel burnt out and one-in-five expect to quit within two years.

More recently, a parliamentary inquiry in February found the number of resignations surpassed retirements for the first time, while school leaders reported working nearly 70 hours a week.

In response to this, the NSW Education Department will this week be writing to 250 public schools about putting temporary teachers and staff on to permanent contracts.

Under the government’s plan, current resources that are going to temporary positions will be used to give teachers permanent places in the education system, and schools will have the ability to bring in the teachers they need based on their requirements.

Once principals confirm the eligibility of their staff, they will receive formal offers from the Department with an expectation the first day of permanent duty will be the start of term three on July 17.

“For young teachers without a permanent position, it makes it more difficult to get a home loan and lay down roots. This will give teachers the job security they need to stay in the profession and help turn around teacher shortages,” Minister Minns said.

The initiative is aimed at supporting high-need students and communities, as well as schools that have experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, including those with Aboriginal Education Officers.

The government says the program is not dependent on there being any current permanent vacancies at the school, and principals will be able to seek to fill existing vacancies as the initiative progresses.

A permanent position would provide teachers with security and peace of mind, allowing them to do the job that they love, Education Minister Prue Car said.

"We want to send a message to teachers that they are valued and appreciated for the important work they do," she said.

"I am so happy to be able to bring about such positive change within the first weeks of my taking on the job as the state's education minister."

‘Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic’

Dr David Roy, a senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle’s School of Education, said that while it’s encouraging to see a greater push towards improving job security for the state’s teachers and support staff, “top-down change” is needed to resolve workforce shortages.

“Across the English-speaking world, it’s same problem – teachers are leaving in droves or not choosing to enter the profession because of poor pay and conditions,” Dr Roy told The Educator.

“We know the solution – raise teachers’ pay commensurate with their qualifications, create career progression in their employment and if we want to attract people into teaching, we should make the degree more attractive, too.”

“Existing measures simply are not changing the working conditions or structures that are leading to people leaving. What it’s doing is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said.