NSW Education Minister and the Deputy Premier have assured rural and remote communities suffering through the drought that they are not about to lose their teaching staff.
The Ministers, Sarah Mitchell and John Barilaro committed the Department of Education to maintain teacher numbers in drought-affected schools to ensure continuity and stability for regional and remote students.
“This drought is relentless, but that shouldn’t mean students whose families choose to stay in the regions should have the quality of their education affected,” Barilaro said.
Mitchell said 220 schools will have their entitlement guaranteed by default, with a further 36 schools encouraged to apply for staffing entitlement maintenance.
“This Government is passionate about ensuring every child, no matter where they are from, has access to top quality teachers,” Mitchell said.
“Attracting and retaining good teachers in regional areas is difficult enough, so it is critical that we maintain staffing numbers now more than ever to make sure our country kids aren’t missing out on having the opportunity to be the best they can be.
Mitchell said support for staff in regional areas would continue when the drought breaks.
Craig Petersen, the acting president NSW Secondary Principals' Council, welcomed the Minister's announcement, saying it brings "enormous relief" to the 220 schools identified as drought-affected.
"For these schools, and another 36 that have been identified as bordering the most severely drought-affected areas of the state and who are eligible to apply for staffing relief if their staffing levels have been shown to be impacted by the ongoing drought, this announcement also brings certainty that educational programs for students will continue and that these towns will benefit from not losing teachers from their communities," Petersen told The Educator.
"Public education has a social contract to with our communities which we take very seriously. We are sometimes the only agency left in a community and families rely on us to not only educate but care for their children."