Teachers Protest Casual Teacher Shortages In High Schools Across The Coffs Coast

Coffs Harbour High School teachers protest during their break time over staff shortages. Photo: supplied.


TEACHERS at high schools across the Coffs Coast have taken industrial action in recent weeks to highlight staffing shortages.

Ian Watson, the Regional Coordinator for the NSW Teachers’ Federation told News Of The Area that one local high school has already had 40 days this year when classes where the teacher was on leave were not covered.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Education told News Of The Area, “On May 26 teachers at Toormina High School held a 20-minute stop-work meeting from 11:50am.

“On June 1, 43 teachers at Coffs Harbour High School held a ten minute stop-work meeting from 11.30am during recess just outside the school boundary.”

The spokesperson said that there is one teacher vacancy at Toormina High School which is currently in the process of being filled and that every class at the school is staffed by qualified teachers.

He said that Coffs Harbour High School has no permanent teacher vacancies.

Mr Watson said that the issue is not how many permanent teacher vacancies there are, but about personnel planning and the availability of casual teachers.

He said that there are 1000 permanent teacher vacancies across the state.

“This means that, every day, there are at least 1000 classes without a qualified permanent teacher in front of them,” he said.

“The government has no plan to solve the current crisis let alone cope with increased enrolments in the future.”

He pointed out that the recent Gallup report into the work of teachers indicated that salaries and conditions are not attracting people to become teachers.

The Teachers’ Federation says that there has not been any reduction in face to face teaching in NSW high schools in 60 years, despite significant increases in non-classroom responsibilities.

Dr Gallup’s report recommended an increase in the entitlement of all schools so that the schools have the capacity to cope with teacher absences.

Mr Watson cited the Rorris Report, commissioned by the Teachers’ Federation, which said that a further 11,000 public school teachers are needed for projected enrolment increases but, if class sizes were to be at the national average, the figure becomes 14,000.

These figures do not take into account increases in children with additional educational needs.

The Department of Education spokesperson said that a new staffing agreement between the Department and the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation will enhance mobility and ensure there is a sufficient supply of well-trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers across our system.

He also said that the Department is developing a 10-year staffing strategy to address the current and emerging needs of our system.

However, it is unclear how the immediate issues of teacher workload and student supervision are being addressed.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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