The Head Of The Inquiry Into Teachers’ Work Visits Sawtell

Members of the NSW Teachers Federation with Dr. Gallop (L) and Mr. Gavrielatos at Sawtell P.S. Photo: Andrew Vivian.


THE Chair of an independent inquiry into teacher’s work, Dr Geoff Gallop, and the NSW Teachers Federation President, Angelo Gavrielatos, visited Sawtell Public School on Tuesday as part of a month-long ‘road trip’ to highlight the inquiry’s report.

The independent inquiry, the first investigation of teachers’ work since 2004, has recommended major changes to the salaries and working conditions of teachers to address a crisis caused by rapidly escalating workloads, uncompetitive salaries and significant teacher shortages.

The report of the inquiry, ‘Valuing the Teaching Profession – an independent inquiry’ was released last week and found that the dedication and commitment of teachers remained high but profound changes in the volume and complexity of their work has led to unsustainable workloads.

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Constant policy changes, significant increases in student need, rapid changes in technology, the expansion and frequent reform of the curriculum, new compliance measures, administration, data collection and reporting responsibilities and higher community expectations of what schools and teachers can do have all contributed to increases in teachers’ workloads.

Dr Gallop, a former Premier of Western Australia, told those in attendance, “We were shocked by the amount of change that has come from the State and the Commonwealth as well as from social changes.”

He said that the main issues were a massive increase in workload intensity and complexity, an increasing wages gap between teachers and other professions and the failure of government to provide adequate support services.

This resulted in teachers remaining committed but becoming increasingly frustrated.

Dr Gallop said, “Ninety percent of parents were supportive of teachers when they saw what teachers did during COVID-19.”

Mr Gavrielatos said, “In the absence of a policy reset the existing problems will become huge.

“Ultimately, there will be kids who will be denied their right to be taught by a qualified teacher.”

Speaking directly to the teachers in attendance, Mr Gavrielatos said, “You don’t need anyone to tell you that you are working under unsustainable conditions.”

There has been a 300 percent increase in students with disabilities along with higher numbers of students from disadvantaged and non-English speaking backgrounds in NSW schools since 2004.

Teachers have become far more skilled at determining the needs of each student and the teaching and learning strategies that will help them succeed.

Mr Gavrielatos points out this is time-consuming and highly specialised work.

Instead of giving teachers more time to prepare lessons and collaborate with colleagues over the strategies that will lift results, they have been saddled with huge administration, data collection and compliance workloads.

Teachers have two jobs now, teaching and administration, which results in them being run off their feet and caught up in more red tape that the public could possibly imagine.

As well, principals are working, on average, 62 hours a week while teachers are working, on average, 55 hours a week now, attempting to meet all the needs of students while dealing with the compliance and administration burden that the NSW Department has saddled them with.

Mr Gavrielatos said the right of teachers to approach the Industrial Relations Commission was removed by the State Government in 2012, leading to stagnation in teachers’ wages.

“We won’t be attracting young people into the profession if wages aren’t increased,” he said.

“The teacher shortage is already here, including on the North Coast.”

Mr Gavrielatos also praised Sawtell Public School Principal Michael Hepi, for being one of the 26 people who appeared before the inquiry.

Dr Gallop said that the inquiry report includes recommendations for a 6-year action plan.

The report can be found at


By Andrew VIVIAN



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