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Staffing crisis sparks walkout at Hunter schools

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NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) members at two Hunter schools walked off the job today over numerous issues, including the impact of state-wide staff shortages.

In the past week alone, similar protests have taken place at Tumbarumba Public, Buninyong Public, Lightning Ridge Central, Wyrallah Public, Finley High, Drummond Memorial Public, Gilgandra High, Murrumbidgee Regional High and Blayney High.

Now, teachers are following suit at Vacy Public and Mount Pleasant Public in the Hunter.

NSWTF deputy president Henry Rajendra said the union’s members continue to be fed up with the lack of action and planning, which has led to shortages across the state.

“The NSW Government has no plan to recruit the teachers NSW needs,” he stated.

“Those at Vacy Public School took action over the impact the dearth is having on their school.

“The shortage of casual teachers has meant when a teacher is absent on leave, classes are collapsed and the workloads of their colleagues increase.

“Teachers are also angry the NSW Government has failed to lift their salaries to attract and retain teachers.”

NSWTF members at Mount Pleasant Public School, near Singleton, also joined in today, demanding the Department of Education negotiate a new award and not attempt to impose the 2.5% salary cap.

“The NSW Government has responded to warnings that the state could run out of teachers within five years by issuing a glossy brochure that recycles failed initiatives and ignores its own department’s advice that uncompetitive wages are turning smart young people off teaching,” Mr Rajendra said.

“Teachers have had enough of the hollow promises that the Department of Education will reduce their increasing workloads and address the staffing crisis in our schools.”

Mr Rajendra said as it stands today, classes across the state were being combined, students were provided with only minimal supervision and teachers were teaching outside their area of expertise in hundreds of schools across NSW due to already existing shortages.

“Teachers have been waiting 10 years for a comprehensive workforce plan that shows how the problem will be fixed,” he explained.

“They also want to know how many teachers we need and how the government will end the unacceptable situation where 1,000 permanent positions are vacant and 15% of teachers are teaching outside their area of expertise.

Investing in teachers through higher salaries has been shown in national and international research to improve the attraction and retention of teachers and draw into the profession people with higher levels of academic attainment.

“What is required right now is an urgent increase in teachers’ salaries and their preparation time.

“That will have a real impact on the attractiveness of the profession and the education children receive.”

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