Since 1848, there has been substantial growth in the number of teachers teaching in NSW government schools.

Below is a chronological list of the number of teachers in government schools since 1851, and the standard teacher training.

Download the full list of teacher training (PDF 60.52KB) in NSW from 1850 onward.

Pupil teachers

Until 1905 most teachers in government schools were trained on the job as pupil-teachers, who usually began their four-year course between the ages of 13 and 16. During school hours pupil-teachers taught an individual class full-time, and each day outside of school hours, they were instructed in teaching method and content by the head teacher. Preference for entrance to the training schools was given to pupil-teachers who had completed their course, but many graduating pupil-teachers immediately became teachers or assistant teachers.

Promotion system

In 1854 a system of classifying and promoting teachers was devised and remained in place for primary school teachers until 1943. In order to progress beyond the minimum salary level and advance in the service, teachers had to pass a series of examinations set by the department as well as demonstrating their efficiency to inspectors. The Teacher's Certificate introduced in 1943 was awarded to all new teachers after appropriate pre-service training and a probationary period. No further qualifications were demanded.

Teachers' colleges

The training of primary school teachers was controlled by the Department of Education until 1970, when teachers colleges were absorbed into the tertiary education system. From 1911 most secondary school teachers undertook a university degree course followed by a university diploma of education, or a one-year professional course at a teachers college.

Download the full list of teacher numbers (PDF 235.08KB) in government schools in NSW from 1851 onward. To view current data on teacher numbers in NSW government schools, visit the ABS Schools, Australia (4221.0).


  • Historical
  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
Return to top of page Back to top