Impact of teacher shortages in NSW public schools revealed

A new survey has revealed the impact of teacher shortages across the state.

The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of bags hanging on a wall. The NSW Government logo overlaying a photo of bags hanging on a wall.

Students in almost 10,000 lessons every day are being left without adequate instruction in disruptive class arrangements, due to a 42 per cent shortfall in the number of casual teachers available to teach classes, a new survey by the NSW Department of Education has found.

Public schools across NSW have been left short on average 3000 casual teachers every day – nearly half of what is required to meet the state’s educational demand – after 12 years of neglect under the former Liberal National Government, which denied there was a problem and refused to collect data on it.

In the state’s primary schools, 40 per cent of the lessons unable to be covered by a casual teacher resulted in merged or collapsed classes. In high schools, students in nearly 30 per cent of uncovered classes were left to their own devices with minimal supervision.

The numbers were significantly worse in parts of Sydney’s west and south-west, rural and remote areas, and at schools for specific purposes – but the issue was widespread with almost 90 per cent of schools across the state reporting a shortfall in casual teachers on a given day.

The survey is the first of its kind to gather data on the true extent and impact of the teacher shortage faced by NSW public schools. It provides damning evidence of the gravity of the issue inherited by the NSW Government, which the former Liberal National Government ignored and denied.

On average, NSW’s casual teacher shortage looks like:

  • A daily shortfall of more than 3000 teachers, or 42 per cent of what is required to fill classes
  • More than 9800 lessons without a teacher across the state every day
  • 87 per cent of NSW public schools impacted by a shortage of casual teachers each day
  • Worse at schools in the metropolitan south and west (47 per cent), rural north (47 per cent), rural south and west (59 per cent), Connected Communities (72 per cent) and at schools for specific purposes (68 per cent)
  • 40 per cent of primary school lessons requiring alternative supervision arrangements covered by merging/collapsing classes
  • 28 per cent of high school lessons without a teacher covered by minimal supervision

The survey also reveals how the severe shortfall in casual teachers results in a domino effect – including cancellation of library lessons, programs providing additional support to those most in need, and time set aside for professional development.

The NSW Government is delivering on its promise to listen to teachers and parents and take action to turn around the teacher shortage crisis that has been failing NSW public school students for years.

Since being elected in March the NSW Government has taken steps to reduce teacher workload, delivering teachers their largest pay rise in a generation, and making more than 16,000 teachers and support staff on temporary engagements permanent.

A number of other programs and recruitment initiatives are in place or under development to attract more teachers to areas where they are particularly in demand.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“We already knew from listening to teachers and parents that NSW has been facing a teacher shortage crisis leaving huge numbers of students without quality teaching every single day – but the former government told teachers it was a ‘lie’ they had made up.

“This survey lays bare the extent of the crisis that the former Liberal National Government denied and ignored while they claimed teachers weren’t working hard enough to get a pay rise.

Even to this day the former government is in denial about their legacy. The Minns Labor Government was elected on a mandate to fix this mess and we are addressing it head on.

“It is vital for a child’s education that they have a qualified teacher in front of them for every lesson, and that is what we’re working towards.”

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