NSW Government finds $1.4 billion to fund teacher wage increase

The NSW Government has identified $1.4 billion in savings to fund historic teachers wage increases.

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.

The NSW Government has identified $1.4 billion in savings to fund historic teachers wage increases by cutting bureaucratic waste within the NSW Department of Education that exploded under the former government through failed policies such as Local Schools, Local Decisions.

The first Minns Labor Government budget will finally end the former government's failed Local Schools, Local Decisions regime which burdened schools with greater administrative work and saw no improvement in student outcomes.

The ill-conceived policy led to the creation of new executive positions that diverted an army of more than 3000 highly qualified teachers away from the classroom and into desk jobs.

The savings needed to fund wage increases above the centrally-funded 4.5 per cent this financial year and properly recognise the value of teachers’ work will be met by removing waste and duplication and will instead get some of the state’s most experienced teachers back in front of students.

Getting executive teachers back into the classroom where their expertise is most needed is one of several steps the NSW Government is taking to pay for the biggest wage increase for teachers in a generation and break the back of NSW’s teacher shortage crisis.

These steps include:

  • Redirecting a proportion of discretionary funds that had taken teachers off classroom duties to do admin, at a saving of $414 million over four years.
  • Reducing programs that don’t directly support schools, including failed recruitment initiatives and unnecessary communications contractors: More than 200 contractors and management consultants will no longer be required, saving $411 million over four years.
  • Applying a savings dividend across each corporate division of the NSW Department of Education, saving $328 million over four years.
  • Removing duplication from programs in digital learning, communications and management systems, saving $250 million over four years.
  • Applying a one-off cost reduction through renegotiated commercial contracts in areas such as IT, telephony and travel, saving $45 million in the first year.

Under the steps detailed above, the NSW Government will save $268 million in the first year of the new agreement, effective 9 October 2023, and $390 million in each of the three years to follow.

The reforms go beyond funding the essential pay rises that will keep teachers in their vocation of choice – they will return the focus of schools to their core task of educating the future of our state.

Under the Heads of Agreement signed with the NSW Teachers Federation on Saturday, both sides committed to work together on an orderly process to spread teaching loads more fairly across senior teachers, and ensure there is a pathway for the state’s best teachers to be promoted while continuing their vital work of teaching.

Teachers were informed in the last 24 hours of an immediate freeze on the recruitment of the non-teaching executive positions created under the former government, while the department reviews school staffing arrangements.

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

“Paying our teachers is an investment in our state’s future - the education of our kids. Giving teachers the pay rise that they deserve is long overdue, not only is it a mark of respect but we need to recruit and retain more teachers.

“There are savings to be had from within the system which we can direct back into paying teachers what they are worth. A qualified teacher paid a fair wage in our classrooms will reap dividends in educational outcomes into the future.

“It is a responsible and sustainable use of our education budget that goes directly back into the classroom and teachers.

“Under the former Liberal and National Government thousands of experienced teachers were pulled off class, which exacerbated a teacher shortage crisis which to this day they deny even existed.”

“Principals were loaded up with unnecessary paperwork and were forced to turn to trusted teachers to help. Thousands of teachers were taken away from the classroom and put behind desks because schools were loaded up with paperwork.

“That has to change. We need our best and brightest teachers back in the classroom where they can really make a difference, applying their experience and skills to mentor teachers and teach our students.”

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