Retired teachers return to classrooms

The Teachers Re-engage initiative aims to help arrest the teacher shortage crisis.

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.

Close to 150 former teachers are poised to return to public school classrooms this term, after accepting an offer as part of the Teachers Re-Engage initiative, aimed at arresting the teacher shortage crisis that gripped schools under the former government.

The progress comes after the NSW Government last year removed the public sector wage gap and gave teachers the largest pay rise in decades, while taking steps to reduce the burden of admin work that piled up under the former government.

Vacancies dropped by 20 per cent at the start of the 2024 school year compared with the same time last year, but there is still work to do.

Since November 2023, the NSW Department of Education has contacted more than 1500 teachers who quit their jobs in the past five years to ask them to consider returning.

More than 260 have expressed interest in returning to service, with 145 now linked with schools to perform casual and temporary work in more than 600 schools across the state.

Around 60 per cent of the returning teachers are coming out of retirement. Both the pay increase and workload reduction have been cited as motivations for returning.

The Department has simplified the re-employment process for these teachers by providing support for attaining accreditation, approval to teach, and a Working with Children Check.

Teachers re-engaged under the program will add to the department’s pool of qualified teachers who can cover gaps due to absences in schools, relieving pressure on other teachers and principals and reducing the amount of merged and cancelled classes in NSW schools.

Other employment options are also available to the cohort, including permanent teaching positions and working as small group tutors.

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

“We are doing everything we can to get more teachers in classrooms and Teachers Re-engage is part of our laser focus on reversing the teacher shortage that built up under the Liberals and Nationals.

“NSW started the new school year with a 20 per cent drop in the number of teacher vacancies, compared to the same time last year, but there is a long way to go.

“It’s wonderful to see the passion for teaching reignited among hundreds of experienced educators who thought they had taught their last lesson – but thanks to changes being made by the Labor Government, have decided to return.

“Ensuring every class has a qualified teacher in front of it is vital to improving student outcomes, which declined under the Liberals and Nationals.”

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