Rewarding excellence in NSW classrooms

An issues paper released today highlights the need for incentives to keep the most effective teachers in front of students.

A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image. A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image.

The NSW Government has announced a groundbreaking new approach to reward teaching excellence and attract more people to the profession, drawing on best practice around the world.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said evidence published today in an issues paper on the Rewarding Excellence in Teaching program sets out a compelling case for change.

“We want a modern education system that recognises and rewards excellence in our classrooms, strengthens the practice of all teachers, and makes the profession more attractive as a career,” Mr Perrottet said.

“This program is not about NAPLAN results, performance pay or rewarding tenure. It is about identifying and recognising teachers who go above and beyond in their teaching practice, and want to support and inspire other teachers to do the same.”

The issues paper identifies that:

  • NSW classroom teachers have limited options to progress in their careers without taking on formal leadership roles outside of the classroom.
  • Effective teachers are more likely to stay in the classroom if they can gain career progression from the chalkboard, including significant salary increases.
  • Keeping highly effective teachers in the classroom is the single-biggest factor in improving student outcomes.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the new approach would bring seismic long-term change to the NSW education system.

“We are not only looking at where initiatives like this have worked overseas, we’re also looking at past attempts closer to home to make sure that our Rewarding Excellence in Teaching program is world-class, stands the test of time, and makes the biggest impact where it’s needed – in the classroom,” Ms Mitchell said.

“There are many options on the table regarding design and implementation of this ambitious reform – that's why we’ll continue to hear from experts, teachers, principals, school leaders and all those involved in our school communities across the state.”

The paper looks at international models of rewarding excellence like Singapore and Washington D.C. as well as programs closer to home, such as those in Victoria and Western Australia, finding that many programs featured defined standards, specific roles, and higher salaries.

Professor John Hattie, a world-leading expert on education outcomes and student learning who is providing independent expert advice on the reform, said initial consultation had been positive.

“Conversations with stakeholders so far have been robust and constructive. I look forward to continuing these important discussions to ensure we keep the best teachers in NSW classrooms,” Professor Hattie said.

The central aims of the program are to:

  • Create a more attractive career path for classroom teachers, while raising the status of the profession.
  • Leverage the skills of highly effective teachers to strengthen teaching practice across the public education system, for the benefit of all students.

Once consultation is complete, a policy paper will be finalised before the program begins implementation in 2023.

The issues paper can be viewed online.

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