NSW Teachers Federation members stopped work at several schools across the state last week, including two in the Clarence Valley, in protest over staff shortages, and to express their concerns of being unable to find replacement teachers to fill casual and temporary positions.
In two separate media releases, NSW Teachers Federation Deputy President Henry Rajendra said teachers are angry the NSW Government has failed to properly staff local education centers. He said the impact at Grafton High School has resulted in a large number of classes being left without a teacher for many months this year, and during the past six weeks, 160 teaching periods have been left uncovered at the school. Mr. Rajendra said the situation at South Grafton High School has resulted in some classes being combined when casuals are unavailable, and in some cases, individual teachers are forced to supervise up to 70 students at a time.
“The NSW Government has let down students, parents, and the wider community by failing to provide teachers for every student and every class,” he said. “What is happening at South Grafton High School is unacceptable, and a direct result of the NSW Government’s failure to adequately staff public schools across the state. “Grafton High School has been unable to employ casual teachers to cover classes for colleagues who are on leave. “Every child in every class has the right to be taught by an appropriately trained teacher and it should be the responsibility of the Education Department to provide enough teachers for every school.”
Mr. Rajendra said the staffing crisis has been caused by the failure of the NSW Government to address the teacher shortage over more than a decade. He also said the recent Gallop Report showed that the recruitment and retention of teachers will require a significant increase in salaries. “The Education Department has known of the dire teacher shortage for some time but has failed to address the problem,” he said. “An independent inquiry called for a reset of staffing and resourcing of the state’s schools, and we are calling on the NSW Government and the Education Department to urgently get on with the job.”
A Grafton High School parent, who did not wish to be identified, said she was concerned her daughter in Year 8 was at risk of falling behind if teachers are not properly equipped with valuable resources and access to educational support services. “Students need to be supported during their education, and if their teachers aren’t being supported, I’m worried we’ll see a domino effect,” she said. “If teaching resources are under such significant pressure, how can they adequately teach our kids? “My daughter has desires to go to university, therefore she needs a high standard education. “I’m concerned her ambitions could be compromised if she isn’t receiving the best available education due to staff shortages.”
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 26 May 2021.