Education department denies casual teacher shortage claims in Tamworth | Poll

Crunching the numbers: While the Department of Education claims there are over 1000 casual staff registered in the New England area, the Teachers Federation believes a current shortage is having a major impact on local schools.
Crunching the numbers: While the Department of Education claims there are over 1000 casual staff registered in the New England area, the Teachers Federation believes a current shortage is having a major impact on local schools.

Casual teachers in regional areas are being offered rental subsidies of up to 90 percent, as well as retention bonuses of up to $5000, according to the NSW Department of Education.

It comes in response to claims made last week, that the Tamworth region was in the grip of a casual teacher shortage, that was having a major impact on schools throughout the area.

The Teachers Federation said the issue had been brought to the attention of the department on several occasions, and that it “was not getting the attention it (the issue) deserves”.

Now the department has hit back.

Despite claims by the Federation that the New England and Parkes region only had 300 casual teachers on their books, the department in turn claimed to have 1000 in the New England region alone.

“The situation in schools is monitored,” a department spokesperson said.

“As recently as December last year, an extensive survey was conducted which indicated that the majority of schools, including in the local area, could secure casual teachers across regions and key learning areas, at most times.”

The department also said it runs several incentive programs to attract more casual staff to regional and remote areas; including programs with rental subsidies and annual retention bonuses.

While the incentives “vary from school to school”, other incentives included additional personal leave, additional personal development days, locality allowances and transfer points, as well as an increased opportunity to gain permanency after tenure as a temporary teacher.

“The Department of Education officers work with and support schools that may experiences issues, such as securing casual teachers,” the spokesperson said.

“It continues to review systems and schemes to improve availability, to ensure they are responding to changing demands for casual teachers.”

The December survey also showed that the New England Region had the third highest demand for casual teachers in the state, along with the Riverina and Western NSW, although did note a trend that schools are drawing on a decreasing number of casuals statewide.

Recent reports have emerged of local classes having to be combined, staff teaching out of subject, staff unable to complete professional development and other staffing issues.