The Department of Education has dismissed reports of a staff shortage at Tamworth High School, despite mounting claims to the contrary by parents, students and even former staff members.
In a statement to the Leader, a department spokesperson said the school "is currently finalising the process for the only outstanding vacancy", and "is not flagged as of concern".
"Other than the recruitment position being filled, all permanent positions are accounted for and filled with appropriate staff," the spokesperson said.
"Tamworth High School does not have 'a major teacher shortage'."
Meanwhile, the Leader has been contacted by former staff members who claim that recommendations from a "leadership and management review", carried out last year by private contractors SPICE Educational Evaluations, "were swept under the carpet".
The department denied that a "review" had taken place at all, instead insisting that "as part of its commitment to continuing improvement, the school invited an external specialist to facilitate an evaluation".
"The report was met with broad support and many of the recommendations have already been implemented," the spokesperson said.
"The facilitator presented a range of findings and all staff were provided with the evaluation report."
However, the department declined to comment on what any of those findings were, when the evaluation was undertaken or what recommendations had been implemented, and would also not be drawn on the cost of the evaluation.
The Leader has also heard from several parents of students who report multiple members of staff leaving; and up to four classrooms, of differing year groups and even subjects, being combined due to a lack of available staff.
One mother, whom the Leader has chosen not to name, said her Year 10 son has had four different maths teachers this term alone.
"There have been three and even four classes combined under one teacher on several occasions - and sometimes different year groups and even subjects are being combined," she said.
"If the kids aren't fast enough to get a seat, they either sit on the floor or get pushed into the next class.
"They are watching movies instead of doing work - this term has been an absolute nightmare."
The department responded to these claims by saying only: "The mix of staff will vary throughout the school year, and when a teacher is absent for any reason they may not be replaced by the same teacher for every period."
A Year 11 student, who will also not be named, said she no longer planned to complete the HSC, instead opting to "get out of the school as soon as I can" and enrol at TAFE.
"A lot of the teachers have left, especially a lot of the male teachers," she said.
"With the combined classes and low staff, it has been really hard to get help - it has even been a little bit intimidating asking for help."