THE NSW Department of Education is working on initiatives to combat severe staffing shortages in the region, a spokesman has said.
It comes after NSW Teachers Federation members at Peel High School held a 15-minute stop-work meeting on Thursday morning, because classes had to be cancelled and collapsed this week.
The spokesman said there had been an "abnormally high number of unexpected staff absences at Peel High School over the past week".
"Occasionally, when a number of teachers are absent from school unexpectedly and casual teachers are unavailable, classes can be combined to ensure students remain supervised at all times," the spokesman said.
"There are 80 teachers at Peel High School and four unfilled vacancies which are currently actively being recruited for.
"Schools try to fill vacant positions as quickly as possible, but finding the right teacher for the position is not a quick process. For rural and remote schools, this often means the applicant needs to move to the area, which often does not happen quickly."
Mercurius Goldstein, from the Tamworth branch of the federation, said the government needed to offer teachers "attractive working and a professional level of salary that matches their qualifications and experience" in order to fill these positions.
"[Peel] teachers have been forced to take action due to the government's neglect of their responsibilities to fully staff all schools," he said.
"A fully-staffed school is what students deserve and what parents and community members rightly expect."
The spokesman said the state government was working on initiatives to "ensure there's a steady flow of teachers into the profession now and into the future".
"The new staffing agreement, starting in July 2021 and announced in late May, and negotiated between the department and the NSW Teachers Federation, will enhance mobility and ensure there is a sufficient supply of well-trained, skilled and knowledgeable teachers across our system," he said.
"The agreement has a number of provisions to support schools in rural locations, including a robust transfer system and improved opportunities to appoint eligible temporary teachers to permanent vacancies."
The fast stream program will also play a role in attracting people to town, he said.
"Our fast stream program will play a critical role in attracting the best people to teaching and lifting the profile of the profession. The fast stream program will encourage people to undertake a career in teaching by providing an accelerated pathway to school leadership for high-performing teachers and high-potential university graduates.
"As part of this program, all participants will complete at least one placement in a regional school where teachers are in high demand.
"A review of our incentives program is currently underway to assess the effectiveness of the overall scheme in attracting and retaining teachers in rural and remote locations."
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