Teachers are calling on the state government to take action to boost their salaries and ease workloads to address a workforce shortage.
Port Macquarie Teachers Association president Cass Tonkin, along with NSW Teachers Federation representatives, took the issue to Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams' office on Thursday [October 7].
Port Macquarie Teachers Association members staged a demonstration outside the Port Macquarie electorate office.
The move came after internal education department documents showed NSW was at risk of running out of teachers within five years.
NSW Teachers Federation Mid-North Coast organiser Ian Watson said the members moved beyond a simple meeting to demonstrate their frustration and anger.
"This is a serious issue and it is only going to be resolved through serious government action," he said.
"You can't deal with the teacher shortage if you don't deal with the two issues that are causing it - uncompetitive salaries and untenable workload.
"It is only going to get worse unless there is a clear reset of salaries and workload."
Members at four schools in the Hastings have taken stop-work action in the past few months.
Mr Watson said the most recent stop-work action was at Hastings Secondary College Westport Campus on September 16, where more than 269 lessons had not been covered due to an inability to find a qualified teacher..
The industrial award that determines teachers' salaries and conditions expires in December.
Teachers and principals are seeking a salary increase of up to 7.5 per cent a year and an increase in preparation time of two hours a week to allow more time for lesson planning and collaboration with colleagues.
Mrs Williams said she always had an open door policy when it came to stakeholder groups including the NSW Teachers Federation and public school staff so she was surprised to learn of the recent demonstration outside her office.
The Port Macquarie MP has met with representatives of the NSW Teachers Federation on a number of occasions, most recently in July.
"I listened to the concerns they raised including in relation to teacher shortages and subsequently made representations on their behalf to the Minister for Education," Mrs Williams said.
"I also made a commitment that on receipt of a reply from the minister I would meet with them again to discuss the response and any ongoing concerns."
Mrs Williams said the Department of Education had recruited 3400 additional teachers since 2019 alone.
"There are more teachers employed than ever before with a total of more than 90,000 teachers on the payroll, including temporary, part-time and casual teachers," she said.
"The NSW government is working on a number of initiatives to ensure a sustainable supply of quality teachers, including in critical subject areas and locations, and is on track to deliver its commitment to recruit an additional 4,600 teachers over four years.
"In the 2021/22 NSW Budget, $124.8 million was committed over four years to realise the initiatives included in the Teacher Supply Strategy."
Mrs Williams said the state government had also accepted the recommendations of the Rural and Remote Incentives Review and allocated $15 million to action priority initiatives.
"This substantial investment will build on an existing spend of approximately $38 million annually to boost the supply of quality teachers," she said.
But NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the size of enrolment increases within the coming years meant NSW was in a race to safeguard the right of all children to be taught by a qualified teacher.
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