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Inquiry recommends changes to be made for teachers

An independent inquiry which examined the changing nature of teaching during the past 17 years has recommended major overhauls be made.

Chaired by the former WA premier Dr Geoff Gallop and commissioned by the NSW Teacher’s Federation, the inquiry titled Valuing the Teaching Profession, received more than 1000 submissions.

It recommended salaries be increased by up to 15 percent for public school teachers over the 2022 and 2023 period, an increase of two hours to allow teachers additional time to prepare lessons and collaborate with colleagues, an overhaul of staffing arrangements to provide more specialist support services for teachers and an increase in permanent teachers to overcome casual teacher shortages and the scrapping of the government’s timetable to introduce a new curriculum by 2024.

NSW teachers have had a 2.5 percent growth gap on their wages since 2011, in line with all public sector wages and according to the inquiry, they have faced increased workloads due to constant policy changes, significant increases in student need, rapid changes in technology, the expansion and frequent reform of the curriculum, new compliance measures, administration, data collection and reporting responsibilities and higher community expectations of what schools and teachers can do.

The inquiry also found teachers have not been compensated for the rise in their skills and responsibilities, and salaries have declined significantly compared to those of other professions.

In a media release, NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the findings have to be a wake-up call for politicians, adding the recommendations must be acted upon.

“The NSW Government must act in a way that is proportionate to the crisis we are facing,” he said.

“This is the first inquiry into the work of teachers since 2004 and it reveals a devastating picture of unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries, leading to shortages and difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers.

“Teachers need more time to concentrate on teaching and learning and improving student results.

“We need a significant reset of their salaries to recognise that teaching is a far more difficult and complex profession and to help recruit the thousands of additional teachers we will need to meet an unprecedented 25 percent increase in enrolments expected within the next 20 years.”

The inquiry was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation after the imposition of a wages policy in NSW that made it impossible for the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to continue hearing work value cases involving teachers as undertaken each decade between 1970 and 2004.

Those cases assessed the changing nature of teachers work, the salaries they were paid and the attractiveness of the profession.

Following each case, salaries were reset at a significantly higher level to recognise the changing role of teachers and the higher skills and responsibilities they had.

Mr Gavrielatos said the years since 2004 had been a period of unprecedented change and the recommendations in the inquiry are very important given what has been found existing in NSW public education.

Mr Gavrielatos and Dr Gallop have been travelling across the North Coast region recently to meet with local schools.

The Federation will now seek meetings with the leaders of each political party to discuss the findings and recommendations of the inquiry.