NSW teachers face increased workloads and an urgent pay rise of up to fifteen per cent is needed, according to an independent assessment of the teaching profession.
The inquiry, chaired by the former WA Premier Dr Geoff Gallop and commissioned by the NSW Teacher’s Federation, examined the changing nature of teaching since 2004.
It accepted one thousand submissions from teachers over a twelve month period.
The 200-page report makes a series of recommendations including a pay rise of between 10 and 15 per cent over the next six years, an increase in teacher’s preparation time and the provision of more specialist support teachers.
“At the same time as these increases in work, complexity and responsibility there has been a decline in the relative position of teacher salaries alongside that of other professions and a reduced attractiveness of public sector teaching as a career,” according to the report.
NSW teachers have had a 2.5 per cent growth cap on their wages since 2011, in line with all public sector wages. Recently the NSW government further reduced that cap to between 0.3 and 1.5 per cent for the next three years.
Report author Dr Gallop found teachers had not been compensated for the rise in their skills and responsibilities and had seen their salaries decline.
“We’re in a dangerous situation. There are already serious teacher shortages coming into the system,” Mr Gallop said.
He told AAP a crisis is looming because of extreme workload pressures and the pay disparity with other professions.
The report also recommends that teachers have an extra two hours a week to prepare lessons and collaborate with colleagues.
“We know that teachers are under huge pressure.. the (teacher) shortages gives us a clear signal that we need to do something,” Dr Gallop said.
Sydney Principal Cheryl McBride made a submission to the inquiry.
Ms McBride works at Smithfield primary where 72 of 700 children are identified as having disabilities, a system she entirely supports.
“I am given so little support for that unit. It means the workload is greater, the responsibility is greater. How far can you stretch a rubber band,” she told AAP:
“The system really draws on the good nature of teachers, but they’re forced to stretch themselves too far, and I’m worried about the long term impacts of doing that work.”
The principal agreed teachers should be given an extra two hours outside of the classroom and said a pay rise will help attract good people to the profession.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said: “These findings have to be a wake-up call for our politicians and the recommendations must be acted upon.”
Responding to the report’s release NSW Education Secretary Mark Scott told AAP that he looks forwarding to studying the report.
While he didn’t respond to the report’s specific recommendations he said “we know that we face challenges in staffing, that is an issue facing every education system … all around the country.”
Mr Scott told AAP teachers have received pay rises in excess of inflation over recent years and that any increases would be negotiated appropriately at the time of award renegotiations.
“We know to have a great education system we need well qualified highly professional teachers, who feel well supported by the system,” Mr Scott said.