Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Education Minister responds to strikes

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NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has accused staff at Deniliquin and district schools, and more than 70 others, of attempting to ‘‘mislead the community with inaccurate employment figures’’.

‘‘I find it concerning that the (NSW Teachers) Federation is encouragin­g its members to walk off the job during a pandemic,’’ she said in response to a request for comment about recent strike action from the PASTORAL TIMES.

Deniliquin High School, Deniliquin South Public School and Edward Public School staff last week walked off the job in protest at poor working conditions and a deficit of casual staff.

The walkouts lasted 10 minutes, to ensure student supervisio­n and learning outcomes were not impacted.

At each of the meetings, participat­ing teachers signed a letter asking the minister to:

● Award rise;

teachers a

10-15 per

cent pay

● Award teachers an additional two hours relief from face-to-face (RFF) teaching;

● Increase staffing entitlemen­ts to facilitate inbuilt relief; and

● Increase incentive transfer points (which incentivis­e teachers working in rural and regional areas) from four to six points per year.

In her response to the PASTORAL TIMES ,Ms Mitchell said ‘‘the current vacancy rate of teaching positions represents less than two per cent of the overall workforce’’.

She went on to highlight that the figure is ‘‘lower than last year’’.

Deniliquin High School alone has been advertisin­g for five vacant full-time teaching positions since the beginning of 2021.

The vacancy rates for permanent teachers in NSW currently stands at 1.5 per cent, however, this represents more than 660 — or 30 per cent — of schools and 1148 vacant positions, many of which are in regional NSW.

The Teachers Federation says state parliament documents indicate there were 568 vacancies in 2012, and that number tripled in 2019. It said that has only now begun to decline.

‘‘It is disappoint­ing that the minister doesn’t share the very real concerns of teachers and parents about the impact of growing teacher shortages on the education of students across NSW,’’ said federation deputy president Henry Rajendra.

‘‘Only last year the minister said there were ‘issues with teacher shortages across the state’, and the problem was so bad it was keeping her up at night.’’

 ??  ?? ■ Teachers at Edward Public School partaking in the strike last week.
■ Teachers at Edward Public School partaking in the strike last week.

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