NSW’s top teachers could be offered better paid roles as part of a plan to reward the most accomplished and stem the brain drain, but the plan has been criticized for pitting teachers against each other.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said creating a stronger career path for classroom teachers that better rewards the best is key to modernizing the education system and attracting more people to the profession .
“It’s about finding new ways to work with the profession to recognize excellence,” Ms Mitchell told reporters on Thursday.
Under the plan led by Professor Hattie of the University of Melbourne, key stakeholders and teachers will work together to develop a new compensation model.
Ms Mitchell hopes the strategy will ‘bring a level of prestige to the teaching profession that our teachers so deserve’.
“What I hear all too often is that they feel like they’ve hit a certain ceiling when it comes to salary,” she said.
NSW teachers start with a salary of $73,737, which rises to a maximum of $117,060 if they achieve accreditation as a “highly accomplished” or principal teacher, while assistant principals receive $126,528 $.
Ms Mitchell said many teachers felt that in order to make financial progress, they needed to hold administrative positions in the department or become principals.
“We also need to find opportunities for people to stay in class and do what they love and be rewarded for their excellence,” she said.
She would like to see the existing certification of highly accomplished and head teachers increased tenfold, but insisted it would not be about introducing performance pay.
But the independent education union NSW/ACT, representing teachers in Catholic schools, blasted the plan for not “addressing the fundamental shortage of teachers which is impacting education”.
“This proposal is the demystified idea of pay-for-performance,” the union said.
“It will simply pit teachers against each other for a small pool of better paid roles without doing anything to address the inadequate teacher salaries that are at the heart of the problem.”
Labor MP Courtney Houssos, a member of the parliamentary inquiry into teacher shortages, said the plan did not go far enough to keep the profession afloat.
“The government has tried roundtables, they’ve tried scholarships, they’ve tried overseas recruitment campaigns, and none of them have addressed the chronic teacher shortage facing our schools in NSW,” she told reporters.
“We need a comprehensive plan to manage teacher workload to ensure teachers continue to teach in the classroom.”
Six in 10 teachers planned to leave the profession in the next five years, according to a survey commissioned by the survey.
NSW teachers’ unions have been at odds with the Perrottet government for months over salaries and staff shortages which they say have resulted in an unmanageable workload.
State school teachers have walked off the job three times this year, and NSW Teachers Federation president Angelos Gavrielatos said the crisis is jeopardizing the state’s education future with some 3,800 teachers needed from here 2027.
Unions want a pay rise of 5-7%, while the NSW government has offered 3%.
Professor Hattie is expected to give his advice later this year before the government works to implement the changes.
The announcement comes a day before the country’s education ministers are due to meet to discuss the continuing problem of chronic teacher shortages.