Teacher shortages: Education union states case to Parliamentary Inquiry

Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch

Today the Independent Education Union appeared before the NSW Parliament’s Inquiry into Teacher Shortages. The IEU represents the industrial and professional interests of 33,000 teachers and support staff in non-government schools in NSW and the ACT.

“This was a great opportunity to advocate on behalf of members and explain to the Inquiry what it’s like working in schools right now,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“The teacher shortage has to be taken seriously. It’s about a better deal for teachers and support staff. It’s about the students and the future of education. It’s about more time for lesson planning, improved pay, and real strategies to address the teacher shortages.”

The Inquiry, chaired by One Nation’s Mark Latham and comprising members of the Labor opposition, the Greens, Liberals and Nationals, heard that COVID had not caused the current issues but it had exacerbated them.

“The IEU has been warning about impending staff shortages for many years due to a range of factors including an ageing workforce, mid-career teacher retention issues and dramatically decreasing enrolments in initial teacher education courses,” Northam said.

Data from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership reveals:

  • 28 per cent of teachers say they will leave the profession within four years
  • 32 per cent of teachers say they will leave the profession before retirement
  • 12 per cent of teachers are over 60 years; and 37 per cent are over 50.

The IEU has had two stop works in six weeks – thousands of teachers and support staff from Catholic schools throughout NSW and the ACT rallied and marched at numerous locations.

“This is unheard of,” Northam said. “School staff are on their knees and schools are in crisis. They’ve been running on goodwill for too long but that goodwill is rapidly running out.”

Last week the IEU wrote to Catholic employers urging them to meet with the union and continue negotiations for a new enterprise agreement that began in January. “Our door is open,” Northam said. “Let’s sit down and fix these issues together.”

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