Another Pinocchio announcement

Another day, another reannouncement from the Perrottet Government – this time, a primary and high school, originally promised back in 2018. And while the Perrottet Government rehashes education announcements, last month’s interim report of the Inquiry into Teacher Shortages in New South Wales revealed the serious and real world impacts of the teacher shortages facing schools. Yet Education Minister Sarah Mitchell and her Government would have you believe that the problem could be curtailed by simply lowering the standard of postgraduate teaching degrees.

9 December 2022



WHEN you try and fudge the figures of the teacher crisis in NSW you’re bound to end up with a Pinocchio nose, particularly when you now claim that by reducing the training time for postgraduate teachers back to one-year would help increase the supply of highly qualified teachers.


Let’s not forget that it was two years ago Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the teacher shortages in NSW were so bad they were keeping her awake at night. If that was her response then, she must hardly be sleeping a wink right now. But who really knows – it seems that a ‘bird in the bush is not quite the same as two on the nose’.


Acute shortages of teachers are having a devastating impact on children across NSW. Almost 2,400 permanent teaching positions were vacant in public schools in February and casual teachers have become impossible to find. As a result, secondary students are missing classroom teaching, stuck in the playground or library with only minimal supervision. Primary teachers report having 40 children in their class for 10 days in a row or standing in corridors trying to teach multiple classes at once.


Yet Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, as reported by the Grapevine last month, claimed reports of thousands of teacher shortages were “not true”, but the Minister conveniently forgot her own data, which shows exactly that.


In 2021 Education Minister Sarah Mitchell claimed teacher shortages were a “beat-up”, despite being forewarned about increasing teacher shortages. So, what was keeping her awake two years ago?


But it gets even worse, the Perrottet Government’s schools’ reannouncement this week portrays nothing less than a worried government desperate to win votes. And the promised primary school and high school in Westmead joins a long list of schools the Liberals promised four years ago but failed to deliver, including a new high school in Edmondson Park, a new primary school in Gregory Hills, and K-12 schools for Macquarie Park and Rydalmere.


And if you think we are faring any better on the Central Coast, we’re not! Education in our region has fallen into the same Liberal blackhole.


Sharryn Brownlee, President of the Central Coast Council of P&C Associations (CCC P&C), said "The CCC P&C are very concerned about the teacher shortages that are causing students to miss out on the subjects they want to take as electives as there are no teachers to take the classes.


"Several of the large comprehensive schools are now unable to meet the students needs for electives such as Music, Art, Agriculture due to the teacher shortages.


"Mainstream English and Mathematics compulsory classes are also now being impacted, with many students now being taught by staff not trained in the subject area, such as a Geography teacher teaching Maths and a PE teacher teaching English. Students are very worried as are their parents.


"The Central Coast is a beautiful place to live and work and usually a much sort after posting but over the last few years applicant numbers have dropped sharply and students are being disadvantaged."


The latest NSW budget shows that the Perrottet Government has also under-delivered on 113 school infrastructure projects – spending $1.26 billion less than was promised in the 2021-22 budget on schools.


And this week’s Perrottet Government policy-reheat comes a day after it re-announced syllabus changes for the 20th time in four years and a week after it was revealed that the teacher shortage has tripled over the past 12 years under the Liberals and Nationals, while a multimillion dollar overseas teacher recruitment strategy only yielded three new teachers.


What is pathetically sad for both primary and secondary students is that, despite twelve years of promises that were never delivered, they are the victims facing the chronic teacher shortage.


NSW Shadow Minister for Education, Prue Car said, “Parents and families have planned their lives around the Liberals’ promised schools, but they have been left high and dry.


“This is a clear sign that the Perrottet Government has run out of ideas, and that their best days are behind them.


“Not only are the Liberals failing to build the schools needed, they’re failing to recruit the teachers we need to staff them.”


Schools full of demountables with students packed into the school like sardines in a tin is not the answer; on top of this there are not enough teachers.


The government was warned time and time again about the chronic teacher shortage, and they chose to actually do nothing about it. As a result, one in five students is being taught maths by a teacher that's not qualified in the maths training.


"There is simply not enough teachers ready to be able to deliver in the classrooms," Prue Car said.


“We need change in New South Wales, if we are to address the chronic teacher shortage and the rapidly declining education outcomes for our children and their futures.”

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