Education minister caught telling fibs

on teacher shortages

This week’s interim report of the Inquiry into Teacher Shortages in New South Wales reveals the serious and real world impacts of the teacher shortages facing schools. Yet at the same time the  Parliamentary report was released, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell was caught out fudging the figures on NSW teacher shortages.

11 November 2022


EDUCATION Minister Sarah Mitchell claimed reports of thousands of teacher shortages were “not true”, but the Minister conveniently forgot her own data which shows exactly that.


Data the Minister herself provided to the NSW Parliament only a week ago shows thousands of vacant teacher positions in NSW schools.




  • “For Labor to use these to claim that there is some kind of shortage of thousands and thousands of teachers is just not true. The data doesn’t stack up.” [ABC TV News, 8 November 2022]




  • “As at 10 October 2022 (start of Term 4, 2022) there were 2,458.70 FTE vacant teaching positions”


In 2021 Education Minister Sarah Mitchell previously claimed teacher shortages were a “beat-up”, despite being forewarned about increasing teacher shortages.


NSW Labor Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car said, “Dominic Perrottet’s Education Minister is out telling fibs about teacher shortages, instead of admitting her government’s failures and setting about fixing them.


“Ask any teacher, parent or student and they will tell you about the seriousness of the current teacher shortages.


“It seems there is no limit to the lengths this 12-year-old Liberal Nationals Government will go to, to try and cover up the teacher shortage crisis they have created.”


The overwhelming evidence to the inquiry concluded the teacher shortage had caused declining education outcomes; merged classes; minimal supervision and out-of-field teaching.


The report also found that casualisation of the teaching workforce as well as burdensome administration workload had led to burn out and attrition of the teaching workforce.


  • “In recent years, results against standardised tests including NAPLAN have stagnated and parents and teachers report the negative effects that merged classes, minimal supervision and out-of-field teaching have on students.” [p.12]


  • “The lack of available casual staff has meant that out-of-field teaching, merged classes and minimal supervision are an increasing phenomenon within NSW schools.” [p.9]


  • “The current lack of workforce planning coupled with a failure to recognise the underlying causes of the shortages will only intensify the crisis being felt across NSW schools.” [p.12]


These issues were reflected in a survey of 11,299 teachers issued as part of the inquiry, which found that:


  • 92% reported teacher shortages causing merged and cancelled classes;


  • 65% reported teacher shortages causing out-of-field teaching; and


  • 39% reported teacher shortages leading to unsupervised classes.


The NSW Government’s own figures reveal there has been a 30% reduction in people studying teaching in NSW.


The inquiry, which began in June 2022 has held four hearings, receiving evidence from teachers, parents and experts, and will resume in early 2023.


Chris Minns, NSW Labor Leader, said, “This report only confirms the very real world impacts that teachers, students and parents have known for too long.


“Merged and cancelled classes, declining education outcomes, and students left on their own.


“The rampant casualisation of the teaching workforce and the escalating administration workloads under the Liberals and Nationals is seeing our teachers burnt out and leaving in droves.”

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