A casual crisis

Amid growing concerns at teacher shortages in regional and remote NSW, the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch is conducting a comprehensive survey of teacher and support staff vacancies in Catholic systemic schools.

An immediate and strong response from member principals and IEU reps indicate the issues are widespread and alarming.

Early survey data shows 24 percent of primary schools have existing vacancies for part time and permanent teaching staff. This rises to 33 percent for secondary schools and a startling 54 percent for K-12 schools.

Casual staff shortages appear to be at crisis levels, with 75 percent of schools reporting they were unable to fill at least one vacancy in the last 10 days and 15 percent of schools indicating they couldn’t fill casual vacancies on five days or more during the previous two weeks.

More than 40 percent of respondents indicated teachers were missing scheduled #RFF (relief from face-to-face teaching) or #PPT (professional planning time) in order to cover absent staff while 25 percent said part time staff were asked to swap their scheduled day off to come in and take classes.

“Members are also losing their industrial entitlements as a result of these shortages” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

Other measures being asked of teachers include combining classes, non-teaching executive staff covering classes, and support staff undertaking supervision duties.

“These are stop-gap measures at best” said Northam. “They compromise the teaching and learning environment of the schools and the industrial conditions of the members. We need a better solution, and that starts with paying teachers and support staff what they are worth.”

The survey will be rolled out in Metropolitan dioceses in the following weeks.

Patrick Devery