Members will be aware that the current enterprise agreements covering principals, teachers and support staff in Catholic systemic schools expire at the end of 2021. This is in line with the state award applying to teachers in NSW government schools that also expires at the end of 2021.
A professional pay rise
Research by Professor John Buchanan of the University of Sydney Business School shows teachers' wages have not matched pay increases for other professionals. He found that in 1986, female teachers earned 102 per cent of the female professional average, and their male counterparts earned 99 percent of the men’s average. This fell to 93 percent (women) and 84 percent (men) in 2018. A 10-15 percent increase would “restore the historical relativity” according to Professor Buchanan.
There is also a problem in that the pay structure for teachers is compressed and, at the top end, experienced teachers are paid less than experienced lawyers, engineers and information and communications technology professionals.
The NSW Teachers Federation has used Professor Buchanan’s research to support their pay claim for increases of 10% to 15% over two years.
Significant pay increases would also help address the issue of teacher shortages, which the federal and state governments acknowledge (see, for example, the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review Discussion Paper, released by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Learning (AITSL), and briefing papers prepared for NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell (reported in the Sydney Morning Herald).
An IEU survey conducted in February and March this year of 377 Catholic systemic schools found shortages were already evident throughout NSW. On average, about 44 percent of secondary schools had a temporary or permanent teacher vacancy, while 23 percent of primary schools were in the same position. Some reported they were unable to fill up to 70 percent of casual vacancies, while some regions, such as Armidale, were experiencing even more severe shortages.
More effective strategies are needed to deal with teacher shortages in both metro and regional areas. Policies giving greater job security to casual teachers should also be implemented.