Drastic casual teacher drought causing chaos
Catholic systemic schools in non-metro dioceses are facing grim casual teacher shortages.
In the Canberra-Goulburn diocese alone, 23 percent of primary schools and 33 percent of
secondary schools are reporting temporary or permanent teacher vacancies, results of an IEU
survey of 40 schools reveal.
Similar results are emerging in Catholic systemic schools throughout NSW. On average, about
30 percent of secondary schools have a temporary or permanent teacher vacancy, while
20 percent of primary schools are in the same position. Some regions, such as Armidale,
are experiencing even more severe shortages.
On top of this, 82 per cent of Canberra-Goulburn schools found they couldn’t fill a casual
vacancy on one or more days during the survey period; and 66 percent were unable to fill three
or more days in their two-week timetable cycle.
Schools have been managing these shortages by:
• combining classes, resulting in large class sizes and heightening safety concerns around
staff-student ratios and adequate supervision
• foregoing teachers’ scheduled lesson planning time
• asking part-time teachers to reschedule non-work days
• asking support staff to supervise classes.
Principals and Assistant Principals are also pitching in to supervise classes, leaving gaps in
school leadership functions. Similarly, the valuable work of learning support staff and teacher
librarians is being neglected when these professionals are required to supervise classes.
Schools are also cancelling teachers’ professional development so they can cover classes. This
will have consequences not only for teachers in meeting their accreditation requirements, it will
also delay implementation of the NSW Government’s curriculum reforms should it continue.
There are obvious and serious implications for learning outcomes while these shortages
continue – large classes and constant teacher churn do not serve students well.
While these findings uncover the impact on students, the IEU is deeply concerned about the
erosion of teachers’ working conditions due to this shortage of casual teachers.