Teachers and students at schools across regional NSW will benefit from a complete overhaul of how the government attracts and retains teachers in the bush.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government commissioned the Review of Rural and Remote Incentives in NSW Public Schools, which focused on improving the benefits for regional teachers by ensuring they are fair and flexible.
“We are already investing record amounts in school infrastructure and technology in regional parts of the State, so it’s time our incentives program is upgraded to attract top quality teachers to the bush,” Barilaro said.
“At the heart of these investments are our regional kids who deserve the best teachers and best education no matter where they live.”
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said she commissioned the review in response to conversations and feedback from teachers working in regional, rural and remote areas.
“The government is accepting all recommendations put forward by the review, and we will immediately begin implementing reforms to attract and retain teachers in regional NSW,” Mitchell said.
“We have the most generous incentive system in Australia, however over time it has grown in complexity. This is the first time we have inspected all aspects of the system to make it fair and flexible, allowing teachers to create a package that works best for them and their circumstances.”
The NSW Government has committed $15 million to action initiatives immediately in response to the incentives review, including: Increasing the value of targeted recruitment bonuses from $10,000 to up to $20,000, making schools located in the hardest-to-staff parts of the State more attractive for prospective employees; Giving more employees the opportunity to experience regional NSW by doubling the number of teachers Rural scholarships to 120 per year, and expanding the investment in the Rural Experience Program to fund up to 50 places from 2022.
In addition, the funding will expand eligibility so temporary teachers can receive incentives like the Rural Teacher Incentive, Retention Bonus, and Experienced Teacher Bonus, enabling a greater number of employees to be attracted to the regions; and, will work alongside the Teacher Housing Authority NSW to upgrade, repair and build new accommodation for teachers in areas of high demand.
Principals, teachers, key education stakeholders and experts will be consulted with and help co-design longer-term initiatives, including:
- The revamping and simplification of the transfer point system to reduce inequity, better communication on what is available for teachers in the regions, and allowing employees to work on a bespoke package which suits their individual circumstances;
- The creation of a more holistic approach to regional relocation which focuses on ‘families’ rather than just individuals; and,
- The establishment of a centralised team to oversee regional staffing.
“Regional NSW is an incredibly attractive place to live and work. I want to see more people experience teaching in Regional NSW and I want to remove barriers for anyone wanting a teaching career in the bush,” Mitchell added.
The review recommendations support the initiatives included in the Teacher Supply Strategy due for release later this year.