Teachers at Murrumbidgee Regional High School staged a walk-out yesterday afternoon to highlight the urgency needed for action on the NSW teaching crisis.
Teachers across NSW have been rallying against unacceptable pay conditions, pressure and a lack of appreciation for several years but as a rapidly increasing deficit approaches, action has become more frequent.
Just eight days ago, Griffith North Public School held a similar walk-out as part of a campaign for a pay increase, an extra two hours relief to plan classes and further incentives to draw in more teachers.
The walk-outs are going for just a few minutes each, and are being organised by the NSW Teacher's Federation in an effort to convince the government that teaching needs to be made more appealing to draw in new staff.
My fear is that anything they do, it might be too late. We're already trying to find teachers just to cover classes.Anthony Catanzariti
Anthony Catanzariti is the Teacher's Federation representative for MRHS. He explained the urgency of the action.
"We're facing a teacher shortage and we've already been feeling it here for some years but now the concern is going statewide ... My fear is that anything they do, it might be too late. We're already trying to find teachers just to cover classes."
He explained that Murrumbidgee Regional High School was already on the back foot in attracting teachers, explaining the worrying number of uncovered classes the school contends with.
"If you go to Darlington Point Public School, you could make 40,000 more than if you come to Griffith. It's the same all around us, places like Rankins Springs, Hay or Goolgowi - it's not an extra $5000, it's an extra 30 or 40 thousand," Mr Catanzariti explained.
"That's what we want the Department of Education to take a look at."
The disparity is caused by Griffith not being classed as eligible for regional and rural teaching incentives such as rental subsidies, while being surrounded by schools eligible for those same benefits.
Mr Catanzariti continued, explaining that while the teachers were working hard to ensure that Griffith schools remained 'fantastic places to learn', they were feeling the pressures of calling for support and hearing little in return.
"Why doesn't the government care? This shouldn't be our job to draw attention to this, but nobody else is. Teachers have to do it on behalf of the community, but it shouldn't be our place because we can't do anything about it ... If they would come, we could show them the amount of teachers we need but they're not interested."
He finished by looking towards the future, but added that there were talks of larger scale industrial action in the future.
"If the department decides to do nothing, the shortage that is already happening will just get worse. We're already leading the state by uncovered classes by quite a margin, that margin will just grow."
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