I seek to respond to the NSW Education Department’s letter to the editor in last week’s Courier regarding the teacher shortage at Narrabri High School.
I guess that it was too much to ask for a response from a government department that actually addressed the issue at hand.
Unfortunately all we got was statistics, spin, and an outright denial that the problem exists.
In addition, there was a reference to a series of teacher incentives, the vast majority of which don’t actually apply to Narrabri High School.
I am amazed that the Education Department would respond to such a serious matter with such a dismissive, benign, almost vanilla response that reads like a generic press release written by a work experience student.
There was no name attached and I note that I don’t get to withhold my name or hide behind a department.
First and foremost – I am a parent. Right now, my children and all who attend Narrabri High School are being affected by the teacher shortage.
They are experiencing minimal supervision lessons on a consistent basis despite the bare faced denials from the Education Department that there is a teacher shortage.
I am effectively being called a liar for stating what I know to be true.
Over the past three weeks I have been contacted by many people from within the community as well as from all over the state voicing their support and their shared experiences in other towns.
Why would I bother making this up and risk public ridicule?
The letter listed a series of incentives that are available to teachers in NSW. I requested confirmation from the NSW Teachers Federation as to whether these particular incentives apply to Narrabri High School. Their responses are listed after each item:
· A rural teacher incentive of up to $30,000. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· Up to 90 per cent rental subsidy. No rental subsidy applies for teachers at Narrabri High School.
· Locality and cost of living
allowances. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· An annual ‘retention benefit’ of $5000 for up to 10 years. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· An annual ‘experienced teacher’ bonus of $10,000 for up to five years · Recruitment bonus of $10,000 (if applicable). This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· A 10-week trial placement before permanent appointment. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· Up to four additional professional development days and five additional personal leave days. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· Sponsorship for professional development. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
· Scholarships. There is no specific scholarship that applies to Narrabri High School that I am aware of.
· Priority transfer after two to five years. This does not apply to Narrabri High School.
So as part of their response to a claim of a teacher shortage at Narrabri High School, the NSW Education Department has listed ten teacher incentives – none of which actually apply to Narrabri High School! How disingenuous!
At what point does this constitute a crisis?
At what point does the NSW Education Department become embarrassed enough to act?
I have no idea why there are not enough teachers at Narrabri High and as a parent it is not my job to fix the problem.
I suspect that it is an awful combination of political spin, lazy policy, poorly allocated incentives, and long term neglect in planning.
What I know for sure is that it’s not my fault, nor any of the kids who are affected.
But the reality is – I just don’t care what the reasons are and who is to blame for it all. I just want it fixed. I want to be able to educate my kids locally and it is not unreasonable to expect there to be sufficient teachers to do so in a town like Narrabri.
Denis Harvey, NarrabriTo order photos from this page click here