'Desperate' cash splash for teachers in needy schools

Teachers will be paid nearly $30,000 to move to understaffed classrooms as NSW desperately tries to fill long-standing vacancies amid calls for more public-school funding.

More than 2000 miniature schoolhouses were placed not far from the state parliament on Thursday as part of a national push for the Commonwealth to provide more money for underfunded schools.

The Australian Education Union said the display represented the "alarming" 2154 public schools in the state that were receiving less than their needs-based funding requirements.

Australian Education Union members protest in Sydney.

It came as a NSW recruitment program to fill persistent vacancies was expanded with 37 extra schools in various parts of the state, including 11 in west and southwest Sydney.

Recruits will be paid up to $8000 to relocate, while schools with long-standing vacancies can advertise recruitment bonuses of up to $20,000.

The program has been expanded since incentives and support were first offered in February 2023 to teachers who relocated to the regions.

After the changes, more than 100 state schools will receive intensive support for teacher recruitment.

The incentives were getting teachers into classrooms where they were needed most, NSW Education Minister Prue Car said.

NSW Education Minister Prue Car
Prue Car says having a qualified teacher in front of every class is key to lifting student outcomes.

“Having a qualified teacher in front of every class is key to lifting student outcomes and we are working hard to attract and retain teachers in areas where the teacher shortage is most acute," she said.

NSW Teachers Federation president Henry Rajendra called on the federal government to boost its share of public school funding in light of the desperate need to fill teacher vacancies.

Sign-on bonuses and other supports might not be enough to compete with private schools offering smaller class sizes and better working conditions, he said.

"These schools have been suffering under the understaffing that they've lived with for far too long ... this is a desperate measure, at a time when the Albanese government has, to date, not provided the funding that our system needs."

Opposition education spokeswoman Sarah Mitchell told AAP the recruitment program began under the former coalition government, but it was good to see Labor expand it and recognise it was a good initiative.

NSW Teachers Federation President Henry Rajendra (centre left)
Henry Rajendra (centre left) says underfunding underlies the chronic situation in public schools.

"This government was elected saying the teacher pay increase would be the solution to vacancies, we are seeing that is not the case," she said.

Australian Education Union national president Correna Haythorpe said public schools lost out in Tuesday's federal budget.

"We have an astonishing situation in Australia in terms of inequality between the public and private sector," she said.

"It's our schools that educate the vast majority of students ... that are denied the funding that they need."

NSW has been pushing for the Commonwealth's share of public school funding to be lifted to 25 per cent, from 20 per cent of the required level to meet students' needs.

States pay the remaining 80 per cent but NSW and most other jurisdictions are falling well short of meeting that target, leaving public schools short-changed by billions of dollars a year.

Negotiations are continuing over a federal-state school-funding deal.

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