Victoria has launched a suite of incentives to keep the state’s best teachers in some of its toughest schools, including up to $50,000 to draw educators to “hard-to-staff” positions and schools.
It follows a similar cash lure of up to $50,000 announced in September for teachers who would be willing to relocate to rural and regional schools.
As with the rural plan, teachers who remained in the tough schools would be offered an initial payment of up to $50,000, then up to $9,000 per year for three years for staying in the job.
The package, announced by State Education Minister James Merlino, was billed as “the biggest investment in our education workforce in this state’s history”.
“Great teachers change lives … and that’s why we’re working so hard to attract the best people to teaching and supporting them to stay in our classrooms,” Mr Merlino said.
The state has been facing a shortage of teachers, with the population of school-aged students booming at a rate not matched by educators joining the workforce.
A recent Grattan Institute report found Australia’s young high achievers were turning their backs on teaching, suggesting they were instead drawn to professions with better pay and more challenges.
The Government said the plan would allocate $41.7 million to provide up to $50,000 for teachers who worked in hard-to-staff schools.
Mr Merlino said schools in that category were those where teaching positions remained unfilled due to a variety of reasons, including geographical barriers or specialty subjects.
Problems with workload remain, union warns
The $244.6 million package included $31.5 million to encourage top teachers to take on specialised roles, which would see the creation of 40 “executive principal” roles and nine “turnaround teams” to boost school performance.
It allocated a further $25.2 million to have “learning specialists” in every state school, $68.4 million to extended “professional learning communities” to all government schools and $5.6 million for employment-based pathways into teaching.
The news was welcomed by the Australian Education Union (AEU) Victoria, but branch president Meredith Peace cautioned there was still the “fundamental issue” of teachers feeling overworked.
“One of the critical reasons we hear from our members about why people won’t apply for principal jobs, why people won’t come into the teaching profession, is workload,” she said.
“We have an underlying problem of massive workload for teachers, principals and support staff and we need to see Government in the future invest further in reducing the workload of staff in our schools to ensure we’re able to deliver the best quality education to our young people.”
Ms Peace said the fact that teachers already working in the hard-to-fill schools would not be eligible for the $50,000 cash injection would be “challenging”.
“Because there is a chance that will create some concerns,” she said.
“But it is important that we staff our schools appropriately, and we do know that have shortages already … so it is important that the Government does find ways to attract people both into the profession, but to attract people into those schools which are harder to staff.”