Justine Ferrari, Education writer | February 05, 2008
PUBLIC schools in NSW will be free to hire their own teachers under changes announced yesterday, but the union has threatened to fight the move.
Education Minister John Della Bosca said all government schools would have the option of advertising openly to fill vacancies.
Schools would still have the choice of asking the Education Department to appoint a teacher, as occurs in the current system. But from the second term in 2010, principals will no longer be obliged to accept the teacher at the top of the department’s transfer list.
Selection panels for the vacancies will comprise the principal, a teacher nominated by staff and representatives from the wider school community, such as the PC.
Research fellow with the Centre for Independent Studies Jennifer Buckingham said the changes brought NSW in line with South Australia and Western Australia, and closer to the fully autonomous system in Victoria, where principals have the power to hire and fire and run their own budget.
But the NSW Teachers Federation signalled industrial action to fight the move, which it said would abolish the supply line of teachers into disadvantaged areas and was the first step in dismantling centralised control over schools.
In a briefing on the changes sent to teachers yesterday, the director-general of the Education Department, Michael Coutts-Trotter, also said incentives to attract staff to rural schools would be reviewed and additional incentives developed to encourage staff to move to where they were most needed.
He said schools had no say in about 90 per cent of classroom teacher appointments. “Only three in every 100 classroom teaching positions are open to all qualified teachers,” he said.
The system of priority placements would remain to cater for teachers wanting to move out of so-called hardship postings.
But senior vice-president of the NSW Teachers Federation Gary Zadkovich said schools did not compete on an equal footing in their ability to hire staff.
“We don’t have a level playing field when it comes to schools and their ability to recruit and retain teachers and we’re now looking at the effective dismantling of the statewide transfer system,” he said.
“That system provides security of employment … and also ensures teachers are supplied to schools in western Sydney and country areas where teachers are less likely to want to work.”
Mr Zadkovich said it was highly likely a range of political and industrial action would be taken against the measure.
A spokesman for Mr Della Bosca said the system was already being used in regional NSW and southwest Sydney and had attracted a good response to job ads, with as many as 30 applicants for one job in some cases.
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