The NSW government has accepted all the recommendations into a review of rural and remote incentives for state public schools, which will increase targeted recruitment bonuses to $20,000 and doubling the number of teach rural scholarships to 120 places.
In a joint statement with NSW deputy premier John Barilaro, education and early childhood learning minister Sarah Mitchell said that steps to implement the recommended reforms to attract and retain teachers would start immediately.
“Regional NSW is an incredibly attractive place to live and work. I want to see more people experience teaching in Regional NSW and I want to remove barriers for anyone wanting a teaching career in the bush,” Mitchell said.
According to the education minister, NSW has the ‘most generous incentive system’ in the country but it has over time become complex.
“This is the first time we have inspected all aspects of the system to make it fair and flexible, allowing teachers to create a package that works best for them and their circumstances,” Mitchell said of the review’s recommendations that will underpin the initiatives of a teacher supply strategy to be released later in the year.
“We will create a smarter transfer point system and an easier-to-understand benefits package for teachers, ranging from additional salary, better professional development opportunities, rent assistance and family support,” she said.
As part of the announcement, the NSW government will be investing more in the expansion of a rural experience program to fund up to 50 teaching places in regional and remote NSW from next year, as well as expand rural teaching incentives to temporary teachers too.
A new centralised team will also be established by the government to oversee regional staffing, and the government has committed to working with the Teacher Housing Authority to improve accommodation options in areas where teaching staff are in high demand.
The policy design of the revamped incentives program will be co-designed with key education stakeholders and experts, Mitchell added, and aim to develop a more holistic approach to regional relocation that considers teachers’ families — not just the teachers alone.
Barilaro said that with record investment in regional school infrastructure and technology, the next step was to ‘overhaul’ the manner in which top teachers were attracted and retained in the bush.
“At the heart of these investments are our regional kids who deserve the best teachers and best education no matter where they live,” he said.