Top schools lure teachers with $20,000 in prizes

“Part of the problem is a school’s location and the teacher who cannot afford to live there or commute there. If you can’t get staff for a school like Killarney Heights, what hope is there for schools in disadvantaged areas of western NSW and parts of south-west Sydney?” he said.


Mackellar Girls principal Christine del Gallo said her school is short of two PDHPE teachers and a shortage of casual teachers is making it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies at short notice.

“We’ve gotten to a point where we’re having trouble getting teachers on the northern beaches, and often it’s just too expensive for young teachers to live there,” she said.

Killarney Heights High, which is recruiting food and industrial technology teachers, is among 78 NSW public schools to receive “priority recruitment support” this year, including financial incentives for hard-to-fill vacancies. The school may offer a $20,000 recruitment bonus and another $10,000 relocation payment after two previous unsuccessful attempts to fill the position.

Last year the school, which is located on the north side of Middle Harbour, was the highest rated comprehensive school in HSC Advanced English.

NSW Education Secretary Sarah Mitchell said the priority recruitment scheme will be launched this year after a pilot scheme filled 80 per cent of vacancies in 50 selected schools in 2022.

“We’ve gotten to a point where we’re having trouble finding teachers on the northern beaches, and often it’s just too expensive for young teachers to live there.”

Christine del Gallo, director of the Mackellar Girls

“There are a number of reasons why some schools are struggling with staffing issues, and we know that Technological and Applied Studies (TAS) is a particularly challenging area,” she said. “Our teacher supply strategy is aimed at TAS and STEM teachers.”

Schools across NSW offering the $20,000 teacher bonus include Chifley College Mount Druitt, Dubbo College Delroy Campus and South Campus, Murrumbidgee Regional High, Moree Public, Tamworth High and Tamworth High.

At Chifley College, the school is offering a $20,000 sign-up bonus for a study and support teacher, while similar payments are being offered to math teachers at Tamworth and Broken Hill High.


Last year 38 vacancies in NSW schools were filled with an attached recruitment bonus.

The current vacancy rate in NSW public schools is around three per cent, with just over 2000 vacancies. “That’s incredibly small for a system of our size, and filling vacancies is the core business of the Department of Education,” Mitchell said.

Mark Grant, executive director of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, said there was a mismatch between demand and supply for teaching because universities could not get a clear indication of the number of teachers needed by discipline.

“In 2018, between 34 and 46 percent of design and technology teachers taught outside the field. There are very few universities that teach Technological and Applied Studies (TAS),” Grant said.

The subject includes areas such as agriculture, design and technology as well as wood and metalworking.

Angelo Gavrielatos, President of the NSW Teachers Federation, said the advertising of vacant teaching posts at a school in Manly with a recruitment bonus underscores the depth of the teacher shortage. “Teacher shortages are affecting student learning; and impact on their behavior and participation.”

With Nigel Gladstone

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Login here. Top schools lure teachers with $20,000 in prizes

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