Casual primary school teacher and part-time farmer Matt Corbett, of Federal, enjoys the flexibility of his two jobs.
Casual primary school teacher and part-time farmer Matt Corbett, of Federal, enjoys the flexibility of his two jobs. Jay Cronan

Country teachers fall short

ARE THERE enough teachers in the Northern Rivers to teach our kids?

If you live on the coast, it is likely there are more than enough teachers.

Yet further inland, schools struggle with teaching staff recruitment, according to NSW Teachers Federation North Coast organiser Nicole Major.

A national survey conducted by the Australian Education Union found that 60 per cent of schools had trouble finding enough teachers.

Matt Corbett has been casual teaching in the Northern Rivers area for three months after a mid-life career change.

The 38-year-old primary school teacher lives with his family on a farm at Federal and doesn’t want to move to an area deficient in teachers.

“I’m fully aware that every teacher in NSW would love to teach here and it may be unrealistic to try and get a full-time job teaching in the Northern Rivers,” he said.

Mr Corbett has had a varied career that included being a research scientist, sailor and stone mason but he doesn’t want to move his family for a full-time teaching job.

“When we graduated, they asked us where we were prepared to go and because I had roots here I wanted to stay here, I’ll work casual until I find something full-time,” he said.

Mr Corbett earns $280 a day for casual teaching but he would like to have his own class rather than teach in ‘bits and pieces’. He taught a three-week block at Bangalow Public School and loved it.

Ms Major agreed that teachers like to stay in the Northern Rivers.

“Local people don’t move away from the North Coast, getting permanent work here is difficult,” she said.

In the survey of 1473 school principals, 59pc reported problems with the supply of teachers, President of the Australian Education Union Angelo Gavrielatos said.

“Australian teachers spend more hours in the classroom than those in almost any other major nation and yet they are paid below-average wages,” he said.

Despite this, Mr Corbett is happy with his career choice.

“My parents are teachers and I wanted to work in something just so I came to teaching,” he said.





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