Minister caned over teacher transfers

NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca has vowed to keep the existing centralised staffing system that helps place teachers in remote areas.

His announcement comes after the NSW Teachers' Federation was in uproar over a controversial new system which would remove incentives for teachers to transfer to remote or hardship postings.

But the announcement hasn't put a smile on the face of Nicole Major, North Coast organiser for the NSW Teachers' Federation, who said it was not enough.

"This is just policy. It's not an industrial agreement set in stone," she said.

"What the Minister is talking about is only a priority transfer system. We will not be happy until we see an industrial agreement to guarantee a transfer system with incentives."

Ms Major said there were 200 to 300 hard-to-staff schools in the state and without a guaranteed transfer system to reward teachers for working hardship postings, "we are simply not going to able to staff these schools".

Teachers have already voted to strike over the change, which comes into effect on Monday and gives principals greater control in choosing teachers.

However, Mr Della Bosca said the changes would improve the system significantly.

"If a teacher wishes to transfer from a remote school, they will continue to have priority," he said.

"The reforms we are undertaking are modest, but they will provide significant improvements in employment opportunities for permanent, casual, temporary and graduate teachers by allowing them to have greater say in where they pursue their careers.

"These improvements will also provide greater opportunities for school communities to have a say in who teaches their children by allowing more principals to advertise a permanent position when it becomes available.

"The Department of Education will continue to ensure every class has a qualified teacher."

But the teachers' union believes teachers will not benefit from the changes, as claimed by the Minister.

Ms Major said that the transfer systems for graduates, non-permanent teachers and indigenous employment 'would not exist' under the new system, which would be a disadvantage to many teachers.

"Graduates, for example, will now have to compete against teachers who have been in the industry for 10 years, as they will just have to apply for positions like anyone else," she said.

"How does that benefit or help them?"

Mr Della Bosca denied the changes would lead to staff shortages, saying the 21,000 teachers looking for a full-time job would now have more opportunities to apply for positions in all parts of the state.

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