7 February 2024

Griffith school with worst staff shortage in NSW to advertise for principal for a third time

| Oliver Jacques
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teachers protesting outside school

Griffith teachers have been calling for action on staff shortages for years. This photo is from a protest in 2020. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Murrumbidgee Regional High School (MRHS) had the worst staff shortage of any school in NSW at the end of 2023 and will need to advertise for a third time to recruit a new principal to its Griffith site.

The so-called ”super school”, which was a merger of the only two high schools in town in 2018 – Griffith High and Wade High – is being de-merged this year.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the school ranked No. 1 in the state in terms of staff shortages, with at least 40 empty teaching roles in 2023, including in English, maths, history, commerce, PDHPE and science, and 18 full-time vacancies in term four alone.

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Teachers Federation representative Bert Bertalli said this highlighted the need for the NSW Government to urgently offer more incentives to attract teachers to Griffith.

“Griffith is surrounded by schools offering incentives, in every direction – north, south, east and west – where teachers can get paid more money for doing the same job,” he said.

“We have teachers living in Griffith but working in Leeton and Darlington Point, where they can earn more. Griffith schools are now the most difficult to staff in all of NSW because they don’t offer incentives.

“MRHS can’t even get a permanent principal for its Griffith site yet, even though the position had been advertised twice.

“That tells you how bad things are at Griffith, they can’t even fill a vacancy for the highest-paid educator, the principal.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the principal position was expected to be re-advertised on 7 February.

Duncan Lovelock is acting principal of the Griffith site while the search for a permanent head continues, while former Hay War Memorial High School leader Yvan Chambers was appointed permanent principal of the Wade site.

The department spokesperson also said the staff shortage in Griffith was easing.

“At the end of 2023, Murrumbidgee Regional High School had 17 permanent vacancies, which has now been reduced to 10 across the two new schools,” she said.

“The department is reviewing incentives to attract more teachers to the region, and the Priority Recruitment Support scheme is still in place.”

Prue Car outside MRHS

Education Minister Prue Car has been called on to increase incentives for Griffith teaching roles. Photo: Supplied.

Under the department’s priority schemes, teachers are receiving more pay and superior benefits for taking up employment in schools considered to be in rural and remote locations that are difficult to staff.

“Griffith is an anomaly. They’re not given the same level of incentives as schools nearby in towns like Leeton and Darlington Point,” Mr Bertalli said.

“That’s why they’ve had teacher shortages for more than a decade.”

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Mr Bertalli said NSW Education Minister Prue Car was not practising what she preached when it came to rural education equality.

“Minister Car recently told The Daily Telegraph that she will ensure every child, regardless of their postcode, will get an opportunity for a first-class education,” he said.

“What’s the postcode of Griffith? We’re not getting a first-class education here. We can’t get the sort of education kids get on the east coast, because we are short of PE teachers, science teachers, maths teachers and history teachers.

“The Minister can’t keep talking about postcode equality when her government hasn’t even implemented recommendation 1.1 of a report released three years ago, which was to reclassify all the point transfers for schools.”

The NSW Teachers Federation has long pushed for MRHS to be classified as what’s called a ”four-point transfer school”, in line with nearby Darlington Point and Leeton – which would improve pay and prioritise teachers for placements in other schools.

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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