Jobs, offices go in Illawarra schools shake-up

Illawarra schools will be absorbed into a super-region and more than 350 high-level school support jobs will be axed statewide under a NSW Department of Education restructure plan.

A draft proposal, sent to department offices on Tuesday and obtained by the Mercury, outlines plans to create five new groups from the existing 10 regions, and shut 15 of the 54 department offices across the state.

The move is part of a government plan to cut 600 public school jobs and save $1.7 billion in education spending.

MAP: Proposed education super region

The existing Illawarra and South East region of about 230 schools would almost double in size to be called "group four", extending from Helensburgh to Eden along the coast, and west to Deniliquin, Griffith and Albury.

Education services staff, including curriculum-support, arts, and sport co-ordinators, and disability support positions in the new region, would be responsible for 423 schools.

However, more than 65 positions in this region, including half the positions at Wollongong's main regional offices in Warilla, and 31 jobs in the Riverina, would be cut under the plan.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser for the Illawarra Nicole Calnan said while it wasn't clear which positions would be cut at this stage, the planned restructure would likely put literacy, equity and other support programs at risk.

"These jobs are held by teachers in consultancy roles - [they are] people with expertise and skills in technology, curriculum, Aboriginal education, equity, and working with low socio-economic areas," she said.

"They deliver training and development to teachers and they work with teachers to facilitate programs like reading recovery. There will be fewer of these teachers and they will have to cover a geographic area of nearly half the state."

Despite documents showing the creation of five larger regional groups, a department spokesman said the new model was not based on bigger regions.

The plan is aligned with the controversial Local Schools, Local Decisions education reforms, which give individual principals more responsibility over their budgets and staff.

"[The model of support to schools] is about schools, their students and their communities being the focus of public education in NSW in the future," the spokesman said.

"In the future the decision-making and the majority of resources will be in schools. Schools will decide how best to meet the needs of their students."

The proposal will now be subject to two weeks of internal consultation before it is amended and put back out for another two weeks of staff feedback. A final plan is expected by December 21.

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