Window of opportunity for region's young teachers

An ageing teaching population means 28-year-old Figtree Public School teacher Nicolee Johnston is in the minority.

A report released to Parliament this week by the NSW Auditor-General shows there is a lack of young teachers in schools and TAFE - and it's of particular concern in the Illawarra and South East region.

Almost 55 per cent of permanent teachers in the state are aged 45 years or older.

In the Illawarra and South East nearly 70 per cent are 45 plus.

And while just under 10 per cent of teachers in NSW are aged under 30, the figure is 6 per cent in this region.

However, Figtree Public School bucks the trend with four teachers aged under 30, and principal Paul Brightwell said it was great to have a mix of ages on the teaching staff.

"Our older teachers have a wealth of experience and our younger teachers bring new ideas and so much enthusiasm to the job," he said.

A year 1 teacher, Ms Johnston said teachers of all ages could learn from each other.

"I've learnt so much from the teachers who have been in the job for some time, but I've also been able to help them out by showing them how to utilise new technologies in the classroom," she said.

But the kids teach the young teacher the most.

"I'm teaching them, but the children teach me something new every day," she said.

"I count myself lucky that I've been able to get a job, as I still have friends from university who are yet to get a permanent position."

NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat said that more needed to be done to attract younger people into teaching.

"Last year I reported that in NSW about 20 per cent of school teachers are under 35 and less than 10 per cent are under 30. Nothing has changed during 2012," he said.

Mr Achterstraat said the situation was more pronounced in TAFE NSW, with 84 per cent of permanent TAFE teachers aged 45 or over.

"Many are likely to retire over the next five to 10 years, increasing the risk of significant loss of knowledge and skills for TAFE NSW," he said.


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