Teachers and principals will walk out for 24 hours on Tuesday as new figures show the number of vacant permanent teaching positions in NSW has increased to more than 3000.
Of those, at least 79 vacancies are in the Illawarra - Wollongong High School has the most vacancies (five) followed by Dapto Public, Mount Warrigal Public and Albion Park Rail Public all short four teachers.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the government had made no effort to address the unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries that were leading to growing teacher shortages across NSW.
News of the strike has been met with mixed reactions from Illawarra parents. Some believe it's the most effective way to get shortages dealt with now, and improve learning environments for children.
Others were baffled that students who do attend school on Tuesday - many the children of emergency services and other essential workers - will be cared for in a mixed-year setting, despite the Department of Education's stringent restrictions on other events where students could mingle across year groups, such as graduations and formals.
Mr Gavrielatos said regardless of the arrangements on Tuesday, students would miss out long-term without more teachers.
"If we don't pay teachers what they are worth, we won't get the teachers we need," he said.
"The workloads of teachers are unmanageable and the government's 10-year wages cap means the salary they earn doesn't reflect the skills or responsibilities they have."
New figures also published by the NSW Government show that the shortages are forcing one in five Year 7 to 10 teachers to teach outside their area of expertise. One in three secondary teachers educating children with disabilities are working outside their area of expertise.
In line with the recommendations of the Gallop inquiry, teachers and principals are seeking a salary increase of between five to 7.5 per cent a year to recognise the increase in their skills and begin to reverse the decline in teachers' wages compared to other professions.
As of February 2021 a first-year graduate teacher earns $72,263 a year. Assistant principals and head teachers earn a minimum of $124,038 and deputy principals earn a minimum of $144,822.
An increase in preparation time of two hours a week is also sought to allow teachers more time for lesson planning and collaboration with their colleagues.
The Gallop inquiry found the current levels of preparation time had not changed since the 1950s for secondary teachers and the 1980s for primary teachers.
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