Sarah Mitchell is the Education Minister for New South Wales.
2022 NSW Teacher's Strike
On June 30th 2022 tens of thousands of New South Wales teacher's held their third strike of the year. According to Unions NSW, New South Wales had nearly 1150 vacant teaching positions across NSW schools. Furthermore, NSW has the least teachers per student in Australia with 80% of teachers having to teach outside of their area of expertise to cover gaps.
On the same day, responding to Ben Fordham on 2GB regarding the issue of teacher shortages, Ms. Mitchell stated that there were 10,000 more teachers than a decade prior and that there had been 3400 recruitments since 2019:
"We've got more teachers in public schools now than we've ever had in New South Wales. We're up to about 90,000 staff on our books and we've got more coming into the system everyday and so what's really frustrating is that, you know, unions tend to pick and choose figures that they want to use at certain times. We're not seeing massive decreases in staff, we've got more people joining and it's important that we continue..."
Ms. Mitchell also claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the current flu season were factors in lesson cancellations and the current teacher shortage.
Independent education expert, Glenn Fahey, has argued that the unions themselves hold some responsibility for teacher shortages:
"There are so many people that want to enter teaching, it’s a really attractive profession despite what the Teacher’s Federation will tell us. The teacher’s union have created road blocks to preventing more teachers entering the profession when ultimately that’s the solution.”
However, Mr. Fahey also noted that Australian teacher's should be paid higher wages.