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The highest proportion of vacant positions was in country areas, where listings were taking, on average, up to four months to fill, prompting protests across 13 towns and regional cities this week from Wagga to Coffs Harbour, Broken Hill and Dubbo.

Almost 90% of schools in the Far West and Orana region had vacant permanent teaching positions in October, while at least 80% of schools in the Central West and Riverina had vacant positions and 67% of schools in the Richmond Tweed were hiring, new government figures showed.

“The NSW Government is ignoring the advice of its own department about the critical situation we are in,” Rajendra said.

Under the current payment scheme, NSW graduate teachers begin at a base rate of $72,263, rising to $87,157 after two years and peaking at a maximum of $114,720.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the sector was “heading into a perfect storm,” with a 25% increase in students expected over the next five years despite downward trend of completion rates and admissions.

“We are barely graduating enough teachers to keep up, let alone continuing demand as a result of growing student population,” he said.

“The shortages are proof that if we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we don’t get the teachers we need.”

A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said the union was in an award negotiation with the department and was “actively encouraging its members to agitate and disrupt schools across the state as part of its campaign”.

In this year’s budget, the NSW government announced $124.8 million for a Teacher Supply Strategy to deliver a “sustainable pipeline” of teachings and develop a mid-career pathway into teaching.

“Schools regularly have vacancies for permanent positions. These positions are normally filled by temporary teachers while active recruitment is underway, but will still appear as a permanent vacancy,” the spokesperson said.

“This is normal for schools and for a system of NSW’s size.

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