Teachers from Melbourne are being offered $700 a day to work in regional schools as principals struggle to fill key positions.
Soaring Covid and Influenza cases have sparked severe staff shortages across Victoria, with one principal saying the situation is the worst he has ever seen.
On top of unprecedented sickness leave, some schools are also grappling with structural issues that have left them unable to recruit enough staff.
Now, casual relief teachers are being offered around $300 above their typical daily rate to work in government schools in country Victoria.
Recruitment agency anzuk this month started advertising casual teaching roles for $700-a-day, which will remain in place for term two and will likely continue into term three.
Casual teachers based in Melbourne can almost double their daily earnings by working at a regional school as Victoria grapples with staff shortages
The financial incentive – which is almost double the ordinary rate of $400 – will be subsidised by the Victorian government.
‘Education has been significantly impacted by the effects of the pandemic,’ anzuk recruitment team leader Tenielle Henderson wrote.
‘Whilst schools across the state have all been affected, schools in regional Victoria have been hit the hardest.
‘To address this, the Department of Education has brought in a new financial incentive to help teachers from metro Melbourne to support schools in regional Victoria. The financial incentive will cover the costs incurred to travel plus some extra spending money.’
There are currently staff shortages across regional Victoria as well as in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs as sickness coupled with absenteeism hollows rosters.
The crisis is also affecting Catholic schools in regional areas, with some principals warning classes may need to be combined or students ordered to learn from home if the issue worsens.
Recruitment agency anzuk this month started advertising casual teaching roles for $700-a-day for schools in regional Victoria. Pictured: Marian College in Ararat, VIC
Principals say the teaching workforce appears to be declining, with applications for positions drastically dropping this year.
This has led to those in the field picking up more work to cover empty positions, and subsequently becoming burnt out.
‘We are getting no applicants for positions we are advertising. English, humanities, usually we’d get several applicants, and we have got none,’ Anthony Rodaughan, principal of Kurnai College in Morwell, told The Age.
‘The teachers that aren’t sick are taking extra classes, so their energy levels drop.
‘The whole place becomes thinner and thinner, so some people need a mental health day, they just need to get out, and that leaves a hole someone else must fill, so it can spiral.’
Victorian Principals Association chief executive Andrew Dalgleish said more needed to be done to entice students into taking up teaching.
The shortages are mainly being driven by Covid and Influenza cases, which have exacerbated pre-existing roster issues. Pictured: A woman receives a Covid vaccine in Melbourne in August
He said those in the industry keep discussing ways of increasing the attractiveness of the profession but it does not appear to be happening as quickly as desired.
Melbourne-based teachers are already eligible for initial payments of up to $50,000 if they take up a long-term job at a regional government school.
As part of his pre-election promise, Anthony Albanese announced $150 million plan to get more high achievers into teaching and boost the numbers of science and mathematics teachers.
Under the plan, 5,000 students with an 80 or higher ATAR will be able to receive $10,000 a year to study teaching, plus an extra $2000 if they move to the bush.
The plan will also fund 1500 extra placements to retrain mathematicians and scientists and support them as they work part-time as teachers while getting their masters degree in education.
If the proposal goes ahead, it will mean students will be able to earn up to $40,000 for studying teaching and up to $48,000 if they are prepared to work in a regional area.