NSW teachers may get help buying a house to move to rural areas
NSW teachers may get help buying a house to move to rural areas

Bush house offer for teachers willing to move

Teachers willing to move out to rural NSW could get government help to buy a house and to find their partner a job.

This is one of the options being looked at by the state government in the first review into its rural incentive scheme in nearly 120 years.

Western NSW is suffering an acute teacher shortage that is forcing many principals to assign classes to teachers completely unfamiliar with the subject, bring former teachers out of retirement and hold virtual lessons with teachers in the city.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has launched the review to find out how to encourage teachers to go out to the bush and has promised more incentives are on the way.

Ms Mitchell wants it to consider if the government should help teachers into the rural housing market and help their spouses into a job nearby.

The review will also consider the viability of encouraging school leavers to take a gap year in regional and remote schools.

"The incentives scheme hasn't been properly reviewed since the early 1900s," Ms Mitchell said.

"Regional NSW is evolving and modernising, and so must our policies.


NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell. Picture: John Grainger
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell. Picture: John Grainger

"I want every student to enjoy the same educational opportunities no matter where they live and that means attracting and keeping great teachers at our regional and remote schools.

"I believe there is an opportunity through this incentives review to see how we can better align our incentives with the local community and ­context."

The spend on incentives for rural teachers has skyrocketed from $1.5 million in 2017 to $29.7 million last year.

The existing suite of incentives include relocation subsidies, rental subsidies between 50 and 90 per cent, a $5000 retention bonus, a $10,000 bonus for experienced teachers, a recruitment bonus for principals, 10-week trials of rural and remote schools before committing to a long-term contract and more personal leave.

But a recent internal government discussion paper found rural schools remain harder to staff, have higher staff turnover, have more junior teachers and have more teachers working in subjects for which they are not trained.

The government wants to understand what more must be done to retain teachers in rural and regional schools, as previous studies and policies have been largely focused on attracting teachers to plug gaps.

The internal briefing paper noted there are not sufficient incentives to counterbalance the social isolation away from friends and family, the higher community expectations and scrutiny, as well as the inability to separate work and personal life outside school hours.

"(There is) greater complexity in identifying, understanding and solving for the factors that motivate teachers to remain in rural and remote environments," the paper read.

A new travel allowance is also on the cards, which is already offered in most other states and territories.


Originally published as Bush house offer for teachers willing to move