MORE than 44,000 qualified teachers are unable to secure a permanent job in the state’s schools — almost as many as the government’s entire teaching workforce.
The huge oversupply has become a crisis as universities pump out 7500 new teaching graduates a year into a school job market that will never be able to accommodate them.
Education chiefs are struggling to correct the serious imbalance of teacher supply and demand driven by the popularity of primary teaching courses at the expense of secondary schools.
While taxpayers fund the oversupply of primary teachers, secondary schools face major shortages of maths and science teachers at upper secondary level — particularly in Western Sydney and in regional areas of the state.
The Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) said it was trying to work with universities to fix the problem.
“We have a problem in the demand-driven university model that is not sensitive to the needs of schools and is very costly to public resources,” president Tom Alegounarias said.
“In the western suburbs of Sydney and in regional areas there are shortages of maths teachers at the higher levels.
“This makes it even more important to get our act together and provide people where we need them.”
Universities have been accused of enrolling too many students in primary teaching courses while “knocking back” enrolments for more challenging maths and science courses.
One school education source said it was common to find people at tertiary level who were familiar with literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird but less so with advanced maths and science.
Another said: “Universities are funded for these (teaching) courses and they send kids out into situations where they are unlikely to get work.”
Research conducted by BOSTES shows that at least one third of the qualified teachers on the Department of Education and Communities’ employment list and unable to secure a permanent job give up looking after four or five years.
In a submission to the federal government, BOSTES strongly criticises the oversupply of graduates.
“The excessive demand for professional experience placements in schools on behalf of student teachers with poor academic records and in teaching specialisations of undoubted oversupply should not continue,” the submission says.
A spokesman for the Department of Education and Communities said incentive schemes were used to boost the supply of teachers in difficult to staff areas.