Transfers fail to win teachers

A CONTROVERSIAL new scheme allowing principals to directly hire staff will not undermine the current teacher transfer system, the NSW government says.

The NSW Teachers Federation yesterday said a last-minute flood of transfer applications lodged with the Department of Education shows that teachers are fearful of the new system's impact.

The union says the changes will undermine the longstanding incentive transfer scheme allowing teachers in hardship posts, including remote areas, to go to the top of the transfer list for a more desirable posting.

Federation president Maree O'Halloran said hard-to-staff and remote schools would also be disadvantaged.

"Many schools and communities in NSW will be hurt by the government's staffing changes," she said.

"They may find it difficult in the coming years to attract and retain sufficient numbers of qualified teachers."

The state education department has been flooded with transfer applications from teachers in tough postings, ahead of the new system's introduction at the end of the month.

The union says a comparison of recent transfer applications supports its fears about the incoming system. In the six weeks leading up to the end of term one last year, 58 new transfer applications were lodged. During the same period this year there were 624, Ms O'Halloran said.

But Education and Training Minister John Della Bosca said the incentive system would remain alongside the new scheme.

"... The incentive transfer system and service transfer list will not be dismantled or abolished," Mr Della Bosca said in a statement yesterday.

"If a teacher wishes to transfer from a remote school, they will continue to have priority. Schools can only advertise after priority placements have been made.

"The reforms we are undertaking are modest but will provide significant improvements in employment opportunities for permanent, casual, temporary and graduate teachers by allowing them to have a greater say in where they pursue their careers."

But Ms O'Halloran said the dramatic rise in transfer applications showed teachers did not believe repeated statements by Mr Della Bosca that the changes were "modest".

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