TEACHERS in Albury and across NSW yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed a package of new salaries and conditions.
At a stop-work meeting at the Commercial Club, 207 local members of the NSW Teachers Federation backed the three-year deal the union had negotiated with the Education Department.
Public school teachers will receive salary increases of 2.27 per cent next year, 2 per cent in 2015 and 2.15 per cent in 2016.
Statewide the vote was 96 per cent in favour of the deal.
Teachers also agreed to principals of small schools being reclassified as “teaching principals” from 2016, a move which carries no change to pay.
This comes after the union rejected a Department of Education proposal to changed their titles to “leading teachers” with a pay reduction.
In the first two months of 2016, small school principals will have the option to become “associate principals” with their administrative tasks passed on to a larger school.
Once they make the decision it will be in place until 2021 with no future option to reverse it.
New principals will automatically fall under “associate principals”.
Of the 207 teachers present at the Albury stop-work, only five — mostly principals — voted against the award, with four abstaining.
Federation Riverina organiser Deb Martin said there was great concern among principals, including about the small window to make the decision.
“They believe the change in title will reduce the importance of their schools in the community and they are concerned the real issue is amalgamations and closures,” Ms Martin said.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the reclassification meant small school principals would spend less time on administrative and management tasks.
Under the deal, the state system’s most talented classroom teachers will be rewarded with a six-figure salary and new teachers will move up the pay scale faster.
From 2016, classroom teachers will earn about $45,000 more after nine years in the job than under the previous pay scale.
And teachers identified as “highly accomplished”, who demonstrate deep content knowledge, sound teaching practices, leadership skills and an ability to analyse student assessment data, will be rewarded with a salary of more than $100,000 a year.
Classroom teachers’ annual pay has now been capped at $89,050.
Previously it was based on the number of years spent in the job.
It meant those after a higher salary often moved into management roles.
NSW director-general of education Michele Bruniges said she hoped the higher salary scales agreed would keep the “best and brightest” teachers in the classroom.