Coffs teacher dispute continues

NEW staffing arrangements for Coffs Coast schools began yesterday, despite continued industrial tension between teachers and the government.

Since the announcement earlier this year that principals would be able to hire staff from open advertisements, two campaigns have been waged, with school classrooms the battleground.

The NSW Teachers Federation claim the changes to staffing arrangements mean teachers' rights will suffer, while the Department of Education and Training claim the new system would be fair.

NSW Minister for Education and Training, John Della Bosca, said the old arrangements mean many teachers are locked out from applying for positions.

"If a teacher wishes to transfer from a remote school, they will continue to have priority," Mr Della Bosca said.

"Schools can only advertise after priority placements have been made and graduate, permanent and casual teachers will then be able to apply."

But NSW Teachers Federation president, Maree O'Halloran, said it is a "smoke-and-mirrors trick" for the government to claim that full local selection and the transfer system will operate together.

Ms O'Halloran said one school has already seen 13 teachers lodge applications to transfer amid fear the transfer system will soon end.

"The dramatic rise in transfer applications show that teachers do not believe the government and they do not believe the repeated statements that the changes are modest," she said.

"All schools will be disrupted and it will take some weeks under the new system to replace teachers, leaving classes of students without a regular teacher."

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