Catholic systemic schools are suffering from a chronic shortage of casual teachers, forcing educators to forgo professional development and lesson planning.
An Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) survey of staff in 40 schools in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn found 82 per cent of schools couldn't fill a casual vacancy on one or more days in the survey period.
It found 66 per cent of schools were unable to fill three or more days in their two-week timetable cycle. Twenty-three per cent of primary schools and 33 per cent of secondary schools reported temporary or permanent teacher vacancies.
IEUA NSW/ACT branch secretary Mark Northam said the lack of casual employees to cover absences was having an impact on the smooth functioning of schools.
"Schools run on goodwill and that's how our members approach it, but there will be a point where that goodwill expires and we'll be calling on employers to do better here," he said.
Mr Northam said principals, assistant principals, learning support staff and librarians were being called upon to cover classes.
Schools were also cancelling teachers' professional development in order to cover classes, which impacted their ability to meet accreditation requirements, he said.
Mr Northam said the Catholic systemic schools seemed to rely too heavily on casual and temporary employees.
"That type of work is clearly not attracting people in," he said.
"We'll be signalling to Canberra Catholic Education that there are improved employment practices that could be explored."
Catholic Education Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese director Ross Fox said a few schools had experienced early flu and illness among staff.
He said professional learning and curriculum planning had been deferred because of a casual teacher shortage.
"It can put pressure on principals and staff," he said.
Mr Fox said the tutoring programs in NSW and Victoria created in response to COVID-19 learning disruptions could be drawing in more teachers who otherwise might have taken jobs in and around the ACT.
He said the archdiocese was actively considering a range of initiatives to recruit more teachers to work across the system, including permanent relief teacher roles.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: