The Education Department has rejected claims by the teachers’ union that school funding changes will reduce the incentive for teachers to move to the country.
State School Teachers Union president Anne Gisborne said the department was removing a pathway for country teachers to return to the city after two years.
She said that under changes to staff allocation, teachers employed at country schools in fixed term positions would now be placed in those schools permanently.
Previously, they were put into a transfer pool of redeployees with “preferred status” to be considered for a city school posting.
Ms Gisborne said teachers who had almost completed two years in a country school on the understanding they would get a quicker passage back to a city school felt betrayed.
“People out in the country should be very alarmed,” she said.
Ms Gisborne said the change also removed the incentive for teachers to move to the country and had “huge ramifications” for the ability of remote schools to attract teachers in the future.
A Goldfields teacher said local staff had been shocked to learn of the change in expectations.
Education Department workforce executive director Cliff Gillam said while country teachers would now be made permanent at the school where they did their service, they would still have the option to apply for a transfer or merit selection to another school.
He said there had been a common misconception that two years of country service guaranteed teachers a transfer to a metropolitan school, but a teacher on the redeployee list could be placed in a country or city school.
“Principals have been asking for some time for changes to the Country Teaching Program to reduce the turnover of staff and give rural students greater stability in their education,” he said.
“Teachers appointed to the Country Teaching Program will now have a clear pathway after two years of continuous service to a permanent position at the country school where they are working - an employment status which is highly sought after by most teachers.”
Mr Gillam said once teachers became permanent employees, they still had the option to place themselves on the teacher transfer pool and the fixed term appointment pool for metropolitan and country schools, or they could apply on merit for positions advertised in independent public schools.
“Their country teaching service will give them more transfer points and place them higher up the transfer list,” he said.“Teachers in the Country Teaching Program will also receive an annual allowance for country service according to location and access to five additional days sick leave for each completed year of service.”