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'Historic' deal to make NSW teachers nation's best paid

Nikki Short/AAP PHOTOS

NSW teachers have accepted a state government offer that will lead to many becoming the best paid in the country.

The NSW Teachers Federation endorsed a new agreement with the government at a union meeting on Saturday, following months of negotiations.

All 95,000 teachers across the state will be paid more from October 9 - a move hoped to address chronic staff shortages.

The starting salary for NSW teachers will increase from $75,791 to $85,000, while those at the top of the pay scale will go from $113,042 a year to $122,100, representing the highest rates in the country.

Negotiations will continue over what happens to teacher salaries following the first-year increase, after the government scrapped an earlier offer of 2.5 per cent annually over three years which the union had rejected.

Education Minister Prue Car said it was always the intention of the government to negotiate a new deal for teachers.

"For too long, teachers in NSW have been undervalued, overworked and underpaid," Ms Car said.

"I am so proud that today we are able to give teachers the pay rise they so urgently deserve.

"Pay is a function of respect and teaching is one of the most, if not the most, valuable role in our society."

Full details on how the government will afford to pay teachers more will be outlined in the September 19 state budget.

With the budget already strained by massive debt, Ms Car said a standard public service pay increase of 4.5 per cent had already been factored in.

The remainder will come from savings within the education department, including on staff travel and hiring consultants.

"We will unashamedly be redirecting money from the bureaucracy into the thing that makes a difference for kids, and that is the teacher in the classroom," Ms Car said.

Teachers will move to a seven-step pay scale, with all levels to receive a percentage-based increase in pay packets from the start of term four.

School counsellors will also receive a pay increase in recognition of their qualifications and acute staff shortages in the discipline.

Those at the upper end of the counsellor pay grade will receive as much as head teachers while some, including senior psychologists, will be paid in line with school principals.

NSW Teachers Federation acting president Henry Rajendra, said shortages of counsellors in schools mean students aren't getting the support they need, with the pandemic having impacted on their wellbeing.

"With this agreement you will see school counsellors elevated to a significantly higher salary that gives us a great opportunity to recruit the school counsellors that we need," he said.

Opposition education spokesperson, Sarah Mitchell accused the government of not being transparent over how it will pay for the deal and exactly how much it will cost.

The former education minister said when in government, the coalition was looking at directing teacher pay rises based on merit rather than tenure, under its Rewarding Excellence policy.

"That was about finding ways to identify high performing teachers and pay them more, and really incentivise excellence in the classroom," Ms Mitchell said.

"That's a program the government has scrapped and I think that's a real shame."

Mr Rajendra said the ultimate beneficiaries of the "historic" change would be children.

"It will mean the rebuilding of our profession, the stability of teacher numbers across the state, and hopefully the end of this crippling teacher shortage that has so damaged the learning opportunities for so many kids," he said.


* NSW (from October 9) - $85,000 - $122,100

* Victoria - $76,484 - $113,456

* Queensland - $81,628 - $108,359

* Western Australia - $78,397 - $113,568

* South Australia - $74,769 - $103,129

* Tasmania - $78,074 - $111,536

* ACT - $79,108 - $117,538

* Northern Territory (from October) - $84,191 - $120,742