With the NSW Government set to target temporary workforces and administrative workloads, Education Minister Prue Car announced a 20 per cent drop in the number of teacher vacancies before facing a budget estimates hearing on Tuesday.

“These figures affirm our decision to deliver a once-in-a-generation wage rise to NSW public school teachers, along with our focus on easing teacher workload and improving student behaviour,” she said.

Teacher vacancies had fallen by 460 positions in Term 1 of 2024 compared to 2023, however there were still 1782 vacancies in the first week.

In regional, rural and remote NSW, where schools have traditionally been harder to staff, vacancies have dropped by almost 25 per cent, from 1241 at the start of school last year in 2023, to 938 in 2024.

In some areas, retired or resigned teachers have been lured back.

“Vacancies are trending down for the first time in many, many years but we have so much more to do in terms of arresting the shortage in NSW,” Car told the committee hearing.

“We just simply need more teachers in order to provide relief.”

Education department chief people officer Shaun Ruming said teacher shortages were not just an issue in NSW, but nationally.

The department has worked to transition teachers on temporary contracts to permanent positions.

“That uplift has taken our permanent workforce from 64 per cent to 78 per cent,” he said.

“We added more teachers in 2023 than in 2022 or 2021 ... we placed 5499 teachers into the system (last year).”

Car said the vacancy rates are trending in the right direction and addressing shortages remained a government priority.

One means the Government has used to improve job security has been transitioning 16,000 teachers and support staff on temporary contracts into permanent roles.

“Getting permanent, well paid teachers into our classrooms will pay dividends down the line when it comes to academic outcomes for our students,” Car said.

The Government has also scrapped the public sector wage gap and given teachers a pay rise, ensuring they're among the highest paid in the country, employed more admin support staff and streamlined accreditation requirements, and banned mobile phones in schools since being elected in March.

“These initiatives are underpinned by a desire to restore respect for the teaching profession and let our school staff know we value the work they do every day in educating our children,” Car said.