Leaders from across the education sector came together last week for The Sydney Morning Herald’s Schools Summit.

Teacher quality and workforce issues, changes to NAPLAN, evidence-based strategy for reading, improving curriculum planning and early childhood education were among the key topics discussed.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a universal pre-Kindergarten year by 2030 with 100,000, preschool places.

Labor’s education spokesperson Prue Car MP said, if elected, a Labor government would establish 100 additional preschools linked to state primary schools and support 50 new preschools within the Catholic and independent sectors.

Minister Mitchell said the NSW government was focusing on the National School Reform agreement, wanting 100 per cent funding for public schools and greater transparency on how the money is actually being spent.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Minister Mitchell and Ms Car agreed the system needs to retain more teachers, and expressed concern about media reports criticising teachers amid declining student learning outcomes.

The minister outlined initiatives to retain teachers in NSW including paying excellent teachers more; making 11,000 teachers permanent; and greater support teachers in schools.

Ms Car said if elected, the opposition would not pursue the Coalition’s performance-based scheme. Instead, it would seek to abolish the wage cap on teacher salaries and convert 10,000 teachers to permanent positions.

She said in 2021 teacher resignations overtook retirements with a 48 per cent increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession due to issues including uncompetitive pay, teacher burnout and decline in the attractiveness of the profession.

Speaking as part of a panel discussion on the issues impacting education including teacher shortages, Catholic Schools NSW chief executive officer Dallas McInerney said the role of decreasing class sizes in increasing teacher demand could not be discounted.

Other key speakers representing Catholic education at the summit included MultiLit director of strategy and senior research fellow, and Five from Five Project director, Dr Jennifer Buckingham; Catholic Schools NSW director of education policy Danielle Cronin; Marist College North Shore principal Anthony Boys; St John the Apostle Catholic Primary School assistant principal, Stephanie Thom; Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown assistant principal – learning teaching and innovation, Cathy Molloy, and Loreto Kirribilli principal Anna Dickinson.

Read more from The Sydney Morning Herald

Photo: Catholic Schools NSW director of education policy Danielle Cronin at last week’s Sydney Morning Herald’s Schools Summit. Photos: Informa Connect Australia.