Darling Downs in midst of teacher shortage
ABOUT eight Darling Downs state schools returned this week with several key teaching positions yet to be filled.
According to analysis of the Queensland Government's SmartJobs website, the Downs and Maranoa region had one of the largest vacancy rates for teachers outside of far north Queensland.
All up 40 Queensland state schools started back this week missing essential staff like maths and science teachers.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said for the past four years schools in the region had an "increasing level of difficulty getting teachers".
"There was one stage two years ago where Chinchilla has something in the order of a significant number of teachers below what they needed," Mr Bates said.
"Schools are beginning to struggle outside of the southeast corner, part of that is the employment pool that they'd draw from is drying up in the southeast corner as well."
Mr Bates said this was due to a number of reasons, including Baby Boomer teachers retiring and not enough students graduating with teaching degrees.
"All the way along we have been saying this isn't about pointing the finger, this is about saying we should be aware these are the warning sings (of a looming teacher shortage crisis) and if we don't act this will become a much broader problem," he said.
The Queensland Government currently offers a number of incentives to get graduate teachers out into regional areas, such as the Teaching College of Excellence program.
Education Minister Grace Grace told the Courier Mail the Government had committed to employing an additional 3700 teachers to cater for increased enrolments at the last election. She said more than 350 teachers had "jumped at the chance" to relocate to regional areas this year.