Volume Nine 2012 focusing on Education and Communities

Lack of young teachers in schools and TAFE

“Last year, I reported that in New South Wales, around 20 per cent of public school teachers are under 35 and less than 10 per cent are under 30. Nothing has changed during 2012. We need to do more to attract and retain young teachers to a profession that is essential for our children and our future prosperity,” said the Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat.

There are 48,527 permanent school teachers in New South Wales public schools. Almost 55 per cent of these teachers are 45 years of age or older.

The Illawarra and South East and North Coast regions are particularly concerning, with the percentage of teachers younger than 40 significantly lower, and those older than 50 significantly higher than the State average.

The Department of Education and Communities undertakes a workforce planning process each year to develop projections for teacher supply and demand. This plan suggest more than 37,000 applicants were seeking permanent teaching positions at 1 March 2012. However, only 2,232 permanent school teachers were appointed during 2011.

The situation is more pronounced in TAFE NSW with 84 per cent of permanent TAFE teachers aged 45 or over.

“I reviewed the age profile of permanent TAFE teachers and found many are likely to retire over the next five to ten years increasing the risk of significant loss of knowledge and skills for TAFE NSW,” Mr Achterstraat said.

Year 12 retention rates continue to increase

Retention rates for New South Wales Government school students and those from targeted equity groups continued to increase as reported by the Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, in his report released to Parliament today.

“The Department of Education and Communities advises that the retention rate for all students has increased from 64.5 per cent in 2007 to 70.5 per cent in 2011,” reported Mr Achterstraat. “Advice from the Department is that some of the improvement from 2010 to 2011 can be attributed to the success of the locally managed school-based initiatives and raising the school leaving age.”

Under the Education Amendment Act 2009, all students are now required to stay at school until the end of Year 10, after which they must continue in education, training or paid work until they turn 17.

Process used to revalue school and TAFE buildings flawed

The Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat, qualified his audit opinions on the Department of Education and Communities’ and the TAFE Commission’s respective 30 June 2012 financial statements because of flaws in the process used to revalue buildings.

“There were flaws in the process used and more work is needed to support the values recorded. This work may confirm the value of the buildings is correct or it may highlight shortcomings in the revaluation process,” said Mr Achterstraat.

Mr Achterstraat welcomed the commitments made by the Department to address these issues moving forward.

The Department undertook a revaluation of 27,000 buildings at schools, TAFE colleges and including those constructed as part of the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.

Mr Achterstraat found the Department could not substantiate the results of the revaluation.

“I compared the replacement costs used in the revaluation process to actual costs paid for new buildings under the BER program,” explained Mr Achterstraat. “The Department’s revaluation figures suggest the cost to replace new BER buildings would be $664 million less than what was actually paid for them.”

The Auditor-General’s review indicated the replacement cost of some buildings after revaluation was up to 84 per cent lower than actual costs incurred on new BER buildings.

“The significant decrease in cost attributed to new BER buildings in the revaluation process may be due to actual costs paid for BER buildings being too high, construction prices may have been higher during the period of the BER program or replacement cost rates used in the revaluation process may be incorrect,” suggested Mr Achterstraat.

The Auditor-General found that much of the information used in the revaluation process had not been appropriately considered or adequately corroborated.

“The Department could not provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate the rates used in the revaluation process were consistent with actual construction costs for similar assets,” said Mr Achterstraat.

Harry Potter™: the exhibition cast its magic over the museum’s visitor numbers

Harry Potter™: The Exhibition is the most popular exhibition the Powerhouse Museum has staged.

Visitor numbers to the Museum grew by 59.6 per cent in 2011-12 compared to the previous year. Harry Potter™: The Exhibition was the main reason for this growth, attracting 382,565 visitors. 

“The Museum advises that the number of visitors was 17.6 per cent higher than its target,” reported the Auditor-General, Mr Peter Achterstraat. “The Museum is to be congratulated for their efforts in delivering such a successful event for New South Wales.”

In recognition of the exhibition’s outstanding performance, the Museum was awarded the 2012 Premier’s Public Sector Award in the Building the Economy category. This category recognises projects that stimulate and sustain economic growth to establish NSW as the ‘first place in Australia to do business’.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email: barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au