Teachers from the Highlands and Tablelands are determined to have their voices heard and improve conditions for teachers across the state in next week's 24 hour strike.
Principals and teachers across NSW are due to walk off school premises for the entire day on December 7, and 17 schools in Goulburn and schools in the Highlands will take part.
The NSW Teachers Federation voted unanimously to strike on Saturday (November 27) after the Perrottet government refused to increase teachers' planning and preparation time outside the classroom.
"It's really hard to try and fit everything in one day with prep," said The Crescent School teacher and president of the Goulburn Teachers Federation Jennifer Kell-McCue.
"The number of projects that the government continue to throw at us, and lots are great, but there is not enough time to understand them," said Moss Vale Public School teacher and member and councillor of the Southern Highlands Teacher's Association Committee Penny Colman.
With the recommendations outlined in the Gallop inquiry, which was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation, principals and teachers are seeking an annual salary increase between five to 7.5 per cent.
It also revealed that current levels of preparation time for teachers had been unchanged since the 1950s for secondary teachers and the 1980s for primary school teachers.
Ms Kell-McCue said that she has two hours a week RFF time (release from face-to-face) per week outside of the classroom to prepare.
Recommendations alongside the Gallop inquiry encouraged an increase in preparation time of two hours a week to enable teachers more time for lesson planning and collaboration with colleagues.
"Collaborating is something teachers want to do that benefits students' learning and benefit us with student contexts," Ms Colman said.
"We are hoping that we can achieve pay, we want to be paid for our time and ability for teaching," Ms Kell-McCue said.
"We don't ask for much, we ask to be valued and keep the profession alive."
According to a paper written by Adam Rorris that has been commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation between 11,000 and 13,700 full-time equivalent teachers are required for schools in 2031.
A confidential NSW Government briefing document that was prepared for the Department of Education's secretary in July outlined that areas across NSW were "facing a large and growing shortage of teachers, in specialisations like STEM and inclusive education, in rural and regional areas, and secondary".
Ms Kell-McCune said that shortages were "really profound" in rural and regional areas.
She said that there were not enough casual teachers and if she was sick, her class would need to "split".
The document said that enrolments in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses across the state dropped by almost 30 per cent between 2014 with 9620 enrolments compared to 6780 enrolments in 2019.
Read also: David Dalaithngu was 'one of the greatest'
A document from the Department of Education in August, 2020 said the demand for teachers would rise with the decline of teaching graduates.
It also stated that "the demands and expectations on teachers are increasing, while the current rewards, pathways, and learning opportunities are not providing enough incentive".
"It's really disappointing that the department and government know, and say that there isn't a problem," Ms Colman said.
"I'd rather have one day without off then have a whole year without teachers in the classroom."
"On average, teacher pay has been falling relative to pay in other professions since the late 1980s and this makes it a less attractive profession for high achieving students," it said.
Mr Perrottet said the offer to increase pay by 2.5 per cent was "fair and reasonable" given the job losses due to the pandemic but said he wanted to work with and support teachers.
"It's one profession that's always needed," Ms Kell-McCune said.