The NSW government wants to increase the number of highly accomplished or lead teachers in the state almost tenfold in the next three years by making it easier for them to be accredited.
Head of the state's teachers union Angelo Gavrielatos says the announcement is overdue and designed to distract from the sector's calls for wage increases and reduced workloads.
Teachers seeking to be recognised as a highly accomplished or lead teacher (HALT) and receive the pay rise that comes with it will go through a simpler accreditation process, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said on Sunday.
The changes come following a meeting with select teachers from around the state on Thursday, when Ms Mitchell and Premier Dominic Perrottet were told the current process was putting teachers off applying because it was too challenging and took too long.
"The updated process will minimise the administrative burden and better support teachers applying," Ms Mitchell said.
Changes to HALT accreditation were also recommended by an inquiry commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation, conducted by former WA premier and education minister Geoff Gallop.
The inquiry's report, published in February last year, said the number of teachers who had managed to achieve accreditation showed the HALT pathway had not developed into a process that adequately recognised the advanced teaching expertise in public schools.
The government should embrace the other recommendations of the Gallop inquiry, including increasing teacher salaries and reducing their administrative workload, NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos told AAP on Sunday.
"What we've got here is an admission of policy failure by the minister for education," Mr Gavrielatos said.
"These announcements are also designed to deflect attention from the real structural issues of uncompetitive pay and unsustainable workloads that see us now in the midst of a teacher shortage that is becoming increasingly critical."
Another recommendation of the inquiry commissioned by the union was to reduce the burden of administrative work on teachers, which also came up at the Thursday meeting with the teachers advisory group.
"There is a lot of time that is taken away from our teaching staff into areas of administration that we should look at, so we will certainly take that on board," Mr Perrottet said on Thursday.
Opposition education spokeswoman Prue Car was critical of the new advisory group, which she described as a talk fest that is not going to recruit a single new teacher.
It can take up to three years to complete an application to become a HALT teacher and it requires teachers to demonstrate they have consistently met the standards required over a sustained period.
There are 274 HALT teachers in the state currently, including some who are on the teachers advisory group, but Ms Mitchell wants there to be 2500 by 2025.
The Gallop inquiry found there had never been such an increase in the history of HALT accreditation.
There had been a roughly fivefold increase between 2014 and 2019, growing from 41 to 200 accredited teachers in that time.
The changes to the application process follow two strikes by the teacher's union in less than six months.
The pay rise of up to 7.5 per cent the teachers are seeking - above the 2.5 per cent cap on public sector wage increases in NSW - would cost the state billions and comes while healthcare and public transport workers are also calling for wage increases.
Mr Perrottet has hinted at lifting wages in the upcoming state budget but has made no guarantees that whatever is announced next month will fully appease the various unions and their workers.
Australian Associated Press
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