Melton Secondary College, on Melbourne’s western fringe, has recruited two teachers through the scheme: a VCE systems engineering and physics teacher, and a literacy and learning specialist.
Principal David Reynolds said the school had advertised both roles multiple times over a four-month period last year, but no one suitable had applied.
“It’s essential that kids study those subjects, so we were getting a bit anxious towards the end of the year about whether we were going to be able to get someone qualified,” Mr Reynolds said.
Both roles are critical if the school’s students are to perform well in their senior years.
“Students need that expert teaching to be able to be in the best position to take on the certificate years of VCE and VCAL,” he said.
“We particularly want our students to have the option of going on to tertiary study when they leave year 12.”
Michelle Griffiths left her long-standing job as principal of Elmore Primary School, a school near Bendigo with just 30 students, to become a teaching coach and literacy specialist at Melton Secondary College, which has 1200 students.
Ms Griffiths said she was “equal parts excited and terrified” at the thought of switching to such a large school, but was drawn to the school’s strong literacy program.
She said the financial incentive scheme had allowed her to follow her passion to work as a literacy specialist.
“Reading really is such an important, basic, foundational skill that everyone needs in their life,” Ms Griffiths said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be changing tyres or whatever your role is going to be in life, you’re going to need to read.”
The cash bonus softened the financial hit of moving from a principal’s salary to a teacher’s wage.
“An incentive like that, it bridges the gap, it means that you can follow your passion instead of just worrying about, how will I meet my financial commitments,” she said.
Ms Griffiths has moved from Bendigo to Kyneton for the new role, cutting her commute to Melton by an hour each way.
Schools in suburbs including Reservoir, Dallas, Heidelberg, Melton, Hampton Park, Frankston Officer, Lalor and Hoppers Crossing have also gained new teachers through the scheme.
Regional and rural schools in Ararat, Echuca, Shepparton, Euroa, Mildura, Bairnsdale, Sale and Lakes Entrance have also recruited new teachers.
Minister for Education James Merlino said the government knew it could be difficult to fill some teaching positions in schools, “which is exactly why we are investing in initiatives to encourage teachers to take up positions in hard-to-staff areas and to support teachers develop expertise in additional fields”.
Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.