Class crisis: Staff teaching lessons they don’t understand
Principals are being forced to assign classes to teachers completely unfamiliar with the subject, bring teachers out of retirement and outsource lessons to teachers on the other end of a TV screen.
In classrooms across the state English teachers are teaching foreign languages they do not understand, PE teachers are teaching maths and history teachers are teaching agriculture, as principals struggle to find qualified teachers for every class.
At Tamworth High School an English teacher teaches French, the dance teacher teaches technologies subjects and a PE teacher teaches maths.
The school is also short a Human Society In Environment teacher, as it has not been able to find a permanent or temporary teacher to take care of the subject.
"The PE teacher is teaching maths because there are not enough maths teachers," Tamworth High School teacher Melissa Little said.
"It is really hard to teach out of (subject) area and it can be unfair on students who can be put off by a teacher who is not confident."
Kandos High School near Mudgee in the Central Tablelands does not have a teacher for its Mathematics Advanced HSC subject, even after employing a retired maths teacher on a short-term contract.
The school has not been able to find replacements for two maths teachers that left last year, so Year 12 students now must videoconference a maths teacher in Sydney.
The irregular hours of the virtual lessons requires the Mathematics Advanced students to be in class before and after school, which has forced the school to put on extra buses.
Without a maths head teacher, the school's head science teacher is now responsible for ensuring all maths classes comply with the syllabus.
"Essentially, a science teacher is trying to brush up on a maths syllabus they are not familiar with to make sure the students are learning what they need to," Kandos High School careers adviser Julie Parsons said.
"There are just not enough teachers trained in the state, especially maths and science teachers."
At Model Farms High School at Baulkham Hills in Sydney's northwest, agriculture is taught by a history teacher who volunteered to keep the subject running.
"We teach agriculture but we haven't had an agriculture teacher since halfway through last year," Model Farms High School teacher Chris Colefax said.
"The school has tried to fill the position but has been unable to, so it went to (the education department's School Staffing Unit) but they were not able to fill the position, so it has come back to the school to advertise.
"We may not be able to offer the subject in the future."
Model Farms High School this year hired a retired design and technology teacher on a short-term contract because it could not find a teacher to take the subject.
"This year is one of the worst years we have had in teacher shortages and unfilled vacancies," Mr Colefax said.
"If this continues, you will find schools will not be able to offer the best curriculum for students."
Originally published as Class crisis: Staff teaching lessons they don't understand