Susan O'Keefe - Assistant Director, Staffing Services, NSW Department of Education and Training

Susan O' Keefe
'We strongly promote lifelong learning, and aim to provide students with a smooth transition from school to work or further study, and from post-compulsory education and training to work or further study.'

Susan has worked in both the school and university sectors. She started as a high school teacher of English and History and later trained as a school counsellor spending about eight years in that role. She then moved into a student welfare consultancy role advising teachers on child protection and drug education issues. In the early 90s, Susan moved into a management role at the NSW Department of Education and Training before working for the University of Western Sydney (UWS) where she held a variety of roles. During this time, she also returned to study and completed an MBA. As someone who has benefited from the variety of work available within the public education sector, Susan feels that it is great to be able to promote the wonderful opportunities available to existing and prospective teachers.

What is the NSW Department of Education and Training?

The NSW DET is the largest single organisation, public or private, in Australia. Our focus is on delivering high quality, internationally-competitive public education and training from early childhood (preschool), through to the compulsory years of schooling (Kindergarten to Year 10), and senior secondary education leading to the award of the NSW Higher School Certificate (in Years 11 and 12). We strongly promote lifelong learning, and aim to provide students with a smooth transition from school to work or further study, and from post-compulsory education and training to work or further study.

How do you recruit teachers?

Through our teach.NSW ‘Promoting Teaching as a Career’ campaign, we provide a strong message about the benefits of teaching in NSW public schools. We have developed a comprehensive statewide marketing plan using a slogan urging people to ‘Teach and Make a Difference’. The plan includes eye-catching promotional materials, a strong focus on participation at careers fairs and expos, an engaging and informative website and a customer service centre and call centre providing the first point of contact for prospective teachers.

Is there a graduate recruitment program?

Yes. Each year, through our Graduate Recruitment Program, up to 1000 primary- and secondary-trained final year education students can be appointed to permanent teaching positions within our schools. Appointment is based on individual merit and staffing needs. The best and brightest graduate teachers are identified for permanent appointment. Graduates are assessed on their responses at interview, professional experience and academic results.

What qualifications are essential for people who want to go into teaching?

Our teachers must have appropriate academic and teaching qualifications such as a four-year Bachelor of Education or a three-year Bachelor degree plus postgraduate teacher education training. Alternatively, they can have a four- or five-year combined degree such as a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching.

What are the broad requirements for working at the NSW DET as a teacher in K–12?

Along with appropriate academic and teacher training qualifications, teachers are required to satisfy the Department’s personal suitability requirements at an interview, to meet the Department’s health requirements and to be cleared through a national criminal record check which includes the Working with Children Check (as required by NSW legislation). Applicants who have gained the majority of their qualifications in a country where English is not the main language are required to undertake the Professional English Assessment for Teachers (PEAT). Overseas-trained teachers are also required to successfully complete the Pre-employment Program for Overseas-trained Teachers. This 12-day program, which is conducted on a regular basis throughout the year, assists overseas-trained teachers to understand the nature of NSW public schools and the role and responsibilities of a teacher in our schools.

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