Mark Latham says 13,699 NSW teachers are not allowed to teach because of vaccine mandates. Is it correct?

The claim

While teachers in NSW talk about “cruel” staff shortages and rising workloads, the NSW MLC for One Nation and former Federal Labor leader Mark Latham have suggested that vaccine mandates are to blame.

“The latest data show that 13,699 teachers at [the NSW Education Department] The pay system is not allowed to teach due to insufficient vaccination status, “Mr Latham said on Twitter.

“It’s your NSW teacher shortage crisis right there.”


Is it correct? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Latham’s claim is misleading.

According to a report that Mr Latham suggested was the source of his claim, only 865 teachers on the NSW Department of Education’s payroll were confirmed, per. March 31, that they were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, or that they had provided evidence of vaccination that was subsequently rejected. .

A spokesman for the department told Fact Check that only 208 permanent teachers and 381 teachers on temporary contracts had been fired for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate per. June 6.

The majority of Mr. Latham’s figure consisted of inactive teachers who had not certified their vaccination status. These teachers were not currently working and were therefore not required to certify, nor were they necessarily looking for work.

The figure also captured active teachers who had not certified their vaccination status but who might not have been required to do so. These teachers may have been nominated for a school but not yet assigned a role, or they may have been on longer leave.

A young student raises his hand in a classroom.
Staff working in NSW public schools must be double-vaccinated against COVID-19.(ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

The vaccine mandate in NSW schools

All staff working in NSW public schools must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A public health order issued by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on 23 September 2021 required all education workers in the state to be double-vaccinated (or provide a valid medical exemption) by 8 November the same year.

This health order was followed by two decisions by NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson to establish dual COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement for employment in the department.

On April 20 this year, the NSW Government announced that a number of COVID-19 related public health orders, including those requiring vaccines for education staff, would not be extended beyond May 13, 2022.

Despite this, the Ministry of Education has said that the decisions requiring all staff working in public schools to be double-vaccinated will remain in place, “until the department decides its policy position based on a risk assessment of working environment and safety” .

In accordance with this mandate, all school-based staff are required to certify their vaccination status within the Department’s Vaccination Attestation and Confirmation System (VACS).

According to a page on the department’s website describing the vaccine protocol, staff will “then be asked by a responsible person (such as the principal) to show proof of vaccination”.

The source of the allegation

Latham followed up on his claim on May 28 with a tweet suggests that his figure was “drawn from the May CESE report”.


He wrote: “Many thousands did not certify any vaccination status.”

The NSW Center for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE), which is part of the state’s education department, published a “review of the department’s mandatory vaccination requirements and school-based staff numbers” on May 9th.

Sir. Latham’s figures of 13,699 teachers unable to work due to vaccination status do not appear in this report.

In response to an email from the Fact Check seeking clarification of the source of the allegation, a spokesman for Mr Latham said the “correct” figure was 15,244, but that he did not provide further details on how that figure turned out. reached.

What does the CESE report show?

Contrary to Mr Latham’s claim, the CESE report does not show that 13,699 (or 15,244) teachers are not allowed to teach because of their vaccination status.

The report provides vaccination status data for both 78,535 “active” and 13,348 “inactive” teachers in the NSW Department of Education’s pay system.

Active staff are defined as permanent and temporary staff who are currently attached to a post within a public school and casual staff who are nominated to work at a school (whether or not they are looking for working days).

Temporary and temporary employees who are not currently nominated or nominated are defined as inactive.

Tables in the report contain vaccination status data under the following categories: fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, medically exempt, not vaccinated, not certified and confirmation rejected.

Sir. Latham’s revised figures of 15,244 teachers blocked from working because of their vaccine status correspond to the number of active and inactive teachers who were partially vaccinated, not vaccinated, did not certify their vaccination status in VACS, or who had their evidence on vaccination confirmation. rejected.

But not all those included in his account would necessarily seek work, and some would be on leave or awaiting assignment to a role.

In fact, the majority of the 13,348 inactive teachers included in the report (more than 85 percent) had not certified their vaccination status in the department’s system.

But as the report makes clear, there were several reasons why these 11,442 teachers – who are on the payroll as inactive staff for up to 18 months after their last assignment – may not have certified.

“First, staff who are not currently teaching are not required to certify,” the report reads.

“Second, these teachers may have decided to retire or no longer actively seek positions.”

In addition, the report notes that the 2,937 active teachers (3.7 percent) who had not certified may have done so due to being on extended leave, or may have confirmed their status outside of VACS due to privacy issues.

“[Active] “Staff on leave are not required to certify VACS until they intend to return to school-based activities,” the report said.

Random staff who have been nominated to work at a school are also defined as active, but are not required to certify before being assigned a role.

According to the CESE report, of the 78,535 active teachers on the NSW Department of Education’s payroll per As of March 31, 74,539 (94.9 percent) were fully vaccinated and 335 (0.4 percent) were medically exempt, while 724 (0.9 percent) were either partially vaccinated, not vaccinated at all, or had their vaccination certificate denied.

The remaining 3.7 percent of active teachers had not certified their vaccination status within VACS.

Out of 13,348 inactive educators, 1,717 (12.9 percent) were fully vaccinated and 141 (1.1 percent) were either not vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or had their vaccination confirmation rejected.

How many unvaccinated teachers are unable to work?

An empty classroom with a yellow board with "KEEP YOUR DISTANCE" on it.
There is little evidence that the vaccine mandate causes a shortage of teachers.(ABC News: Kyle Harley)

In the CESE report, the total number of active and inactive teachers was confirmed as unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or who had provided evidence of vaccination, which was later rejected, 865.

In a statement, a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education Fact Check said Mr Latham’s claim was “false and misleading” and that “the vast majority of public school staff have been vaccinated”.

According to the spokesman, the department had per. June 6 terminated 381 temporary teaching contracts (which did not include any principals or directors) due to non-compliance with vaccination requirements.

A further 208 full-time teachers, including teachers, principals and school leaders, had been laid off.

“This number is extremely low and NSW has appointed over 3,000 teachers in 2022, it is factually incorrect to say that vaccine mandates have contributed to a shortage of teachers.”

The CESE report also suggests that there is little evidence that the vaccine mandate leads to an emigration of teachers.

“If a large number of employees were moved from active to inactive as a result of the vaccine mandate, the department would expect to see a correspondingly large decrease in the number of active employees and an increase in the number of inactive employees,” the report explains.

“Since the active counts for March 31, 2022 are mostly similar to those for October 28, 2021, with only a small increase to inactive counts, there is no strong evidence of a large shift in staff status.”

Principal Investigator: Ellen McCutchan


  • ABC RN, teachers comment on ‘cruel’ staff shortage that paralyzes many NSW public schools, ABC News, 4 June 2022
  • Mark Latham, Twitter, May 28, 2022
  • Mark Latham, Twitter, May 29, 2022
  • Brad Hazzard, Public Health Ordinance (COVID-19 Vaccination of Education and Care Workers) 2021, September 23, 2021
  • Georgina Harrisson, Determination Under The Education (School Administrative And Support Staff) Act 1987, Determination No. 1 Of 2021, Covid-19 Vaccination Evidence, October 18, 2021
  • Georgina Harrisson, Determination Under The Teaching Service Act 1980, Determination No. 1 Of 2021, Covid-19 Vaccination Evidence, October 18, 2021
  • NSW Government, Vaccination Requirements for School Places, June 3, 2022
  • NSW Department of Education, CESE Review of the Department’s Mandatory Vaccination Requirements and School-Based Staffing, 9 May 2022

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