NSW Education culls 600 tech support roles

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NSW Education culls 600 tech support roles

Funding no longer available after laptops program ends.

As many as 600 technology support officers working in public high schools across New South Wales will lose their jobs at the end of June after funding for the national digital education revolution program dries up.

The former Labor Government announced the $1 billion DER program in 2007, providing laptops to every student from years 9 to 12.

After delivering 967,000 laptops across the country and spending $2.4 billion over its lifetime, the program was quietly ended last year.

The onsite technology support officers were employed as part of the program and were responsible for the maintenance and ongoing support of the laptops.

The NSW Department of Education informed school principals on Thursday the contracts for approximately 600 workers would not be renewed when their current terms ended on June 27.

The department had been able to extend the contracts, originally due to expire in October last year, until June using the last pot of remaining funds from the DER program.

Now that the federal funds have been exhausted, the state government was unable to fund the contracts and will therefore not renew them, leaving it up to individual schools to pay for the positions out of existing budgets if they chose to continue them.

"A review of technical support for schools was recently completed by the department," NSW Education CIO Stephen Loquet told school principals in the email, sighted by iTnews.

"The review confirmed that without a substitute funding source the central engagement and allocation of TSOs is no longer possible."

Loquet said the department would provide advice to school principals on how to create their own TSO-style position should they choose to do so, and on separation procedures for existing TSOs should they not. 

"I acknowledge the role played by technology support officers in supporting teachers and students and thank them for their contribution to public education as part of the DER program," Loquet said.

IT support will continue to be available to schools through the department's regionally-based "T4L" technology support staff.

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