No-degree teacher training experiments on students, Australian Education Union says
Australian education No-degree teacher training experiments on students, Australian Education Union says
Plan to allow âhigh-achievingâ people without university degrees to teach condemned
The Australian Education Union has accused the Turnbull government of using students as an âexperimentâ, after tender documents revealed a new government program could allow peo ple without university degrees to teach in classrooms.
For the last federal budget the education minister, Simon Birmingham, announced a new âhigh-achieving teachers programâ as a way of providing ânew and diverse pathways into teachingâ.
The program is essentially a spin-off of the existing Teach for Australia program, which has been running since 2009. Until now the $77m program has been run exclusively by Teach for Australia, but the government has opened the new high-achieving teachers program to bids from other private tenderers.There is more to Aboriginal education than dot paintings and didgeridoos | Lesley Woodhouse Read more
But unlike Teach for Australia â" which accepts university graduates with non-teaching degrees, such as science, maths and arts degrees, the high-achieving teachers program doesnât stipulate that applicants must have a degree.
Instead, tender documents state the purpose of the program is to provide an employment-based pathway into teaching for people with âprofessional or academic experience gained outside of teachingâ.
According to the terms of the tender, applicants would be selected âbased on an assessment of their potential to become high-quality teachersâ, as well as their ability to address a specific teacher workforce challenge and their âcommitment to the teaching professionâ.
It could allow private providers tasked with delivering the program to design an accreditation scheme for people without university degrees.
The providers would have to meet state and territory requirements before placing applicants in schools.
But the union fears the wording of the tender means the program will open the door for those without university qualifications.
The AEUâs federal president Correna Haythorpe said it was proof the minister âdoesnât value the work of qualified teachersâ and accused the government of using students as a âteaching experimentâ.
âMinister Birmingham thinks anybody can be a teacher, with no formal qualifications, via one of these private-sector alternate pathways to teaching programs,â she said.
âHowever nothing could be further from the truth. Teaching is a challenging profession requiring specialised training and experience. Putting unqualified teachers in front of a class of students would have devastating consequences for a childâs education.â
The program is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing stoush between the government and teachers union over teacher qualifications.
The government has made no secret of its ambitions to increase the number of teachers without a background in education, particularly in Stem subjects, and Birmingham told Guardian Australia the program was about âattracting people with the skills, knowledge and commitment to become high-quality teachersâ.
âWe know that teacher quality is the single larges t in-school influence on student performance, which is why we want to support alternative pathways into the teaching workforce for high achievers from other fields,â he said.
âIn particular, we want to attract people with experience and qualifications from a range of industries to help pass on those skills to future generations and perhaps even spark their interest in different fields.
âThe people in this program â¦ will be qualified to work as teachers and ultimately support the education needs of students in areas where there may be shortages of educators.â
In February the government announced it had commissioned a national review of teacher registration with a view to making it easier for people from other professions to become teachers. At the time Birmingham said he wanted to make it easier for people with âreal-world skillsâ, such as tradies or nurses, to become teachers.
The Teach for Australia program has itself been the subject of cr iticism. Last year a government-commissioned evaluation of the program found that Teach for Australia associates âoutperform other early-career teachersâ against professional standard measures.Federal government should take over Tafe and vocational education, KPMG says Read more
But it also raised concerns about attrition rates and the placement of teachers.
The Teach for Australia program is designed to place graduates in socially disadvantaged schools, or schools struggling to find staff.
But the evaluation report found that 13% of its associates worked in schools above the national disadvantage median, and that three years after the placement had finished, less than 50% of graduates were still teaching. Only 30% of those left were in schools below the national disadvantage median.
Haythorpe said attracting teachers from areas such as science and maths required âa concerted strategy to improve the recruitment and retention of teach ers across all curriculum areasâ.Topics
- Australian education
- Simon Birmingham
- Australian universities
- Teacher training
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