Teacher training standard too low: Piccoli

The NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, has criticised the current teaching standard of universities training the state’s public school teachers.
The minister has commissioned a discussion paper, on reforms to improve the standard of teaching, from the Education Department, the NSW Board of Studies and the NSW Institute of Teachers.
Piccoli has also addressed the NSW Council of Deans of Education conference, to discuss issues ranging from low scores required to get into some teaching degrees to the lack of actual classroom training required for undergraduates.
He has said, “I don’t want to deny anybody a university degree or a university career” but added that improvement in the degree is essential to teach children who should receive high-quality education.
Piccoli also said that out of the 5000 undergraduate teachers that finish university each year, only between 300 and 500 are hired by the Education Department.
Professor of teacher education and the arts at the University of Sydney Robyn Ewing said the minister is making a “huge generalisation”.
She said the ATAR entry at the University of Sydney compares well with the entry to many other professions. “For example, for this year’s school leavers [it] ranged from 90 for primary, 83-86 for secondary combined degrees and 78 for early childhood applicants.”
Ewing agreed with the minister about the value of classroom experience but said the length is not as important.
She said when looking at teacher shortages “we need to examine the increasing expectations we place on today’s teachers as well as salary and conditions”.
Ewing admits mathematics and science graduates are in short supply in Australia as teachers but suggests this is because they can attract a higher salary in the corporate world.
The professor added that the minister has miscalculated the employed number of graduates.
She said many are employed by the Catholic and independent sector as well; many graduates are employed in temporary and casual positions, “well over and above the 500 quoted by the minister.” 

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