THE KEY TO BETTER TEACHING: GONSKI REFORMS

19 February 2014

The Government's announcement today of a further review into teacher training is just another diversion from its broken promises.

If the Abbott Government genuinely wanted to improve the quality of teaching in every Australian school, the most important step it could take would be to keep its election promise to "maintain the new school funding model." (Christopher Pyne, Sky News, 17 November 2013)

"Improved teaching quality is one of the five key reforms in Labor's Gonski plan," Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis said.

"Instead of walking away from his promises, Tony Abbott must fund the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski reforms, and hold each state accountable to their responsibilities under these reforms."

"While a focus on teacher training is welcome, Mr Pyne's Advisory Group falls well short of the mark," Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Carr said.

Improving teacher quality and lifting the standards of teacher training is something that is already underway.

"Labor established and funded the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. From this year we are already seeing the benefits, with the formal accreditation of teacher training courses across the country, and the introduction of professional standards for all teachers," Senator Carr said.

Senator Carr said that today's announcement was hollow policy because there was no mention of education research, which is necessary for continued improvement in Australian classrooms.

"Similarly lacking is any reference looking at how we attract and retain the best and brightest students to education," Senator Carr said.
"Australia faces an acute - and worsening - demographic problem with the most common age band for both teachers and school leaders being between 51 and 55. In the face of this challenge we can ill-afford this government's short-term, narrow view of education."

BACKGROUND

Labor's Gonski reforms provide the necessary funding, and make sure that states will take the following actions to improve teacher quality. These improvements are already being implemented in states that signed up:

"Better admissions processes to make sure only the best candidates are trained for the profession.
"Tough literacy and numeracy standards applied before teachers can graduate.
"More practical experience in the classroom before graduation, and better support and training in the classroom during the first years of teaching.
"Professional standards for teachers at each stage of their career.
"Continue to improve teacher education programs in partnership with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, universities and employers.