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Better teachers 'need more pay'

Thursday, 7th March, 2013

By Gayle Ball

The President of the BH teachers' union has questioned how the State Government is going to lift the standard of teaching in NSW schools after it cut $1.7 billion from the education budget.

Education Minister Adrian Picolli yesterday released the Government's new plan, called Great Teaching, Inspired Learning.

Under the plan, only school leavers who score above 80 per cent in at least three subjects will be given entry to university teaching courses.

Teaching students will also sit mandatory literacy and numeracy tests before being allowed into classrooms where they will be mentored by the best teachers in the school.

Pay will be linked to performance rather than length of employment and to get a practical placement, teaching students will also be required to pass a literacy and numeracy test proving they are in the top 30 per cent of students in NSW.

President of the Barrier Teachers' Association, Maureen Clark, said the union supported the higher qualifications and the best literacy standards for new teachers, but wanted to see wages increased to reflect those changes.

"I hope the government realises that they will need a more professional wage to attract these highly qualified candidates, and raise the status of the teaching profession," Mrs Clark said.

"I'm wondering how they're going to attract these people when they are reducing money put into education.

"How are they going to attract the best and the brightest, who would naturally have a greater choice of vocations and would naturally be drawn Adrian Picolli to those vocations with more comfortable conditions and lucrative rates of pay?"

Mrs Clark said she hoped professional learning would be offered to all teachers, in addition to new graduates.

"I'm looking forward to the status of teaching being raised, especially since the State Government has spent a considerable amount of time undermining the profession and have failed to provide necessary resources to teachers to help them achieve quality outcomes for their students."

Other unions also welcomed moves to enhance the status of teaching but called for them to be linked to adequate resourcing. Mr Piccoli conceded
some of the recommendations involving supporting first year teachers would have a significant financial impact.

"But the vast majority of the actions in here are not aspirational," he said.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the reforms were "broad and deep" and could no longer be put off.

Opposition education spokeswoman Carmel Tebbutt backed lifting university entrance marks but said good teaching also relied on training and support.

The government's plan includes reducing the load for beginner teachers, improving professional development and strengthening mentoring.

"Those are things that need funding and this government instead of increasing funding is in fact reducing funding for education," Ms Tebbutt told reporters.

She also said it would also be hard to attract "the best and brightest" when teachers had just copped the lowest pay increase in a decade.

Ms Mulheron called on the government to reverse its $1.7 billion in budget cuts.

"We lose too many young people in the first three to four years," she said.

"We need financial incentives and professional support to make sure they stay in teaching."

Greens MP John Kaye said the changes were a recipe for teacher shortages.

"There is no fat left in public schools. Any additional burden will cut into classroom teaching." - with AAP

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