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Pyne misses the point: teachers

Wednesday, 25th February, 2015

Barrier Teachers Association President Maureen Clarke. Barrier Teachers Association President Maureen Clarke.

Forcing prospective teachers to sit literacy and numeracy tests was ignoring the “elephant in the room”, according to the Barrier Teachers Association.

Education minister Christopher Pyne last week said the government had accepted most of the 38 recommendations of the teacher education ministerial advisory group.

The report called for a test to assess the literacy and numeracy skills of all teaching graduates to ensure they are classroom-ready.

But Barrier Teachers Association president Maureen Clark said Mr Pyne was ignoring the need for improved funding for schools.

“It is typical of Christopher Pyne to reduce problems in education to a question of teachers training or teacher quality without mentioning the elephant in the room - that is, his failure to address improved funding for schools, particularly public schools which carry the increasing load of students requiring support for social, physical and mental disabilities.

“However, the Barrier Teachers Association has always supported quality teacher training courses and high qualifications for the profession. 

“It seems odd, though, to insist on trainee teachers passing a literacy test before graduation when surely they should already have these skills before entering training?”

Mrs Clark said Mr Pyne’s comments were inconsistent.

“Mr Pyne has (previously) said there should be no minimum ATAR score for teaching. 

“In fact, the NSW government has stated that prospective students must have three Band Five subjects in the HSC, including English, so how is this a consistent attitude within the Coalition to ensuring a quality teaching workforce.”

She also said it could be beneficial to provide specialised courses during university.

“University courses could have more explicit teaching of how to teach certain skills, like remedial reading and maths processes, like the old teachers’ colleges used to do. 

“Regular observation of practicing classroom teachers and frequent practicums are obviously necessary to balance the heavy theory base of some courses. Face to face teaching presents great challenges to new teachers.

“There are already specialist areas in Primary school teaching, such as Special Education. As for specialised training in Maths and Science, all teachers should be given this training. 

“There is scope within schools for the development of specialist teaching if teachers are willing and have specific talents or interest areas.”

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