The government has backed proposed laws to increase the standard of teaching by raising the entry mark required for school leavers to study teaching.
The government has backed proposed laws to increase the standard of teaching by raising the entry mark required for school leavers to study teaching.

Government backs better standards for teachers

Future teachers could find it tougher to get into university after the state government backed a bid to increase the entry score to at least 70.

Under the proposal recommended by a new parliamentary report and supported by the government, aspiring teachers will also need to maintain an average university mark of 70.

The crackdown on dumb teachers is part of the government's response to Mark Latham's Upper House inquiry into the Measurement and Outcome Based Funding in NSW Schools released on Tuesday.

In her response to the report, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said she supported the tough new standards but said it would be subject to operational details.

Ms Mitchell did not answer the Daily Telegraph's questions about how and when the recommendations would be enforced.

Mr Latham said urgent action in schools was required in light of the state's worsening Programme for International Student Assessment scores and poor NAPLAN scores.

"If (the government) say they are supporting it, I will be there for the next seven years, I will be monitoring it to make sure these things are not only supported, they're implemented," he said.

"They are all good ideas, you can't sit there and say the system is headed in the right direction because it is clearly headed in the wrong direction in a large number of schools and you have to turn it around and you have to make sensible changes.

"Lifting the quality of the person going into the teaching profession is a pretty good place to start."

Last year, students who scored Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks as low as 49.65 out of a possible 99.95 were admitted into the state's universities.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has been cagey about enforcing the regulations. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has been cagey about enforcing the regulations. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

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The new score requirement will be in addition to the current rules which state student teachers must score in the top two bands in three of their final year subjects, one of which must be English.

Centre for Independent studies education policy researcher Glenn Fahey welcomed the decision to lift the score required but said more needed to be done during university to better equip teachers.

"The real question we have to be looking at is what is being taught in the three to four years while at university," he said.

University of NSW second year teaching student Rebecca Gismondo, 19, said increasing the ATAR to 70 would remove students who simply studied teaching as a backup option because they did not do well at school.

"If they're not really interested they can get into a teaching job quite easily ... I support increasing it," she said.

Teaching student Rebecca Gismondo says the new rules will eliminate students studying teaching as a back-up. Picture:Justin Lloyd
Teaching student Rebecca Gismondo says the new rules will eliminate students studying teaching as a back-up. Picture:Justin Lloyd

However she said universities should give special consideration to people who just missed out and could show teaching was their passion.

The government also supported the report's recommendation to urgently review the effectiveness of its open-plan classroom initiative in schools, with a review to be conducted by next year to "to ensure that facilities are built based on evidence of optimal educational outcomes."

Coogee Boys' Preparatory School principal John Dicks said open-plan learning was not in the best interests of students because it easily made classrooms overly noisy and students struggle to be able to listen.

Coogee Boys' Preparatory School principal John Dicks says they will continue to teach with traditional classrooms. Picture: Toby Zerna
Coogee Boys' Preparatory School principal John Dicks says they will continue to teach with traditional classrooms. Picture: Toby Zerna

"There are some students who love the noise and distractions and can still concentrate but the majority of the boys still struggle with that," he said.

"That element of distraction -it can hinder some learning, it could be detrimental to some students.

"It could be easy for a child to be overlooked in a large environment … if you have a quiet child who drifts into the background, is he going to be overlooked?"

A new report on school classrooms has shown that open plan classroom styles will be reviewed. Yearr 6 teacher Jason Wren-Pattinson in his class. Picture: Toby Zerna
A new report on school classrooms has shown that open plan classroom styles will be reviewed. Yearr 6 teacher Jason Wren-Pattinson in his class. Picture: Toby Zerna

Year 6 teacher Jason Wren-Pattinson said in open classrooms the freedom to move around can be distracting to other students.

"Providing teaching instruction, monitoring student engagement and behaviour becomes much more difficult in a larger open space," he said.

The report also said there will be increased transparency around school performance, with the government supporting the idea of producing a single publication point where parents and citizens can access "system level performance" against new targets on the Education Department's website.

The government stopped short of supporting the report's recommendation to publish comparative school results on a centralised website and also performance pay for principals but supported conducting exit interviews for students who decided to change to another school.

Ms Mitchell agreed to report to parliament every 12 months on the government's performance relating to targets for NSW students' literacy, if disadvantaged schools had been brought up to best practice and if remote and isolated schools were meeting their targets.

Originally published as Government backs better standards for teachers


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