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To raise status of teaching, Australia needs to lift pay and cut teacher numbers

Barry McGaw writes in The Conversation (2.9.16) about school teaching standards in Australia, arguing that increased pay rates and more selective entrance requirements for teacher training need to be part of a new approach.

‘There are many calls to raise the status of teaching, but few concrete proposals of how it might be done. There are two strategies that could work, given the way they work with other professions.

‘One is to make entry to initial teacher education more selective. The other is to make membership of the teaching profession more selective.

‘The reputations of university courses are substantially influenced by the quality of students admitted and, in particular, the minimum Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) with which a student can gain entry.

‘But the minimum entry scores to many Australian teacher education programs are low. The percentage of offers for courses in teacher education to students with an ATAR above 70 has been dropping significantly, down to 42% in 2015.

‘We need to have fewer teachers, and to pay them more on scales differentiated by skill and role into “graduate”, “proficient”, “highly accomplished” and “lead” as the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership has proposed. We also need to have more restricted entry into teacher education programs.

‘The result will be a more skilled and higher status teaching profession and an overall greater impact from the same cost or even a reduction in cost.’

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