Announced as part of the federal budget, the High Achieving Teachers Program will provide an alternative route into teaching for professionals with specific qualifications and skills that are attractive to schools.The government is inviting proposals from tertiary providers to assist up to 200 candidates to become qualified and be ready to teach by 2020 - effectively halving the training time compared to a traditional Bachelor of Education degree.
The program, for which funding has not been disclosed for commercial reasons, is likely to rankle the teachers' union, which has complained that fast-tracking programs risks devaluing the profession.It comes, however, at a time of increased concern about the quality of teaching in Australian schools, amid the nation's declining performance in literacy, maths and science on a range of global education surveys.
The program, flagged earlier this year when the government announced a national review of teacher registration, builds on the work of Teach for Australia, which has so far placed 676 teacher associates into 155 schools and is funded until 2021.The government has also reiterated its support for the recommendations of the latest Gonski review, which was handed down last week to a lukewarm reception, promising to work with the states and territories to deliver reforms, including an overhaul of the national curriculum to "deliver at least one year's growth in learning in every student every year" and an online learning and assessment tool for teachers to better track student progress. Reforms are set to be linked to an extra $24.5 billion the government has previously promised to deliver schools by 2027.
"Every student deserves support that suits his or her needs," said Education Minister Simon Birmingham. "That's why this budget confirms the Coalition's new schools funding plan that started this year will boost our investment in schools by $1bn every year for the next decade." While the commonwealth is not expected to sign long-term funding agreements with the states and territories until September at the earliest, it has allocated a further $2.35 million for the public advertising of its "needs-based funding reform", taking its total communications budget to $6.1m over two years.Under the reform, commonwealth support for government schools - which are largely funded by the states and territories - will rise to $7.7bn in 2018-19. Support for nongovernment schools, including independent and Catholic schools, will rise to $11.8bn. By 2021-22 funds will rise to $9.7bn for the government sector and $13.8bn for the non-government sector.
As previously reported in The Australian, the government has budgeted $247m to extend the national school chaplaincy program for a further four years.
The contentious program will have an enhanced focus on bullying prevention in the wake of several high-profile suicides.
From: The Australian, Australia by Rebecca Urban
09 May 2018