The Turnbull government wants to encourage tradies to become teachers, and nurses to swap the clinic for the classroom, under a plan to "shake up" the country's schools.
A national review of teacher registration - to be announced Saturday - will look to streamline the process for becoming a teacher around Australia, with a view to making it easier for people in trades and other professions to switch careers.At present, most states require teachers to attain at least a diploma of education, if not an undergraduate teaching degree - but it depends on what type of teacher someone seeks to become.
Teachers also need to reregister at least once every five years, and demonstrate ongoing suitability, classroom hours and professional development - but the requirements vary from state to state.Education Minister Simon Birmingham said it should be easier for people with experience in specialist areas to teach those trades at schools and vocational colleges.
"Students need to learn from people from all walks of life," he said. "Those different life experiences could shake up Australia's schools and add more depth to the talented teachers we have."In particular, Senator Birmingham said former tradies and builders - "who might want to hang up the work boots and get into a classroom" - would help open students' minds about their postschool options.
"Many people with the skills to build houses also have skills to build knowledge in certain subject areas," he said. "There is no doubt that tradies who have done the hard yakka on the construction site could bring new skills and a different perspective that could be invaluable for student learning."The review will be led by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership under deputy chair Chris Wardlaw, who is tasked with examining whether current registration requirements impose excessive barriers to entry into the teaching profession.
Signed off by the Education Council, which includes Senator Birmingham and state education ministers, the review will also try to eliminate inconsistencies between states.The government already helps fund programs aimed at encouraging young professionals to try their hand in the classroom, such as the well-known Teach for Australia, which sends outstanding graduates into disadvantaged schools.
Australia's falling position on global literacy and numeracy rankings, as well as disappointing NAPLAN results, have worried education ministers.
In 2016 the council toughened the test for prospective teachers by requiring them to place in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.
While this review will not rehash teacher standards, it will consider how the standards can be better embedded in the registration process to strengthen teacher quality.
"The thing that makes the biggest difference to students is great teaching," said AITSL chief executive Lisa Rodgers. "Our teachers deserve to get the same level of support and development, no matter which state or territory they live in."
As well as differing procedures on background checks, it can be onerous for teachers to transfer registration between states.
The Saturday Age, Melbourne by Michael Koziol
10 Feb 2018
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