Raising the status of the teaching profession

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Federation is alert to the threat of de-professionalising teachers and is taking action to defeat this agenda

Federation believes high entry standards into university teacher education courses, high standards of qualifications and accreditation, and high standards of teaching practice are essential to lifting the status of the teaching profession into the future.

By interconnecting and fortifying high standards in each of these domains, Federation aims to heighten the public consciousness about the importance of high quality teaching and learning to our children’s futures, and engender greater esteem for the teaching profession across our society.

Protecting high standards is crucial, especially at a time when governments and employing authorities in other educational jurisdictions around the world are lowering or abandoning the employment requirement of a university level teaching qualification. For example, a person now can be employed to teach in a UK public school without a teaching degree or diploma.

Even in Australia, the federal Coalition went to the last election with a policy stating that “current national accreditation standards do not allow anyone without a discipline-specific qualification to enter a postgraduate teacher education course… (and that) these restrictions have limited the number of people able to participate in independent programmes like Teach for Australia…” (The Coalition’s Policy for Schools: Students First, August 2013)

“Teach for Australia" is the scheme that recruits people from faculties other than education and appoints them to a classroom teaching position after only six weeks training. The Coalition’s policy goes on to lament that states such as NSW will not recognise “Teach for Australia” graduates as meeting the accreditation standards needed to become a teacher.

There is a reason why governments and education employers would promote the idea that anyone can teach. Deregulating qualifications and de-professionalising teachers’ work enables an employer to reduce salaries in line with the lowered professional status they seek to create. Federation is alert to this threat and is taking action to defeat this agenda.

Federation supports lifting the entry requirements for a university teacher education course to at least three HSC Band 5s (80+ marks), one of which must be in English. For those seeking entry via pathways other than secondary school HSC studies, Federation believes an equivalent high academic standard should apply.

Some university spokespersons have argued against this approach, claiming that high HSC results do not guarantee a good teacher. This is specious and self-serving.

Federation acknowledges there are many attributes, qualities, talents and skills that make a good teacher, but requiring these in addition to high academic achievement, rather than instead of it, is surely the worthier approach.

By embedding the standards of the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) into both the salary scale of the current salaries and conditions award (2014-2016) and the new Performance and Development Framework, Federation is fortifying the protection of teaching qualifications and standards, and building a stronger foundation for lifting the status of the profession into the future.

This aims to pave the way for higher salaries that justly value the teaching profession’s contribution to the education of individual students, the wellbeing of our society and the prosperity of our nation.