Australia’s high quality, hard-working teachers deserve to be supported by teacher registration systems that are consistent and that protect and strengthen the quality of the profession.
Recently, the Turnbull Government announced the details of a national review into teacher registration that will identify the best practices and inconsistencies that exist between different states and territories.
We know it has been an ongoing frustration for teachers that different jurisdictions have different requirements on professional learning for teachers, different ways of assessing suitability for teaching and different processes for registering new teachers.
Ideally, we would also be able to reduce the red tape and make it easier for teachers to transfer between states and territories, just as the Australian Education Union has called for.
The review will consider the registration requirements for vocational education and training teachers in school settings to ensure barriers are not created by inconsistent or different jurisdictional requirements. This in no way means tradies or nurses or people from other fields who are not appropriately qualified should be able to teach in schools, with greatest relevance to the subject being taught.
In truth, this review should ensure the highest possible standards, relevant to the subject that teachers are teaching.
The expert panel tasked with undertaking the review, supported by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, will conduct a comprehensive consultation process over the next two months. They will be seeking stakeholder input through roadshows, group forums and online surveys to make certain this leads to effective and meaningful reform that better supports the teaching profession.
We know there is nothing more important in a school than the quality and capability of teachers and we want the best people for the right jobs. That’s why we’ve undertaken reforms already to strengthen teacher training, to get more expertise, more specialisation into primary schools, and to guarantee the literacy and numeracy skills of those coming out of our universities and entering the profession.
This work builds on a raft of teaching quality reforms we have underway with an unashamed focus on better preparing teachers to be classroom ready.
While development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication and digital skills can be gained through study across a range of disciplines, STEM skills are increasingly important for the jobs of the future. Research suggests that more than half of Australian workers will need to use, configure or build digital systems in the next two to three years.
Having an adequate supply of skilled STEM teachers is critical to ensuring Australian students are well positioned to access the opportunities arising in a globalised and technologically interconnected world and to turn around the plateauing performance we are seeing in these subjects.
One such reform we believe will have an impact on the STEM skills of students is the introduction of a subject specialisation for primary teachers.
From 2019, all initial education students entering a primary teaching course will be required to graduate with a subject specialisation, prioritising areas of employer demand including STEM subjects.
These teachers will graduate as a generalist primary teacher able to teach across the curriculum, but with deeper knowledge and teaching skills in one subject area.
For the existing teacher workforce, we are providing funding to a number of initiatives to support your ongoing professional learning.
This includes Primary Connections which provides access to curriculum resources and professional learning to support the development of students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in both science and literacy.
Teachers can also gain a greater understanding of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies through free massive open online courses with the University of Adelaide and teaching and learning resources on the Digital Technologies Hub.
I look forward to working closely with you in the year ahead as we continue to roll out reforms to improve teacher education and work toward delivering a registration system that better supports teachers.
Simon Birmingham has served as a Liberal Party Senator for South Australia since May 2007 and in September 2015 was appointed to position of Minister for Education and Training.
Simon grew up near Gawler in Adelaide’s north on his family’s small horse agistment property. Simon was educated at government schools before going on to study at the University of Adelaide where he completed a Masters of Business Administration.
Prior to entering the Senate, Simon worked for a number of industry bodies, establishing particular experience in the wine, tourism and hospitality sectors – industries that are critical to South Australia’s prosperity.
After less than three years in the Senate Simon was appointed to the Shadow Ministry, serving as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin and the Environment until the 2013 election.
Following the change of government in 2013 Simon served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, with responsibility for water policy, including the Murray-Darling Basin, National Parks and the Bureau of Meteorology. In 2014 Simon was appointed to serve as the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, with specific responsibility for vocational education, apprenticeships, training and skills. He is now Minister for Education and Training.
He is married to Courtney and has two young daughters, Matilda and Amelia. Simon is an active supporter of the Parliamentary Association for UNICEF and a proud, but sometimes frustrated, Adelaide Crows fan.