Major shake up to halve study time for aspiring NSW teachers - Education Matters Magazine
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Major shake up to halve study time for aspiring NSW teachers

The NSW Government will half the study time for aspiring teachers with an undergraduate degree, saying they can enter the classroom after completing a one-year postgraduate course, but the NSW Teachers Federation believes it’s the wrong approach to fixing teacher shortages.

NSW Premier Mr Dominic Perrottet revealed the new policy on 25 January as part of the State Government’s “push to modernise education and make a teaching career a reality sooner” for people already working.

“People at all stages of their lives have the potential to be great teachers, for those who already have an undergraduate degree we want more streamlined approach for them to start a teaching career,” he said.

“Teaching is a profession to aspire to and I don’t want a single person who is considering starting this fantastic career to be deterred by an unnecessary additional year in their training.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Ms Sarah Mitchell said the current two-year Masters degree requirement had disincentivised aspiring teachers, particularly mid-career professionals, and didn’t have a clear enough impact on student outcomes.

“A major barrier for people who already have an undergraduate degree and want to become a teacher is the length of time required to retrain,” Mitchell said.

“Providing a new one-year Masters pathway will enable more mid-career professionals with existing qualifications and experience to bring these to bear in our classrooms. This decision is backed by strong research which shows that the best way for teachers to hit the ground running is to spend more time in schools.”

Under a NSW Liberal and Nationals Government – if re-elected in March – those with an undergraduate degree would be able to complete a one-year full time postgraduate degree to become a secondary school teacher from 2024, with streamlined postgraduate pathways for primary school teachers by 2026.

The government will continue to work with universities and the profession to ensure these new courses are high-quality and prepare trainee teachers for the classroom.

According to the State Government, stakeholders across the sector, including many NSW universities, have called for more bespoke and skill-based Initial Teacher Education (ITE) degrees, especially for mid-career changers. This means that trainee teachers can get in front of a classroom sooner and finish their formal education while employed at a school.

The approach is supported by the findings of a new NSW Productivity Commission report launch released this month.

Workloads and teacher pay real issue, says union  

The NSW Teachers Federation said the move amounted to cutting qualifications and bringing in unqualified teachers – and was the latest in a succession of “damaging and inconsistent policies” that ignore the real causes of teacher shortages.

“The way to stop teacher shortages and creating a sustainable supply of teachers is to address the fundamental problems which are turning people off teaching – unsustainable workloads, uncompetitive salaries and insecure work,” president Mr Angelo Gavrielatos said.

“There were 3,300 vacant permanent positions in schools in November and this is a crisis the government is incapable of fixing. The Federal Government’s Quality Initial Teacher Education Review found that substantially increasing the pay of beginning and senior teachers was the number one way to get more mid-career people into teaching and was far more attractive than a condensed one year qualification (see page 17).”

Gavrielatos said the NSW Government’s own research showed uncompetitive pay is turning people off the profession.

“Unsustainable workloads must also be addressed. We have two thirds of teachers saying they are burnt out and 60 per cent looking to leave in the next five years,” he said.

“Under the Coalition the number of temporary teachers increased by 83 per cent between 2011 and 2021.”

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