Former principal backs teacher training review

A RETIRED Tamworth principal has welcomed the announcement of a far-reaching review into teacher training and education degrees, but said increasing minimal entry scores was not necessarily the answer.

CHANGES: Retired principal Anne Jacob would like to see education students undertake more practical experience earlier in their degrees. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 200214GOE02

Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced the investigation, which will examine university course content, teacher education methods and training opportunities, on Wednesday, effectively thrusting teacher quality into the spotlight.

Former Tamworth West Primary School principal Anne Jacob said attaining a high ATAR score did not guarantee a student would become a successful teacher.

“Just because you score 98 does not mean you are going to be a good teacher,” she said.

“I think there needs to be greater input from practising teachers in these courses … and the whole issue of child development, classroom management and education needs to be looked at holistically and not as individual things.”

She said schools often drew unfair criticism and were unrealistically expected to “fix all society’s woes”.

“Our elected representatives should understand the extra roles schools now fulfil and look at ways to address some of the societal issues that schools are the frontline for, but that are not their core business,” Mrs Jacob said.

“No one has ever increased the school day. In all my time teaching, nothing has ever been removed from the curriculum, only added.”

She said in her opinion it was crucial education students begin practical experience early on – in the first semester – and universities take more credence from school reports outlining the abilities of a student who has undertaken a practicum.

The review, which will be undertaken by an eight-member advisory panel lead by Australian National University vice-chancellor Greg Craven, is expected to be concluded by the middle of the year.

In an opinion piece written for Fairfax Media, Mr Pyne questioned the resistance by some universities in implementing more stringent entry requirements or changing course content and suggested in some instances standards were too low.

“There is evidence our teacher education system is not up to scratch,” the minister said.

“We are not attracting the top students into teacher courses as we once did, courses are too theoretical, ideological and faddish (and) not based on evidence of what works in teaching important subjects like literacy.”

His state counterpart, Adrian Piccoli, called for the review to examine whether all teachers should have post-graduate qualifications before entering classrooms.

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