Teacher quality: now we have your attention, it’s time for real debate

Governments need to look beyond Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores if they want to lift teacher quality, Catholic Education Melbourne Executive Director Stephen Elder says. 

‘This week Victorian Education Minister James Merlino announced undergraduate teaching courses would only be open from 2019 to school leavers with an ATAR score above 70,’ Mr Elder said, ‘but there’s another debate we need to be having.  

‘If we want to attract the best and the brightest school leavers to teaching – and keep them – we also need to talk about teacher pay.   

‘Starting teachers are among the highest paid graduates one year out from university. 

‘After 10 years they are among the lowest. 

‘This clearly has an impact on the attractiveness of teaching as a career and teacher retention rates.’ 

‘Mr Merlino, his New South Wales counterpart, Adrian Picolli, and other policy makers who are emphasising ATAR results need to acknowledge the broader elements of teacher quality. 

‘Interest groups in the education dispute must also be open about the implications of their stands. 

‘We hear much from the Australian Education Union (AEU) about the benefits of smaller class sizes, yet at the same time research by John Hattie at the Melbourne Educational Research Institute indicates that the effect of cutting class sizes from 25 to 30 students to 15 to 20 students – a costly policy – is only minimally beneficial. 

‘The AEU and similar groups need to understand that both increased salaries and lower class sizes are unachievable as their impact on state government budgets would be unsustainable.’ 

Mr Elder reiterated his commitment to the highest standards in schools. 

‘We all want quality teachers and the best possible outcomes for students. 

‘That means we need to acknowledge that there is no quick fix, no one silver bullet but instead a process that recognises and rewards resilience, personality and a passion to pursue a career in education, extending beyond the final year of school and university into the classroom and beyond.’ 


For further information contact Christian Kerr, Media Adviser on 0402 977 352 or 9267 4411 

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