Federal government announces new plans to support teachers

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday December 3, 2019

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The federal government will introduce a range of measures to support teachers following a report revealing the challenges Australian teachers and principals face compared to their international counterparts.

The latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey has found Australian teachers deal with levels of intimidation and verbal abuse higher than the OECD average, while their already hefty workload has gone up.

The survey collects data on the learning environment and working conditions of teachers globally every five years. The most recent results came from 31 OECD countries and economies and 17 partner countries or economies. In Australia, a sample of 3573 teachers and 230 principals of lower secondary students, and 3030 teachers and 223 principals of primary students, completed the survey.

The report showed teachers needed more support in the classroom to improve student outcomes, according to the Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

“Teachers are an essential part of a high-quality education and have the biggest impact on a student’s success,” he said.

He said a review to cut red tape for teachers “so they can focus on teaching and not paperwork” was underway, and the government has been developing a national strategy to address abuse of teachers.

“I’m also working with my state and territory counterparts on a national teacher workforce strategy that will help us understand and respond to existing and future challenges,” he added.

“Our government will also establish a national institute to build a strong evidence-base to help improve teaching practice and we’re going to make better use of the data we collect to drive improvements in teaching practice, school systems and our policies.”

He noted more rigorous selection requirements, mandatory literacy and numeracy tests, and teaching performance assessments would also prepare future teachers for the classroom.

Some positives in the report included the finding that despite digital resource shortages, Australian classrooms were the third largest users of ICT out of the surveyed countries, behind Denmark and New Zealand.

It also found 45% of Australian teachers believed their profession was valued by society, up from 39% in 2013. This was significantly higher than the OECD average of 26%. However, it was lower than reported in Finland (58%) and Singapore (72%).

For a limited time, new annual subscribers to Mandarin Premium can get a free copy of Alan Reid’s ‘Changing Australian Education: how policy is taking us backwards and what we can do about it‘.

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