Regional students to suffer under move to fast track teachers from other careers

Fast tracking tradies into teaching to address skills shortages would disadvantage regional students who lag behind their city counterparts, the education union president says. 

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe slammed the Turnbull government’s move to fast track professionals into teaching saying it was an insult and “scatter gun mad idea”.

No deal: Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe does not support a move to fast track professionals into teaching.

No deal: Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe does not support a move to fast track professionals into teaching.

“We don’t believe that fast tracking people into our schools is a good deal for country schools,” Ms Haythorpe said. “We actually want to attract highly qualified and highly experienced people who are fully registered into country locations.”

She said there was a “significant body of evidence” about achievement gaps between regional, rural and remote students, compared to those in the city.

“We think it’s more important to have qualified fully trained people in the country because we want to deliver a high quality curriculum. 

“That also means making sure they’ve got access to a broad curriculum, not only focusing on the foundations, but that they have access to the arts, dramas and sciences that are freely available in a city location.”

She welcomes people with different skills and experience but said they had to complete the four or five years of study required to become a teacher.

She said while there was an issue in attracting and retaining staff in country locations, recruiting lesser qualified people was not the answer.

Ms Haythorpe said children deserved fully trained teachers and parents and school communities deserved to know teachers had the appropriate training.“It’s a very complex and demanding job.”

She said rather than a quick fix, it was important to “conduct proper workplace supply and demand analysis” to determine the salary and conditions needed to encourage people to take up a country placement. 

The Turnbull government launched a national review of teacher registration on Saturday to help tackle key inconsistencies in systems across the country.

One of its aims was to explore how school systems could make it easier for people with specialist or real-world skills to become teachers at schools and vocational colleges. 

"Students need to learn from people from all walks of life," he said. "Those different life experiences could shake up Australia's schools and add more depth to the talented teachers we have."

Ms Haythorpe disagreed and said the union would raise it with Minister Birmingham and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership who is conducting the review. 

“There will be a lot of people around the country who will be working to make sure this is an idea that never sees daylight,” she said. 

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