High achieving students would get up to $12,000 a year to study for an education degree and then work in regional parts of Australia under a plan from Labor it says will boost teacher numbers and standards across the country.
In the second last week of the May 21 election campaign, Labor leader Anthony Albanese will announce on Monday a $146.5 million plan that also includes encouraging 1500 qualified professionals to leave fields such as mathematics and hard science and go into the nation’s schoolrooms.
Anthony Albanese on the campaign trail in Sydney on Sunday. Today he will promise $146m towards improving teacher quality.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Education has so far barely registered during an election campaign dominated by the cost of living, foreign affairs and post-Covid recovery issues.
But on Monday, Labor will turn its focus to an area it says has been neglected under the government of Scott Morrison, claiming Australian students are falling behind their peers in countries such as South Korea, China, Britain and the United States.
Despite state and federal government efforts to improve the quality of teachers, the number of students with an ATAR over 80 going into education degrees has collapsed to 3.3 per cent, compared to 30 per cent in the early 1990s. Schools are also facing a teacher shortage of up to 4000 positions by 2025.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese will on Monday promise to double the number of high achievers studying education over the next decade, from about 1800 now to 3600 a year.
To do this, a Labor government would pay $10,000 a year to 5000 students with an ATAR over 80 to study an education degree. Most courses are four years long.
For those students who commit to teaching in a regional area, they will receive $12,000.
Albanese said if the number of high achievers studying education was doubled, the average student could gain between an extra 6 to 12 months of learning by Year 9.
Labor will also promise to boost the High Achieving Teachers Program to support 1500 qualified professionals to leave their specialities and learn to become teachers.
These people will retrain as part-time teachers’ aides while undertaking a master’s degree in education.
NSW teachers protesting for better pay in NSW last week.Credit:Jenny Evans
The extra 1500 places will include 700 new Teach for Australia teachers and 60 new teachers through La Trobe University’s Nexus program. The places will be on top of Labor’s promise to provide 20,000 extra university positions.
Albanese said the programs were aimed at ensuring the education system had high quality teaching.
“We want to make sure our kids get the best education they can. That means we have to make sure they get the best quality teaching,” he said.
“Labor’s plan will incentivise the best graduates to join the teaching profession, leading to a brighter future for our students and for the nation.”
Albanese will also promise that Labor would use school funding negotiations with the states and territories to develop a “better career path” for teachers.
He said this could include higher pay and more responsibility for “elite” teachers who may be literacy or numbers specialists.
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