The severe teacher shortage has prompted the federal government to consider radical reforms to get more people to take up the profession or stay longer.
Most important points:
- Federal government plans to give 40 percent pay rise to some senior teachers
- Under the plan, professionals who want to retrain as teachers can be paid to learn on the job
- The Australian Education Union said wage increases are needed across the board
Under a plan to be presented at an emergency meeting of federal, state and territory ministers of education next week, senior teachers could receive a pay rise, while professionals who want to retrain as teachers could be paid to learn on the job.
But a pay rise would not be for everyone. So-called “master teacher” or higher education positions would receive a 40 percent pay increase.
With more kids in school than ever before, but fewer people queuing up to become teachers, Federal Education Secretary Jason Clare said it was time for a stir.
“It’s serious and it’s getting worse,” he said.
“It’s not just because of the flu, not just because of COVID. It’s bigger than that.”
He said paid teaching internships are on the table for professionals from other sectors pursuing a two-year master’s degree in education.
“It’s a good idea to let people who are already in the workforce — mid-career professionals — make the transition to the classroom.”
“If you can get people with qualifications in the class, that’s a good thing.”
Wage increases ‘across the board’ needed, union says
Mr Clare admitted that higher pay would be a big shift but said it would be up for debate.
“One thing is for sure, we are not going to solve this problem by doing the same thing over and over,” he said.
“We need to look for new ideas that will help not only solve the teacher shortage, but also improve the performance of our children.”
As for paying for the changes, Mr Clare said the state and federal governments should “work together”.
Australian Education Union vice president Meredith Peace said the paid internship option could work.
She said that people with experience in other careers already benefited the students in the classroom.
But she wasn’t convinced by the idea of master teachers with big pay rises, because a pay rise would be fairer for all teachers.
“I don’t think it’s a solution to pick a small group of people and give them a significant pay increase,” she said.
“This is a much more complex issue than that. We need good career structures that reward high-performing teachers who want to stay in the classroom.
“We need to ensure decent salaries across the board.”