Birmingham needs to fund Gonski not Teach for Australia

19 December 2016

The Federal Government’s decision to extend $20 million of funding to Teach for Australia while failing to maintain needs-based Gonski funding beyond 2017 is a sign of its misplaced priorities, the AEU said today.

AEU Deputy Federal President Maurie Mulheron said increased resources were needed in disadvantaged schools, not expensive programs such as Teach for Australia.

“The Federal Government is denying schools $3.8 billion in needs-based Gonski funding in 2018 and 2019 alone. This is a disgraceful decision that will hit disadvantaged schools hardest,” Mr Mulheron said.

“Yet it is able to fund controversial programs such as Teach for Australia, with its high cost per teacher, high dropout rate and lack of evidence of long-term success.

“An Australian Council for Education Research report in 2015 found that TFA was ‘a relatively costly teacher education option for government’.

“Information from the federal Education Department shows TFA had an average cost of $127,000 per graduate, compared with less than $10,000 for standard teacher training courses.

“The dropout rate for Teach for Australia is high, with 50 per cent of its teachers leaving the profession within three years compared with less than 10 per cent of beginning teachers overall.

“Of those TFA graduates who stay, many do not remain in disadvantaged schools.

“Students in our most disadvantaged schools don’t need teachers who are learning on the job, they need fully-qualified teachers rather than six week trainees, and those teachers need extra resources to help their students succeed.

“Gonski funding is already beginning to deliver the in-class support and extra literacy and numeracy programs those students need.

“But we have still seen less than 20 per cent of the overall funding increase the Gonski Review recommended go to our schools. That’s why funding the Gonski agreements right through to 2019 is vital.

“Attracting teachers of high academic ability is important for the future of our schools. But these teachers need to be properly trained before they begin their teaching careers, not thrown into the classroom after six weeks.

“The Federal Government needs to follow the lead of NSW and Victoria and introduce minimum entry standards for teaching courses, to ensure that we are getting students with the academic ability to become successful teachers.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291