Labor’s tough stand on low teaching ATARs is welcome

6 January 2019

A call for universities to strengthen entry requirements for teaching degrees is an essential step in ensuring that we set a high bar for entry into the teaching profession.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe today welcomed a call by Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek for universities to raise their standards when recruiting students for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) degrees.

“The high proportion of students with ATARs under 70 being admitted into teaching degrees is a warning sign that we need to do more to recruit and train the best candidates to teach our students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Low university entry scores for teaching degrees is a growing issue. We know that students admitted with low ATARs are less likely to continue with their course, and there is a clear correlation between ATAR scores and success at university.”

“We want to have confidence that when teaching students finish their Initial Teacher Education course they are well prepared to meet the graduate standard,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This means they need to spend their time at university developing and understanding the curriculum and their skills to teach students, not focusing on personal remedial programs such as literacy and numeracy support.”

Ms Haythorpe said teacher training standards had to be raised by setting minimum entry requirements across the nation and by making teaching a two-year post-graduate degree.

“Australian universities should follow the lead of high performing school systems such as those in Singapore and Finland, where they recruit from only the top 30 per cent of students and set a high bar for university entrants into teaching courses,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The AEU welcomes Ms Plibersek’s focus on strengthening Initial Teacher Education. It is clear that she is serious about addressing the issue, and we look forward to working with Labor to determine the strategies required to make this happen.”