Australia’s education minister is playing down calls for an increase in education funding as a way to boost student results.
Alan Tudge is pushing for better recruitment practices to hire more qualified teachers, pointing to the United Kingdom (UK) as an example to follow.
“In the past decade, the UK has cut per-child school funding by 9 percent in real terms, while also giving principals more freedom over management decisions such as setting staff pay,” Tudge told The Age.
Meanwhile in Australia, Tudge said results from the country’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) fell, despite a 38 percent increase in funding over the last decade. PISA is an international assessment measure of student performance across the world.
The government however had no plans to cut spending, saying federal education funding was “locked-in” until the end of the next decade.
A teacher education review launched in April is looking at how to bolster the ranks of the teaching profession.
“The recommendations of this review will help ensure we attract high-quality, motivated candidates into teaching and develop them into teachers with the skills our students need,” Tudge said.
“We want the finest students choosing to be teachers, and we also want to make it easier for accomplished mid and late-career individuals to transition into the profession, bringing their extensive skills and knowledge into our school classrooms,” he said. The first public discussion paper will be released in June.
Jenny Gore, director of the University of Newcastle’s Teachers and Teaching Research Centre, said this focus was not enough.
Gore said that ongoing professional development and respect for the work of existing teachers was just as vital as training and development.
“It is the refinement of teaching practice through professional development, the building of teaching capacity, that is the most important element of reform,” she wrote in The Australian Financial Review.
“Just as supporting learners in classrooms is often about building their confidence, the same can be said for teachers, even experienced ones.”