The Australian Education Union has blasted the Abbott government for appointing a vocal critic of minimum entry scores for education degrees to lead its review into teacher training.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced on Wednesday morning that Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven will chair the government's review into teacher training.
Teacher training review
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Teacher training review
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has launched a ministerial advisory group to review teacher training programs at universities.
Mr Craven has previously said that ''university cut-offs are as easy to rig as a bush picnic race meeting'' and rejected NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli's call for all teaching students to have an ATAR of at least 70.
AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos said Mr Craven's views compromise the review before it begins.
"We stand on the side of rigour and strong standards - Greg Craven stands for something different to that.''
He said the fact Mr Craven's university enrols students with an ATAR as low as 50 makes him ''part of the problem, not the solution".
The AEU wants the review to consider setting minimum ATAR entry standards for teaching degrees.
Mr Craven denied that his position at the ACU poses a conflict of interest and said he was prepared to take on the unions over minimum entry standards.
''I would say to the unions: if they succeed in restricting entry to teaching amid a high number of retirements then they are advocating a shortage of teachers and massively increased class sizes,'' he said.
''I find it fascinating to see an element of the industrial sector lining up against diversity and more lower socio-economic students coming into education. I am happy to have that debate.''
Speaking in Adelaide today, Mr Pyne said he believed teacher quality was the most important factor in improving student outcomes, ahead of a rigorous curriculum and school autonomy.
"For a long time the anecdotal evidence, surveys and results have shown that neither the students coming out of university, the principals who are employing them or the year 12 students choosing teaching are happy or satisfied with the offerings at university," he said.
He said he wanted teacher training to involve more experience in school classrooms rather than in university lectures and tutorials.
An independent consultant will also be engaged to conduct a benchmarking study of the world's best teacher education programs and compare them to Australia's.
The advisory panel also includes University of Melbourne Dean of Education Field Rickards, University of Wollongong Deputy Vice-Chancellor Eeva Leinonen, Grattan Institute school education program director Ben Jensen, and maths education expert Kim Beswick.
John Fleming, deputy principal at independent Victorian school Haileybury, and Trevor Fletcher, principal of the Eastern Fleurieu School in South Australia, will also sit on the panel.