Motive: Mr Piccoli said savings were not the aim. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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The NSW Board of Studies and the NSW Institute of Teachers will be merged to create a single new statutory authority with the aim of improving teacher quality and student outcomes, in a major shake-up to be pursued by the O'Farrell government.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said a desire to use assessment data and knowledge of the curriculum to drive improvements in the standards of teaching was central to the creation of the new Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BoSTES), which will begin operation next year provided his legislation is endorsed by both houses of Parliament.
Mr Piccoli said the merger, which has already been approved by cabinet, was not driven by a requirement to make budgetary efficiencies or job cuts, but was motivated by educational outcomes, and that any savings would remain with the new board.
Stakeholders representing the school sectors have been broadly supportive of the proposal, though the union representing teachers said it would monitor developments closely to ensure there was no erosion of support for their profession over time.
The functions of both organisations would be maintained, but the expertise of each would be shared.
Tom Alegounarias, president of the Board of Studies, would become president of the new organisation. He said the amalgamation would allow critical information gained via school assessments, such as the HSC or NAPLAN, to directly inform the training and professional development of teachers.
''We can identify exactly out of the HSC the proportions of students who are taking on say, Japan, in modern history,'' he said, offering an example of how the single organisation would function.
''One of the limits on how many people study Japan rather than the Soviet revolution, which is extremely popular, is how many teachers have the knowledge.
''So that information could inform universities and ongoing professional development, supporting teachers to build knowledge to actually get kids to learn about Japan. There's currently no pipeline for that - back to the professional associations, back to the universities.''
Similarly, he said, assessment data showing weakness in areas of grammar among children could be used to better train teachers in instructing in that particular area.
The NSW Institute of Teachers is responsible for registering and accrediting teachers, as well as approving teacher education courses and endorsing professional learning. It collects registration fees from teachers, which would remain separate from the general budget of the new body.
Geoff Newcombe, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, emphatically endorsed the proposal, saying the ''structure of education in NSW had never been stronger''.
The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, said there was an ''apparent commonsense in aligning the functions of those bodies''.