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Melbourne University pulls Teach for Australia "criticism"

Date

Jewel Topsfield

Melbourne University has removed a perceived criticism of the controversial Teach for Australia program from its submission to the federal inquiry into teacher education.

Teach for Australia - which fast-tracks non-teaching graduates into disadvantaged schools after six weeks' initial training - complained to the university after quotes from the submission were published in The Age.

The original submission was provided to The Age by the university, which said it had also given permission for the federal inquiry to publish it on its website.

It recommended alternative education programs be welcomed provided there was convincing evidence of their effectiveness and sustainability.

“Programs like Teach for Australia - while five times more expensive than traditional programs - are increasing despite an absence of a reasonable evaluative basis to continue this support,” it said.

The Age understands Teach for Australia was furious following the story in The Age.

Teach for Australia chief executive officer Melodie Potts Rosevear said she was “unfortunately” not in a position to answer questions about the submission.

Melbourne University education dean, Professor Field Rickards, said the copy of the submission given to The Age was a draft version that had mistakenly been identified as the final.

He said the submission now reads: “The rise of alternative programs in teacher education, such as Teach for Australia, should be welcomed, provided there is convincing evaluative evidence of their effectiveness and sustainability”.

Teach for Australia has enjoyed the support of both sides of politics, receiving $34 million from the federal government for the first five cohorts of graduates. One hundred and twenty four have completed the two-year program.

In June federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne announced a $22 million expansion of Teach for Australia.

However the Australian Education Union opposes the program on the grounds it is more expensive than traditional teaching courses, has a high drop-out rate and creates the impression that six weeks' initial training is sufficient to teach in tough classrooms.

Melbourne University was paid more than $8 million by the federal government to run teacher training for Teach for Australia from 2010. However last month it was announced Deakin University won the tender to teach the course from 2015 to 2018.

Professor Rickards said there was no link to the submission and the tender outcome. “We are concerned about perceptions that have no basis. It was unfortunate you were given a draft submission.”

He said the university supported the Teach for Australia program, was proud of its contribution to the first five cohorts of students and was exploring ways to continue its partnership with Teach for Australia in a new capacity.

Teach for Australia graduates, known as associates, are paid to learn on the job while completing a teaching qualification over two years.

They teach for 80 per cent of their time and receive mentoring from other staff at their school and education advisers.

According to the financial statement lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Teach for Australia had a $2.3 million surplus last year. It had $5.3 million in revenue, including $2 million for staff and contractors.

Australian Education Union president Angelos Gavrielatos said the evidence did not support funding Teach for Australia.

“While the government is attempting to walk away from school funding reform we see it continuing to provide funds to a program that is questionable to say the least and is sitting on surpluses of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

In its financial report, Teach for Australia said on average 70 per cent of associates remained teaching beyond the two-year program.

However according to Senate estimates, of the 45 who started in the first cohort in 2010, only 20 are still teaching this year.

For more education stories go to www.facebook.com/theageeducation

3 comments

  • Melbourne University ought to be thoroughly ashamed of its association with what is a half-baked American failure.

    The traditional teacher training method is the only tried and tested format and has served the nation well. Teaching should be a double degree i.e education plus arts/science and there is a considerable body of theory to absorb before students are permitted to undertake teaching or quasi-teaching roles whilst studying.

    Teach for Australia even sounds like a dicky term. I would not recommend Melbourne for an education degree. Try UNE, Sydney, RMIT or Monash for proper education training.

    Commenter
    Elene
    Date and time
    July 31, 2014, 2:20PM
    • Back in the 80's I graduated with a BSc then did a Dip Ed. I was a teacher for 2 years before moving into computing. I changed careers because IT professionals only have to work half as hard and get paid twice as much as teachers. I spent the last 25 years as an IT professional. Last year I decided that I had enough of IT and wanted to move back into teaching.

      I mistakenly assumed that I would be welcomed with open arms, I assumed that my commercial IT experience combined with my maths/science teaching experience would mean that the state Education department would be keen to hire me. Instead I was faced with massive indifference and a long series of bureaucratic hurdles.

      Eventually I gave up and took another IT contract (which pays about 50% more than the equivalent teaching contract).

      There's a message for someone there, but I can't find anyone in the Victorian Education department who gives enough of a damn to listen.

      Commenter
      Merc
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 6:13PM
      • Teach for Australia. Axe the tax. Stop the Boats. Paid Parental Leave. Work for the dole. Ditch the Witch.
        These are three (or four) word slogans, they are not what are traditionally called "policies" or "programs" and should not be judged as such. They do not come with much in the way of background research, planning, relevant resourcing or perceived medium or long term results / consequences. They did not need consultation with anybody with relevant experience, knowledge or opinions of their own.
        They are designed to be launched, announced, spoken of during Question Time and publicised. Beyond this, they are not actually plans, and should not judged accordingly. Go easy.

        Commenter
        Peter
        Location
        frankston
        Date and time
        August 03, 2014, 10:17AM
        Comments are now closed
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