'I don't want people with ATARs of 35 going into teaching': Labor's schools plan
Advertisement

'I don't want people with ATARs of 35 going into teaching': Labor's schools plan

Raising the ATAR required for teaching degrees and rethinking NAPLAN tests will be key areas of focus for Labor if it is elected at the next federal election.

A Shorten government would also rethink automatic grade progression for students and enlist top teachers and principals to lead changes in testing and teaching, Labor's spokeswoman for education Tanya Plibersek said in Sydney on Thursday.

'I don't understand why we have a GAMSAT for entry into medicine but we continue to see lower and lower entry scores for teaching degrees': says Labor's Tanya Plibersek.

'I don't understand why we have a GAMSAT for entry into medicine but we continue to see lower and lower entry scores for teaching degrees': says Labor's Tanya Plibersek.

Photo: Eamon Gallagher

"If elected, a Labor government would appoint a panel of leading teachers and principals ... to lead the work of putting progress at the centre of our education system," Ms Plibersek said.

"We want them to articulate what makes the most difference, what sort of support would help schools and teachers focus more on growth in student learning.

"It has to be led by teachers in the classroom and school leaders and it has to be done in a way that allows other schools and leaders to easily pick up what to learn, and it can't be something that takes an excessive amount of additional data entry or time away from teaching practice."

Advertisement

Ms Plibersek said Labor would also look at raising entry requirements for teaching degrees.

Loading

"I don't want people with ATARs of 35 going into teaching, I just don't," Ms Plibersek said.

"'I couldn't get into anything else so I took on a teaching degree' is not good enough ... there are end-of-degree tests that some systems seem to be using [but we need to be] more selective up front.

"I don't understand why we have a GAMSAT for entry into medicine but we continue to see lower and lower entry scores for teaching degrees."

Ms Plibersek also said that automatic grade progression for struggling students might be failing some children in the long run.

"No child should be progressing unless they've got the reading, the writing, the maths, science, coding," she said.

Labor will look at whether automatic progression to the next year of schooling is hurting struggling students.

Labor will look at whether automatic progression to the next year of schooling is hurting struggling students.

Photo: Michele Mossop

"We know that that culture of low expectations is often concentrated in disadvantaged areas ... it's not good enough to give up on kids.

"At the start of each school year, children arrive with a whole variety of different starting points, capabilities and learning needs and skilled teachers are able to assess, monitor and adapt teaching to ensure those various needs are met.

"That's what extra funding is about, giving the resources to allow that individual attention."

Ms Plibersek said the extra $17 billion over a decade that Labor has put on the table for education will flow mostly to disadvantaged schools, although the party has yet to provide a detailed breakdown of how it would be divided between different systems and states.

Scott Morrison's government is currently canvassing different models to distribute federal funding, including looking at parents' income tax data.

Ms Plibersek said another priority for Labor will be addressing educational inequality and the enormous gaps in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students, which have partly been blamed for the country's falling scores in international tests.

"I don't think we should be content to be around the [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] average when it comes to equity ... I just don't think that's good enough," she said.

Loading

"We'll review the Melbourne Declaration [on Educational Goals for Young Australians] ... we'll have detailed state-by-state progress targets and goals to drive change in our school systems."

Ms Plibersek also reiterated Labor's commitment to reviewing the NAPLAN tests, including what is being tested, how the tests are run and how data is reported.

"I support transparency and accountability but I don't support going forward with the arse-covering collection of information that sometimes goes on," she said.

Continue the conversation at our SMH Student Facebook group.