Primary school teachers to become maths, science ‘specialists’

by The Educator19 Jan 2015

All new primary school teachers may soon need to obtain a specialisation as part of a Government push to improve Australia’s international rankings in the disciplines of maths, science and foreign languages.

Our maths students have fallen to 19th place on international rankings, and 16th place in science, raising concerns that current primary teaching degrees are not giving graduate teachers the skills or confidence to effectively teach those subjects.

The Government’s proposed shake-up is among the recommendations of a report by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, due to be released by Education Minister Christopher Pyne next month.
However, the Australian Primary Principals Association president Dennis Yarrington argues that replacing generalised teaching with specialist teaching may stunt the learning experience of students.
“We would be very concerned if a primary teacher was a specialist in maths and that was all they could teach,” Yarrington said.
“Teachers should be able to come out of university and teach the primary curriculum.”
The proposed changes by the Government, if implemented, could see primary school systems become more like high schools with individual teachers for different subjects.
Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s head of Teacher Education, Stephen Dinham, threw his support behind the idea in September 2014, arguing that the “academic and social welfare expectations” on the generalist primary teacher had made the role increasingly untenable. 

Dinham elaborated in his article titled: Is it time for specialist maths and science teachers in the primary classroom?

“A point has been reached where a degree of specialisation needs to be introduced to primary teaching,” Dinham proposed.
“As maths and science specialist teachers enter primary teaching this will enable other generalist teachers to specialise more through being released from some of their present, subject-based responsibilities.” 
Do you think that making all primary school teachers specialists will help improve Australia’s maths and science rankings?


  • by JoeCitizen 19/01/2015 10:05:39 AM

    Absolutely! Our students are falling behind in these areas compared with our regional neighbours. This will not only promote a bit of healthy competition, it will help our students excel in these areas when they reach high school.

  • by 19/01/2015 11:21:59 AM

    Primary school teachers are experts across all areas of the curriculum. If you were in the classroom you would know this. The problem with Australia's standing across the world lies solely with the desperate need for our governments to follow broken trends and systems from the US and UK and ignore the top of the PISA ladder countries and their educational reforms. The over crowded curriculum doesn't help. We need to give back some of the teaching responsibility to the parents. School's have 25 hours a week teaching time. Look at the recommended times for teaching each KLA and then do the math. It just doesn't add up!

  • by 19/01/2015 12:12:33 PM

    I am a teacher and supervise staff, I know that many new teachers are not strong in maths and science, specialist help is needed a what is taught and how well it is taught can differ vastly from classroom to classroom. It is impossible to be an expert at all KLAs no matter what anyone says.