Teaching graduates all trained up with nowhere to go

by Robert Ballantyne13 Jul 2016

NSW universities are producing more teaching graduates than the state’s school system is able to accommodate, figures show.

The number of non-permanent teachers has grown by more than 3,000 in just two years, a report by the NSW Education Department shows.

However, it is estimated that there are currently 47,000 qualified teachers in NSW who are unable to secure a permanent job in the state’s schools.

This has prompted concerns that the lack of experienced teachers in NSW classrooms may be hurting the quality of education in the state’s classrooms.

In February, the state’s Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, warned that an oversupply of underperforming teaching graduates meant that a cap on the number of student teachers might be necessary to address the issue.  

“Where there are a limited number of places or jobs available, they should be capping places. Why are we training all of these people when the majority of them won't get jobs?” Piccoli said.

Piccoli’s comments came amid revelations that some graduates have entered teacher degree courses with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) as low as the 60s.

To stunt the surge, students leaving school for a teaching career are now required to have a mark of 80 or higher in three HSC subjects, including English – however many teachers believe it could take up to five years before the benefits are seen in schools.

But while the change will disqualify thousands of would-be teachers who fail to meet the benchmark, educators believe it will take four to five years before benefits are seen in schools.

Supply projections up to 2022 show potential teacher shortages in mathematics, science with physics, some subjects in technological and applied studies, some specialist teachers and in specific subjects in isolated areas.

The 2015 NSW Education Department’s Teaching Workforce Supply and Demand report warned that a decreasing supply of mathematics teachers in particular across all areas of the state was having a negative impact.

“Between 2006 and 2012 Creative Arts had more than twice the number of graduates as Mathematics, an area of potential shortage in the majority of years,” the report stated.

“The NSW Government is continuing to pursue closer collaboration with the Federal Government and universities to better manage teacher graduate supply and for more effective alignment with areas of teacher need.”

Improved Mathematics outcomes in schools are a significant part of a greater drive to boost Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools.

This drive is also aligned with the Federal Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, which aims to skill youth in order to prepare them for the 21st century workforce and boost Australia’s economic competitiveness on the world stage.

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