Education Minister Peter Garrett said the proposed reforms were designed to “raise the standard of teacher training” in Australia.
Education Minister Peter Garrett said the proposed reforms were designed to “raise the standard of teacher training” in Australia. Rob Williams

Proposed reforms to ensure 'right' people enter teaching

ASPIRING teachers would need to pass literacy and numeracy tests before graduating under tough new training benchmarks proposed by the Federal Government on Monday.

Under the changes universities would also be required to implement more "rigorous and targeted" admission guidelines - including emotional intelligence testing - to ensure the right people were entering teaching.

Education Minister Peter Garrett said the proposed reforms, which form part of the government's National Plan for School Improvement, were designed to "raise the standard of teacher training" in Australia.

Mr Garrett said the screening process for admission to teaching courses could include "interviews, demonstrated values and aptitude and a written statement".

"I think that they (teachers) do an excellent job, but the fact is universities need to be sure that the people who are putting up their hand to come in and do teaching have got not only the right qualifications but also the additional temperament, commitment, enthusiasm and directed strengths and real desire to do that job," said Mr Garrett, who was joined by Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen in Sydney to announce the plans.

Other key features of the proposal include the adoption of a national approach to teacher practicum and a review of all teaching courses by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

The new measures would be developed and implemented with the help of Universities Australia and course providers, with key stakeholders to be consulted.

Mr Garrett said the need for numeracy and literacy testing was "self-evident" and denied it showed lack of confidence in teachers.

"Well, I think the answer to that is that ministers have already agreed that teachers ought to be in the top 30% in literacy and numeracy nationally," he said.

"This is just a way of making sure that if people come in to teacher training and they're not at that level, then they're tested early enough - and given the instruction by the way - early enough to ensure that by the time they do graduate they are in the top 30% of the population for literacy and numeracy."

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the announcement was a "welcome embrace of part of the Coalition's policies".

"For almost a year, the Coalition has been calling on the Labor government to improve the quality of education that new teachers receive," Mr Pyne said.

It comes less than a week after the New South Wales Government revealed its blueprint for lifting teacher quality.

The sweeping reforms contained in the O'Farrell government's Great Teaching, Inspired Learning plan included lifting entry standards for teaching degrees, literacy and numeracy testing; annual reviews of universities, induction programs for new teachers and additional support during their first year in the classroom, ensuring teachers met national teaching standards and their own school-based performance plans, and making it easier to remove underperforming teachers.