The Federal Government has announced a plan to fast-track teachers with sought-after skills into classrooms and fund for the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) on a permanent basis.
The commitment was made during last night’s 2018 Budget, delivered by Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison.
Following Morrison’s address, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the government has committed $247m over four years to continue the work of the NSCP, providing continued support for approximately 3,000 schools to employ a chaplain.
“Under the renewed program, school chaplains will also be required to upgrade their skills by undertaking cyber-bullying training provided by the eSafety Commissioner and continue to support community involvement in the school,” Birmingham said.
Following the success of programs like Teach for Australia to accelerate high-achievers from other fields into the education system, the Federal Government said it will also take steps to support the growth of alternative pathways into the teaching profession and support areas of workforce shortage.
“The High Achieving Teachers program will help attract up to 200 highly skilled people into the teaching profession from a range of fields and support the education needs of students in areas where there may be shortages of educators,” Birmingham said.
“Aspiring teachers with sought-after skills will be fast-tracked into classrooms in disadvantaged schools in as little as two years, under a program aimed at boosting teaching quality and lifting student outcomes.”
The program will provide an alternative route into teaching for professionals with specific qualifications and skills that are attractive to schools.
The government is inviting proposals from tertiary providers to assist up to 200 candidates to become qualified and be ready to teach by 2020 – effectively halving the training time compared to a traditional Bachelor of Education degree.
The Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) has welcomed the government’s renewal of the NSCP, saying it has proven to be a popular program in many Independent schools.
“The Chaplaincy Program is a distinctive program that provides care and support to students, staff and families,” ISCA executive director, Colette Colman, said.
ISCA also welcomed the School Chaplaincy Program’s enhanced focus on addressing bullying.
“While awareness of bullying has come a long way, there is still much important work to do to reduce its incidence and support students dealing with bullying, particularly with the growth of digital devices and cyber bullying. The Chaplaincy Program will provide a valuable addition to schools’ anti-bullying efforts,” Colman said.
However, the Australian Education Union (AEU) said the government’s pledge to permanently fund the NSCP comes at the expense of needy public schools.
“These funds are desperately needed in our schools to provide professional school counselling services, ongoing professional development for principals and teachers and student well-being programs,” Haythorpe said.