Labor’s plan to boost teaching stirs controversy

Labor’s plan to boost teaching stirs controversy

Federal Labor wants to limit teaching degrees to the top 30% of high school graduates, but education authorities have slammed the idea.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said universities should increase entry cut-off marks to improve competition and reverse a “a very worrying trend”.

Plibersek said entry should be restricted to the top 30% of Year 12 graduates, who score an ATAR of about 80.

“What is troubling me is that a few years ago a third of people who went into teaching had an ATAR of 80 or above. Now it’s only a fifth,” Plibersek said.

“We’re going backwards.

Plibersek said Australia “cannot afford to continually dumb down” teaching degrees and enrol people “who will never be competent teachers”.

“We are doing a disservice to the profession as a whole if we continue on this path,” she said.

However, the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) said that while raising the teaching status should be welcomed, there are holes in Labor’s plan.

“A threat to mandate a cap on ATARS of 80 may sound like a quick fix but, in reality, fewer than one in four students are chosen on the basis of their ATAR alone,” ACDE president Professor, Tania Aspland, said in a statement.

“There is no evidence to show that those with higher ATARs become better teachers as non-academic traits are also vitally important in teaching quality.”