Research has consistently shown that the best way of improving school education is to improve the quality of teaching. This is an urgent task in NSW where school results have been going backwards compared to other countries and other parts of Australia.
Earlier this month, prior to the start of the school year, I released a policy for lifting the status and quality of the State’s teaching profession: measuring teacher performance and paying them accordingly; salary bonuses of up to $50,000 for high-quality teachers; removing under-performing teachers from the system; and lifting teacher training qualifications and attainment.
Today I am releasing further measures to get the very best people into the profession and to improve teaching methods in NSW. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation has no higher priority for the State than turning around the decline in teacher quality and classroom results.
Better Teachers for Better Schools
Due to the dominance of the NSW Teachers Federation in determining policy under both Labor and Coalition Governments, the full merit selection of teachers has not been implemented. NSW is not getting the best available teachers into the classroom – a betrayal of students’ interests.
One Nation will ensure all teacher vacancies are treated as ‘merit positions’, that is, advertised and subject to merit-based selection. Currently, only 50 percent of government school vacancies are treated this way. The remainder are handled in-house (often by seniority criteria) or centrally appointed by the Department. In a schools system that’s going backwards in its academic results, we can no longer afford this kind of recruitment policy. The best teacher for the job must get the job, for every vacancy. The future of our young people is at stake.
In moving further away from the merit-based selection of teachers, in December 2018 the Education Department Secretary, Mark Scott, introduced a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’. This gives employment preference to selected groups based on identity politics, including “Aboriginal people”, “culturally and linguistically diverse people”, “sexual orientation” and “women in leadership”.
That is, Scott is more interested in political correctness and virtue signaling than recruiting and promoting teachers solely on ability. Tragically, he is doing to NSW schools what he did to the ABC as its managing director: turning it into a Leftist sinkhole. One Nation will abolish the new ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’ and restore merit-based practices across the Department.
One Nation will also ensure that NSW participates in the successful Teach For Australia program (another meritorious policy opposed by the Teachers Federation). Teach For Australia is a public/private collaboration aimed at recruiting high-quality people from outside the teaching profession (such as businesspeople and other professionals) into classroom teaching, targeting the needs of disadvantaged schools.
After a two-year secondment period (including intensive training in preparation for the classroom) 50 percent of participants stay with a teaching career, boosting quality and equity in our schools. The Federal, Northern Territory, Victorian and Western Australian Governments are involved in Teach For Australia, but not NSW. It is sponsored by highly successful charitable organisations such as the Paul Ramsay Foundation.
It is a tragedy for disadvantaged schooling in NSW that the trade union has convinced governments not to allow ‘outsiders’ into our classrooms. The interests of union membership numbers have been placed ahead of the interests of needy students.
One Nation will correct this injustice. NSW should join the Teach for Australia program, bringing the best people from outside the teaching profession into schools – in particular, targeting the needs of ‘hard-to-staff’ disadvantaged schools.