There is nothing more important to the quality of our schools, than the quality of our teachers. Teacher quality is the single greatest influence on student engagement and achievement making it critical that university courses are of the highest quality.
The Rudd Government will improve the quality of teaching courses and reduce HELP repayments for students who enter the teaching profession through changes to the way teaching courses are funded.
As recommended in the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education, the Government will increase the maximum student contribution for education units of study for students who commence in 2010, from the national priority band to Band 1 (currently $4162 and $5201 respectively) to better support universities to provide high quality teaching courses.
This measure will deliver an estimated additional $108 million over four years to universities to encourage them to offer quality teaching courses.
To offset this additional cost for students, the Government’s incentives for mathematics and science graduates will be extended to new teacher education graduates who go on to teach, to encourage more students into the teaching profession.
Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayments will also be reduced for education graduates (by up to $1536 per year for 2009-10) to encourage them to take up and remain employed in teaching. This is similar to the Government's approach to mathematics and science graduates.
Students who graduate from education courses from Semester 2, 2009 will be eligible to receive the reduction if they go on to pursue a teaching career. Similar arrangements will also apply to nursing graduates as recommended by the Bradley Review.
A student who starts their education degree in 2010 will have increased student contributions of around $3,500 over a three year degree. If they take out a HECS HELP loan, this will be the extra that they will borrow. When they start working as a teacher and their income reaches the threshold for making compulsory repayments ($41 595 currently) they will be able to claim the HELP payment reduction. If their income for a full year’s work as a teacher is $50 000, for example, their repayment will be reduced from around $2250 to around $700. For the full period of 260 weeks they can claim, they will save more than $7500 – making them $4000 better off.
Taking steps to encourage universities to improve teacher education courses and to encourage students in to teaching, builds on the Government’s $550 million Smarter Schools – Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership.
This important reform targets critical points in the teacher lifecycle to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in our schools and classrooms by:
- encouraging the best and brightest graduates into teaching though Teach for Australia
- lifting the quality of teacher training and professional development
- develop and enhancing the skills and knowledge of teachers and school leaders throughout their careers
- building professional pathways for Indigenous people and Indigenous education workers who wish to progress to teaching
- improving reward structures for teachers and leaders who work in disadvantaged, Indigenous, rural/remote and hard-to-staff schools
- empowering principals to better manage schools and achieve improved student results
- improving the quality and availability of teacher workforce data.
This investment in quality teaching recognises the pivotal role of teaching and learning in our schools to the nation’s future jobs, competitiveness and productivity.