ABC Newsradio Marius Benson
19 February 2014
SUBJECT/S: Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Council
COMPERE: ...in Canberra. The Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne is today announcing plans for a review of teacher training. Mr Pyne says the review is needed because of concern over the standards of teaching and the readiness of graduate teachers for dealing with students in classrooms. Christopher Pyne is speaking here to Marius Benson on a slightly noisy mobile phone line.
MARIUS BENSON: Christopher Pyne, what's wrong with our teacher education at the moment that you believe it needs to be reviewed, needs to be changed?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well all the feedback that I've received from the education sector over the last five years has been that teacher quality is the most important determinant for the outcomes for our students. And in fact the OECD report released at the end of last year said that it was the classroom that a student was placed in that had the most impact on student's results. Even more so than the school they went to, their economic background, et cetera.
So we want to get our teacher quality as good as anywhere in the world and the surveys that we've received from students at university, from principals that are hiring staff, from Year 12 students who are choosing teaching, all points to a malaise in the teacher training in Australia that needs to be addressed.
MARIUS BENSON: And what's the nature of that malaise in your view?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the feedback is that the courses are too theoretical and not practical enough. That young people are not prepared or trained to actually teach and that they spend a lot of time at university but not enough time in the classroom learning the practical skills that are required. That there is an emphasis on primary school teaching, we don't have enough specialists in science and maths in senior school. And these are all issues that I want my teacher education taskforce to advise me on over the coming twelve months.
MARIUS BENSON: Does improving teacher standards in your view require more money?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well that's a matter for the states and territories because they employ the teachers. They own and operate the schools. So yes, that is definitely part of it but that's a matter for each state and territory minister.
MARIUS BENSON: A lot of studies of education point to the overwhelming importance of socioeconomic circumstances of students, the attitude of parents. Do you not believe that's as important as teacher quality?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, it's not and every survey or every study that's done internationally and domestically indicate that the most important determinants for a student's outcomes are the quality of the teaching, what they're being taught and the autonomy in schools and parental engagements. And that's - they are the four areas the Commonwealth is concentrating on and I'm not going to allow this debate to be distracted by another round of discussion about funding.
But we've sorted funding, we've delivered the national funding model. What this is about is teacher training, it's about teacher quality and that is one of the - that is the most important determinant for a student's outcomes.
MARIUS BENSON: Can I leave education there …..(interview moves to other topics)
COMPERE: That's the Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne speaking to ABC Newsradio, Marius Benson.