Attention Class: Time to Do Our Sums on Better Teaching

Australia’s best teachers should be paid almost $130,000 as a key step in recognising their value to society and strengthening the teaching profession, a new BCA paper says.

The paper also recommends creating two new levels of teacher certification beyond initial registration, to allow the best teachers to be recognised as ‘accomplished’ and ‘leading’, as part of a much needed overhaul of remuneration.

The BCA today launched its new paper Teaching Talent: The Best Teachers For Australia’s Classrooms, which calls for a five-point plan to recognise outstanding teachers and to lift the standard of teaching in Australian classrooms.

“Teachers are a key to unlocking our nation’s economic and social potential, but their contribution to society is being greatly undervalued,” the Chairman of the BCA’s Education, Skills and Innovation Task Force, Hutch Ranck, said.

“The quality of learning by our children is critical in ensuring Australia has the skills and knowledge required to meet its future challenges, and quality and effectiveness of classroom teachers are the most important influences on effective learning.

“Nobody can believe that capping the top salary for classroom teachers at about $70,000 places enough value on the enormous contribution they make to the future prosperity of our nation.

“Stakeholders are unanimous that the first step in achieving improved outcomes for individual students in education is to attract the best people into teaching.

“While salary may not be the strongest reason teachers choose to enter the profession our research shows it is a key reason many talented people decide to avoid teaching.

“This is a concern if we want our education system to be among the world’s best,” Mr Ranck said.

The Teaching Talent paper, prepared for the BCA by the Australian Council for Educational Research, focuses on what Australia needs to do to raise the quality of teaching in all schools for the benefit of every student. It recommends:

  • Recruiting the most talented, capable and committed people into the teaching profession.
  • Introducing new national certification system that recognises excellent teachers and provides the basis for a new career path for the profession.
  • A new remuneration structure that rewards excellent teachers and demonstrates that, as a society, Australia values the teaching profession.
  • A comprehensive strategy that supports teachers in continuing to learn and improve their teaching throughout their careers.
  • The introduction of a national assessment and accreditation system for teacher education courses.

As part of the BCA’s five-point plan for lifting teaching standards it recommends the creation of a new national agency to establish and provide a voluntary advanced certification system for teachers.

This will provide the basis for offering more attractive salaries and career paths to graduates and those who seek to change careers into teaching, strengthen incentives for professional learning and establish more consistent and widespread teacher development practices.

The paper highlights that a key to improving standards will be in teachers themselves developing standards for their profession. The involvement of teachers in this process will help identify the most effective improvements that can be realised for all students.

“This is about building up the teaching profession and making it an attractive and rewarding one,” Mr Ranck said.
 
“Excellent teaching is the key to increased student engagement and higher levels of achievement regardless of student background.

“But too often, effective practices are not made available to all teachers.

“Improving the learning outcomes of all students requires a concerted commitment from governments, schools, local communities and the business sector to lift the quality of the school system.

“The focus needs to be on how we achieve this objective.

“While we recognise that remuneration is not the only issue that needs to be addressed in order to improve the quality of teaching, it is very important.

“The total remuneration that an individual can expect to earn does reflect the value that a community places on a particular occupation,” he said.

Listen to BCA Chief Executive Katie Lahey's interview on ABC Radio National AM

Teaching Talent: The Best Teachers for Australia's Classrooms (paper)