Monday, May 26, 2008

Our best teachers are worth $130,000 per annum

The Business Council of Australia is to present the government with a radical proposal under which Australia’s best teachers would be paid up to $130,00 each in order to remain in the classroom.

At the moment the top salary for a classroom teacher is around $70,000.

The proposal, outlined in a paper released this morning entitled Teaching Talent: The Best Teachers For Australia’s Classrooms, would eventually cost an extra $4 billion per year, to be funded half by the Commonwealth and half by the states and territories.

Justifying the expense the Business Council paper says there are “no cost-neutral ways to ensure that in the future Australia will have a teaching profession equal to the best in the world”.

“But there will be major costs if we do not"...

The Council proposes setting up a new national agency to run a voluntary advanced certification system for teachers.

Those judged to be “Accomplished Teachers” would be rewarded with a salary twice the graduate starting level.

Those judged to be “Leading Teachers” would receive 2.5 times the starting salary.

The certification agency would be run by teachers themselves.

Certification would be required in order for teachers to be promoted to leadership positions.

The Business Council report says that “salary may not be a strong reason why current teachers have chosen to teach, but it is a strong reason why many abler graduates choose not to teach, and this is cause for considerable concern if we want our education system to remain among the
best in the world”.

“There is no justification for assuming from this that our society can continue to get away with not paying teachers what they are worth,” the report says.

The report finds evidence of a “a largely hidden
resignation spike” after eight to ten years of teaching, when teachers reach the top of their salary scales.

“For some teachers, this may be a case of ‘now or never’ when it comes to seeking a new career, a decision that crystallises when teachers reach the maximum and final salary step.”

The report says good teachers are often being replaced by new teachers of a lesser academic quality.

Universities have been dropping their entrance requirements and were “free to enrol students in teacher education courses until they fill course quotas”.

In some courses the entry level is less than the 60th percentile, “which means Australia is recruiting substantial numbers of primary teachers from the middle third of high school graduates rather than the top third,” the report says.

Most states do not require students taking up teacher training to have passed either Year 12 maths or science.

The report recommends that entry scores for teaching courses not fall below the 75th percentile and that all intending primary teachers be required to have studied maths, science and English to Year 12.

“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,” the report says.

“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.”

The Business Council’s recommendations dovetail with those made by the economics group at the 2020 summit which called for Australia to have one of the best education systems in the world by 2020.

They also fit in with Labor’s pre-election commitment to recognise teaching excellence by paying bonuses to highly accomplished teachers of up to $10,000 per year.

Tuesday Column: Paying teachers for performance, Canberra Times, March 6, 2007

Lessons must be learnt if we are to keep teachers, Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday, January 12, 2005