EDUCATORS believe a Federal Opposition plan to raise the minimum ATAR scores needed to study teaching will not necessarily improve the quality of new teachers.
St Brigid’s College Horsham teacher Alexandra Brack said there was a risk some students would miss out on becoming educators if they had an off day when sitting their VCE exams.
“I think they (Labor) are coming from the right place with it, but just because you’re studious and know how to take standardised tests doesn’t mean you will have the right nature to be best teacher you can be,” she said.
“I can’t praise the idea of quality control enough, but there is so much more to the academic side of teaching that people need to be aware of and exceed at to be a good teacher.
“To be able to think on your feet when something happens at the back of the classroom or there’s an accident… some days you just come home and feel like you’ve made a million decisions.”
Miss Brack studied an arts degree at Melbourne’s LaTrobe University for three years, before completing a one-year teaching diploma at the same institution.
She teaches English, Media and Humanities at St Brigid’s.
She said improving the curriculum of teaching degrees was just as important as vetting those who could study them.
“I think the best thing to ensure the quality of teachers is that there is more time in the classroom, with supervision as a pre-registered teacher, to experience what it’s like,” Miss Brack said.
“For teachers like me who have only been working for five years or so, the burnout rate is incredible. There are so many that get to the job and find they can’t be the teacher they want to be.
“There is so much more associated with teaching now than just teaching. You end up being (the students’) counsellor and their friend, alongside all the administrative work.
“In saying that, it’s a very rewarding line of work, but you have to be prepared for it, and I think certainly the one year I did at LaTrobe was not enough time to come out being the best possible teacher I could be.”
Miss Brack also suggested that, if Labor was elected to federal government this year and introduced ATAR caps, universities would need to revisit their special consideration program for regional students to make sure they did not unreasonably miss out on spots in education degrees.
Federation University School of Education Dean Professor Claire McLachlan said an ATAR was only one of the factors the university took into account when picking successful teaching degree applicants.
“School leavers must also demonstrate that they have met the statewide requirements for entry, which include a score of 25 in VCE English and year 11 general maths or higher,” she said.
“Arguably, strengthening the literacy and maths scores requirements would be a better indicator of strength in these areas than the general ATAR score.
“All FedUni applicants are also expected to complete CASPer aptitude testing, from which a normally distributed test score is derived. This test identifies whether applicants have the attributes and dispositions required for teaching.”
More than 1200 students were enrolled in undergraduate education degrees at Federation University in 2018, and a further 200 in masters degrees.