Universities are continuing to graduate upwards of 16,000 new teachers every year across the country, despite nearly 90 per cent of teaching graduates failing to secure a job.
According to the Department of Education more than 40,000 teachers are on departmental waiting lists for permanent jobs in NSW, an oversupply expected to last until the end of the decade.
In an effort to curb the oversupply of teachers in NSW, Education Minister Adrian Piccoli is urging the federal government to consider a cap on the number of students enrolling in teaching degrees.
“What we want to do is to take out some of the lower achieving students who go into teaching by setting that high standard,” Piccoli says.
“We want students with an ATAR of at least 70 and higher.”
While the state government can determine entry requirements for teaching degrees, only the federal government has the ability to implement a cap on the number of students allowed to study education at university.
However, despite the state government’s inability to cap numbers, Piccoli is planning to increase the entry score for teaching degrees. Currently the average ATAR to be accepted into a primary school teaching degree is 71. However, from 2015 school leavers will have to score at least 80 per cent in three HSC subjects to be considered for a place in a teaching degree.
Every year 5500 new teachers graduate from NSW universities, however, only 450 are offered jobs in government schools and about 300 obtain jobs in Catholic and independent schools.
The President of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron, believes the state government’s ‘Great Teaching Inspired Learning’ plan will improve workforce planning and better address shortages in rural areas and western Sydney.
“The plan will help us better regulate the teaching workforce and target areas where teachers are most needed. We need proper incentives for graduates to teach in areas where there are shortages and appropriate restrictions in place to curb the oversupply of teachers in certain subject areas and at the primary school level,” Mulheron says.
However, Mulheron believes universities and the federal government are against better workforce planning.
“Universities enrol without any regard for the workforce. The university is given about $15,000 for every student teacher, it is a financial incentive to keep entry scores low and some universities will let students in on ATARs of less then 60, that is when an oversupply will occur,” Mulheron says.
“vice-chancellor’s have always seen education as a cash cow. Only about $5,000 of the money goes to the education faculty with the rest getting siphoned off into other faculties like law.”
However, Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven says new teachers are increasingly being offered casual or temporary positions which can often equate to full-time work.
”The reason that’s happening is not because universities are producing too many teachers, it’s because employers of teachers obviously find certain cost and flexibility advantages in hiring teachers that way,” Craven says.
While the oversupply of primary school teachers is expected to last until the end of the decade, even if retirements and resignations double, there is still a significant shortage of teachers in rural areas.