Teacher summer schools: not nearly enough

Posted: August 14, 2007 in Australia, Education, News, Politics

Last week, all teachers in Australia received the following letter from Federal Minister of Education Julie Bishop. Kindly read the letter and think about the contents for a short time.

Dear Teacher,

Australian Government Summer Schools for Teachers

Teachers are a precious national resource and the teaching profession I Australia deserves greater recognition and reward.

In recognition of the positive difference teachers make to their students’ lives and school communities, the Australia Government announced in the 2007-08 Budget that it would invest $101.7 million over 4 years to establish Summer Schools for Teachers.

This new programme will support the work of teachers by providing exciting opportunities for quality professional learning. It will recognise and reward up to 4,000 of Australia’s best teachers to further enhance their knowledge and skills in one of five priority areas: Literacy and Numeracy, English, Mathematics, Science and Australian History.

The 10 day residential courses funded by the Australian Government will be held in locations around Australia during the school break in January 2008. In addition to travel and accommodation expenses, there will be a $5,000 taxable bonus paid to teachers who complete a course in recognition of their participation, expertise and further experience.

Successful applicants will be high performing teachers, currently working in government and non-government schools, who have the capacity to act as leaders of change in their schools. Specific details about the nomination and selection process will be sent to your school shortly and also be available on the DEST website at www.dest.gov.au.

The course at the summer schools will be developed around evidence-based research into best practice teaching methods, guided by advanced teaching standards and in consultation with professional bodies and other experts. Details of course and locations will also be available on the DEST website once the summer school providers have been selected.

An application package is being developed with specific selection criteria. Applicants will need the support of their school to proceed with an application and the final selection of teachers will be made by the Australian Government.

I encourage you to consider this exciting opportunity for quality professional learning.

Yours sincerely,

Julie Bishop MP.

A ten day course for teachers with a $5000 bonus for those who take part. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But the devil is truly in the details.  Let’s break the letter down so we can see exactly what’s happening, shall we?

Teachers are a precious national resource and the teaching profession I Australia deserves greater recognition and reward.

I suppose that is why Teachers are woefully underpaid, overworked and have so many daft programmes and conditions attached to their jobs, instead of getting proper funding and support.

In recognition of the positive difference teachers make to their students’ lives and school communities, the Australia Government announced in the 2007-08 Budget that it would invest $101.7 million over 4 years to establish Summer Schools for Teachers.

I think most teachers would say that the money would be far better spent on getting proper school facilities built at various schools.  Instead of portables with substandard heating systems and leaking roofs, permanent buildings with preparation rooms for staff.

It will recognise and reward up to 4,000 of Australia’s best teachers to further enhance their knowledge and skills in one of five priority areas: Literacy and Numeracy, English, Mathematics, Science and Australian History.

4,000 teachers.  How many do you think are employed current across Australia? If my memory serves, Victoria employs 60,000 or so.  New South Wales would most likely have 90,000. You can see that 4,000 is a joke compared to the number of Teachers out there.  Also notice the term ‘best teachers’ … who decides by what criteria who is ‘best’?  If those teachers are already coping fine and doing great jobs, are they the ones who should be getting that support?  Should not the teachers who are getting stressed and struggling a bit be the ones who should be getting the extra training?

And since when is Australian History a learning priority?  In the grand scheme of things, Australian History is inconsequential and really not very important.  It also harkens back to the old styles of teaching which were content based and not the new style, which is based on critical thinking skills.

The rest tends to repeat itself a lot though the following points need to be looked at;

  • The $5,000 is taxable which is really rather silly.
  • The application process looks as if it will take considerable time and effort with little chance of applicants getting approved (again, compare the number of teachers employed against the spaces being offered).  This is time that can be far better spent in other activities such as … you know, running a classroom.
  • It is the Federal Government that is selecting applicants when Education is meant to be solely a state run affair.  The Federal Government of this time has displayed a blatant wish to gain more control over Education and this seems a somewhat shallow attempt to address the absurd concerns of ignorant voters and to get teachers on-side.

If the Federal Government were actually serious about recognising Teachers for their role in society, they would throw extra money at State Education Budgets so Teachers could get a proper wage for their work (fifteen years of experience and earning only $65,000 is a sick joke) or put that 100 million towards building programs instead of a summer school which will, in the grand scheme of things, do nothing.

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Comments
  1. […] U.S. is not alone.  Australia has some teacher pay and facility issues, too, according to Matt’s Notepad.  Another interesting read. Explore posts in the same categories: Education spending, Education quality, Teacher Pay, […]

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