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Better teachers, not more teachers

Better teachers, not more teachers, are what's important

The $167 million in funding announced yesterday for extra teachers would be better spent improving teacher quality, according to the Education Forum.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard yesterday announced funding for 774 extra secondary and primary teaching positions over four years, bringing the number of fulltime positions created between 2000 and next year to about 2100.

Education Forum chairman John Morris questioned where the new teachers would come from and said simply increasing teacher numbers would not improve learning outcomes.

"It's quality teachers we need, not simply more teachers."

Mr Morris said the critical issue was whether students were better off in larger classes with top-class teachers or in smaller classes with less-able teachers.

"There is much evidence to suggest that smaller classes do not necessarily translate into significantly better learning outcomes.

"It would seem to be clear that a great teacher in front of a large class is better than a mediocre teacher in front of a smaller class.

"Before considering increasing the teaching force and decreasing class size, the priority should be to ensure that the existing and future teaching force is the best it can be.

"We have little chance of catching the knowledge wave and reaching first class standards without first class teachers," Mr Morris said.

An Education Forum Briefing Paper, The school class size debate: does size matter?, summarising the class size debate, can be downloaded as a PDF document from here .

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