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Ogilvy: UF’s tripartite policy for teachers

Media Statement
For immediate release
Friday, 3 June 2005

Ogilvy: UF’s tripartite policy for teachers

United Future education spokesman Bernie Ogilvy today announced a tripartite policy designed to introduce more strategic direction to teacher recruitment, attract quality candidates to the profession, and support them throughout their career, because teacher quality matters.

1. Strategic Recruitment

“To ensure that the country has a sufficient supply of quality teachers, we will fund training providers on the basis of the foreseeable future demands of the school system, increasing the number of trainees funded when there is a shortage, as currently exists in the early childhood and secondary sectors, and reducing the numbers of funded places when there is an oversupply, as is the case with the primary sector.”

The problems of teacher supply extend beyond sectoral shortages to those faced by individual schools according to their geographical location or decile rating. Research has shown that teachers can make a real difference to the educational achievement of children from lower socio-economic groups, and United Future wants to help hard-to-staff schools to attract the quality teachers they need by them to pay more to attract quality teachers.

“We also recognise the huge difference that principals can make to a school, and will allow struggling schools to offer higher salaries to attract exceptional candidates to lead their school.”

United Future also supports bonding for trainee teachers in subjects and sectors where there are shortages through the use of scholarships and student loan write-offs.

2. Ensuring Quality Trainees

United Future will ensure that those entering teacher training pass minimum entry standards assessing aptitude and suitability for teaching, and ensure that those who graduate have the necessary skills to teach.

“We believe that this will not only lead to more consistency in the quality of teaching, but help to raise the esteem of the profession by appealing to high-performing graduates.”

“The evidence regarding the importance of teacher aptitude is far more compelling and clear than any existing evidence about teacher training. We will ensure that pre-service programmes give greater recognition to prior learning.”

Mr Ogilvy said that his party is also interested in developing alternative pathways for trainees. United Future would allow schools to institute their own “teaching apprenticeships”, whereby promising graduates may be recruited to receive practical training in the classroom as teacher aides alongside experienced teachers, as well as completing the necessary academic courses, while receiving a basic salary.

“We recognise that graduating as a teacher is just the beginning, and that the critical period for beginning teachers is during the few years of professional life, so we will ensure that all beginning teachers receive the close supervision and support in schools that they need for the first three years.”

3. Career Development

Retaining good teachers within the profession is another challenge. On one hand, the government should do more to develop an attractive career path for teachers. On the other hand, it’s also important that effectiveness in the classroom is regularly evaluated and rewarded.

To achieve this balanced outcome, United Future will:

· Address teacher workloads by ensuring that teachers have sufficient non-contact time to plan, develop resources, assess, and communicate with parents.

· Establish ‘master teachers’ as a new avenue for promotion, whereby those who have demonstrated excellence in teaching will receive management units and non-contact time to assist other teachers in the classroom.

· Improve teacher retention by introducing a sabbatical scheme that would allow teachers to take a year out of school every seven years.

· Ensure that pay reflects performance by requiring teachers to undergo regular assessment against national teaching standards in the classroom by external monitors, link this assessment to any pay increases, and take action where standards are lacking.

· Ensure that sufficient funding for professional development is available, where it is likely to have a clear impact on learning outcomes.

· Ensure that teachers receive initial and ongoing training in identifying and working with children who have disabilities, behavioural and learning difficulties, as well as those working with talented and gifted learners.

“In releasing a series of policies that specifically addresses teaching, United Future is demonstrating its belief that our teachers make an invaluable contribution to the educational achievement of our children," Mr Ogilvy said.

Ends.

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