Dire teacher shortages have pushed the federal government to consider radical reforms to get more people to take up the profession or stay longer.
- Federal government will table plan to give some senior teachers a 40 per cent pay rise
- Under the plan, professionals who want to retrain to be teachers could be paid to learn on the job
- The Australian Education Union said pay rises are needed across the board
Under a plan to be tabled at an emergency meeting of federal, state and territory education ministers next week, senior teachers could get a pay rise, while professionals who want to retrain to be teachers could be paid to learn on the job.
But a pay rise would not be for everyone. So-called “master teacher” or senior teaching positions would be awarded a 40 per cent wage boost.
With more children at school than ever before but fewer people lining up to become teachers, Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said it was time for a shake up.
“It’s serious and it’s getting worse,” he said.
“It’s not just because of the flu, not just because of COVID, it’s bigger than that.”
He said paid teaching internships were on the table for professionals from other industries who were doing a two-year masters degree in education.
“It’s a good idea to get people already in the workforce — mid-career professionals — to make the shift to the classroom.”
“If you can get people who have got qualifications into the classroom, that’s a good thing.”
Pay rises needed ‘across the board’, says union
Mr Clare admitted higher pay would be a major shift but said it would be up for discussion.
“One thing is certain, we’re not going to fix this problem by doing the same thing time after time,” he said.
“We’ve got to look for new ideas that are going to help, not just fix the shortage of teachers but also raise the performance of our kids.”
In terms of paying for the changes, Mr Clare said the state and federal governments would have to “work together”.
The Australian Education Union deputy president Meredith Peace said the paid internship option could work.
She said people with experience in other careers were already benefiting students in classrooms.
But she wasn’t convinced by the idea of master teachers with big pay rises, arguing a wage rise for all teachers would be fairer.
“I don’t think it’s a solution to pick out a small group of people and give them significant pay increases,” she said.
“This is a much more complex issue than that. We need proper career structures that reward high performing teachers who want to stay in the classroom.
“We need to provide decent salaries across the board.”