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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I point out to the honourable member that this Bill has a very definite purpose. It has nothing to do with kindergarten children and training. It is described in quite clear terms in the Minister's second reading speech as a Bill to extend the present programme of assistance to teachers colleges with a further S30m in the form of unmatched grants to the States. I ask the honourable member to confine his remarks within the framework of the Bill.

Mr REYNOLDS - Mr Deputy Speaker, I bow to your interpretation on what the Bill deals with. I just want to say this: In face of all these demands for teachers we have on the other hand a scandalous situation in New South Wales. Some 2,000 students have completed 6 years at secondary school and are being denied places in teachers colleges. I wonder again: Does this Bill front up to that particular position?

I want to say a few words, if I may, about the special problems of technical education and the supply of teachers for it. In my experience technical education in this country has been very much the poor relation of our education family. In technical colleges many teachers are completely untrained as far as the art of teaching is concerned. I suppose that in the New South Wales Technical Education Department there are more part time untrained (in terms of teaching) teachers than there are qualified teachers in the sense of having had a course of teacher training. Those who undertake a teacher training course have 1 year's training concurrent with teaching in their first year of employment. For 2 days a week they go to a teacher training course. This is regarded as grossly inadequate by any standards. I have been party over the last 3 years to an examination of this problem and to designing a more professionally suitable course of teacher education for technical teachers in the State of New South Wales. After 3 years of exhaustive inquiry we got the reply that there is not sufficient finance available to be able to introduce the new courses that we have helped to plan. This is a matter of great concern when we recognise the tremendous importance of industry, of trade training and of technological training. All these things apparently are not getting the recognition that they should. Of course, part of a technical teacher's training includes refreshment in his own technology. We are all well aware of how quickly the techniques of industry are changing.

I will not dwell on these matters except to say that our technical schools in many cases are inferior to many of the poorest of our primary and secondary schools. They are dingy, ill equipped, obsolete, ill lit, cold in winter and in many cases intensely hot in summer. What kind of an atmosphere or environment is this in which to try to train young people for industry. What opportunity for job satisfaction is there when teachers go into such places. Is it any wonder that many teachers - 12% in New South Wales last year numbering 4,000 - left the teaching service? I wonder whether this Bill will help substantially in overcoming that situation or will it only help us to keep up with the losses we are suffering in the teacher service; help us to stand still? All this reflects on the status of teaching. When people who have not had any professional education in the art of teaching appear before classes and pretend to teach they must detract from the status of teaching as a profession. Therefore, we should be insistent, in co-operation with the States, that every person who goes into a classroom to teach any of our children or young adults or older adults should have professional qualifications. I am not too sure that we wilt do that with the amount of money provided in this Bill.

The Bill does provide that where this money is allocated for the building of teachers colleges 10% of the places in such colleges shall be reserved for unbonded students. The assumption is, as 1 have always understood it, that such teachers shall be free then to teach where they will. If they want to go into private teaching that will be all right; if they want to transfer to some other State that will be in order. They will be unbonded. My only wish is that all teachers might be given the professional regard of being unbonded. Anyone who goes to a university on a Commonwealth scholarship to become an architect does not become bonded to an employer, nor does a student engineer or student doctor. All these people are eligible for Commonwealth scholarships. Why is it that teachers should be degraded by being tied from the moment they accept the scholarship, meagre as it is, by way of a bond for some years afterwards to be employed with a particular employer. Teaching will never have the professional recognition that I saw doctors receive in this House last week when we were discussing the national health scheme. No wonder State Departments of Education ignore the professional teacher organisations. No wonder they do not get an official place on the advisory bodies set up to advise the Minister in many cases.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury - Order! I point out to the honourable member that he is engaging in much too wide a discussion on education.

Mr REYNOLDS - 1 am moving on to the specific point of the Bill.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - A passing reference to .allied matters is permissible but 1 ask the honourable member to keep his remarks within the framework of the Bill.

Mr REYNOLDS - I mention the fact that 10% of places in teachers colleges are reserved for unbonded students. Testimony coming before the Labor Party education committee 2 or 3 weeks ago indicated that this 10% is not being preserved at this stage by some private authorities. I hope the Minister will look into this position. I think this is a part of the conditions of the Commonwealth grant and it should be observed. My only wish is that 100% of places in teachers colleges carried this proviso. There is divided opinion on the status teachers colleges should have. One body of opinion is in favour of teachers colleges being autonomous bodies with degree granting authority. My hope is that all teachers shall have the opportunity in the not too distant future of aspiring to a degree and the status it carries with it. The second body of opinion is in favour of Colleges of Advanced Education carrying out teacher training. In many cases this is already being done. Some people have a deep concern that this will be a dilution of the aspirations for professional status. Some other time I will develop that thought. There is a body of opinion which thinks that all teacher education should be carried out in universities or under a body linked with universities. All this simply means that teacher education bodies are aspiring to professional status.

As 1 said at the outset, this Bill is useful. lt does provide a worthwhile amount but just how much it will do remains to be seen. My worry is that the crisis conditions in the supply of teachers at the moment are such that I would have rather seen a much more systematic study of what was required and then an indication placed before this Parliament of what the dimensions of the problem are. Then we would be able more accurately to measure how effective the Bill is that we have before the House.

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