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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11154

Rewards for Great Teachers Initiative

(Question No. 1155)

Mr Pyne asked the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, in writing, on 21 August 2012:

In respect of the Rewards for Great Teachers initiative, (a) how will the role of learning support staff in the classroom, as compared with classroom teachers, be (i) recognised, and (ii) measured, in the progress of a student, and (b) what initiatives, remunerative or otherwise, will be implemented to retain experienced learning support staff.

Mr Garrett: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The objective of the Rewards for Great Teachers initiative is to improve the quality, performance and development of all teachers in Australia, in order to improve student learning outcomes. This program is about recognising and rewarding our best performing teachers and keeping them where they are most needed - in the classroom.

The Australian Government acknowledges the vital role in supporting teachers that Learning Support staff provide in schools every day. Responsibility for the recruitment and employment of learning support staff rests with the states and territories and non-government education authorities.

The Commonwealth does not provide direct funding for learning support staff, however, under the $550 million Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership, a number of states are implementing a range of reforms that are focused on learning support staff.

In New South Wales 166 paraprofessional support positions have been created to support teachers to focus on student learning. These paraprofessionals are employed in a variety of roles including supporting literacy and numeracy programs, developing and implementing data support and management systems, working as Aboriginal Education Assistants and providing general in-classroom support.

In Queensland, the Department of Education and Training will create an extra 500 full-time equivalent teacher aide positions, which will provide extra assistance every week. It will also expand opportunities for Indigenous staff to gain nationally recognised qualifications through the enhancement of the Remote Area Teacher Education Program (RATEP). RATEP will provide additional opportunities for Indigenous education workers to gain qualifications at a Certificate III, IV and Diploma level.

In Western Australia, the Department of Education and Training is facilitating the up skilling of over 150 education assistants and has established a new Senior Learning Assistant (SLA) level to improve career paths. The Department is also supporting Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEOs) and Aboriginal Teaching Assistants to be up skilled. Nearly 50 AIEOs completed Certificate III or Certificate IV qualifications in 2011.

In South Australia a major component of the strategy to improve in-school support for teachers and leaders in disadvantaged schools in all sectors has been to increase the skills of school support staff through accredited learning and work redesign. School Support Officers and Aboriginal Community Education Officers are able to choose from a range of accredited skill sets and certificates in finance, in education support, and in government services. Aboriginal Community Education Officers are also able to participate in a certificate in community services work.

In the Northern Territory the Inclusive Leadership model is being implemented in 22 large, very remote government and non-government schools. It is allowing these schools to determine the most appropriate way to enhance engagement with local community members. Some models being implemented include cultural advisors and local staff that support cultural programs, staff cultural competence and promote community engagement with school.