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Tuesday, 30 November 1999
Page: 11054


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (3:46 PM) —by leave—I present the government's response to the report of the then Employment, Education and Training References Committee entitled A class act: inquiry into the status of the teaching profession , and I seek leave to incorporate the document in Hansard .

Leave granted.

The document read as follows

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE SENATE EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING REFERENCES COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO THE STATUS OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION

The Commonwealth Government recognises that there is a perception that the status of the teaching profession is in decline and acknowledges the concerns expressed by witnesses to the Inquiry. The 1999-2000 Budget included $77.7 million over three years for a Quality Teacher Programme to update and improve teachers' skills and help lift the status of the teaching profession in both government and non-government schools. The programme will support the provision of targeted professional development programmes by government and non-government education authorities and other organisations with a small proportion of the funds being retained to support strategic national projects.

A decline in the perceived status of teaching is not a purely Australian phenomenon. An issues paper prepared for the 45th session of the International Conference on Education in 1996 includes the statement that, "In most countries, however, the (teaching) profession has suffered a serious loss of prestige"(1).

The importance of the status of teachers is recognised in the statement of National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century which was endorsed by State, Territory and Commonwealth Education Ministers meeting at the 10th Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in Adelaide in April 1999. The statement of new national goals, which has been termed The Adelaide Declaration , replaces the former Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia (The Hobart Declaration ).

The intention of the National Goals for Schooling is to establish a foundation for action by State and Territory governments, the Commonwealth, non-government school authorities and others in the wider community to secure the best possible educational outcomes for all young Australians. The National Goals statement explicitly acknowledges `the central role of teachers in the learning process' and the fact that `The achievement of the national goals entails a commitment to collaboration for the purposes of enhancing the status and quality of the teaching profession'. It also acknowledges the importance of `increasing public confidence in school education through explicit and defensible standards that guide improvement in students' levels of educational achievement and through which the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schooling can be measured and evaluated'.

The Commonwealth Government considers that a number of the report's recommendations are excessively prescriptive and have the potential to decrease the status of the profession by reducing the autonomy of teachers and by reducing opportunities for teachers to exercise their professional judgement. The Government also notes that the apparent decline in status is not a recent phenomenon and was evident also over a period when a number of the measures which the majority report proposes to re-introduce were in place.

As detailed in the following response, the Commonwealth Government does not accept a number of the recommendations in the report. Several of the recommendations will be referred to the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs which is a more appropriate forum for their further consideration.

(1) Source: Francis. L Higginson. Teacher Roles and Global Change . An Issues Paper prepared for the 45th session of the International Conference on Education. p10

(Note: The numbering of recommendations is not necessarily consistent between the Report and the Minority Report. A comparison table is included at the end of the Government Response for ease of reference.)

Recommendation 1

The Committee RECOMMENDS that:

the Commonwealth Government facilitate the development of a national professional teaching standards and registration body to have the responsibility, authority and resources to develop and maintain standards of professional practice. The national body should work closely with State governments and peak teaching organisations. The national body will:

. establish standards of professional practice which take into account what teachers should be expected to know and be able to do in order to facilitate student learning across the key learning areas

. certify levels of entry into the profession, criteria for re-registration and recognition of advanced standing in the profession

. accredit programmes of initial teacher training and establish the professional development framework for the maintenance of the professional expertise of teachers

. make recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister on priorities for national professional development programmes

. consider and act on complaints of professional incompetence, and assist teachers to improve their skills

. manage a register of teachers who meet and maintain professional standards and are thereby eligible for employment as teachers in both government and non-government sectors of education

. promote the value of teaching in the community.

The national professional teaching standards and registration body should be empowered to delegate aspects of its authority, and such tasks as it sees fit, to appropriate agencies or teacher associations.

The national body should cover all sections of the industry and teachers from all sections of education, including those in early childhood, government and non-government schools, vocational education and training, TAFE, adult and community education and, in time, universities.

The national body should be funded by governments and by teachers' registration fees.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that State and Territory governments examine the possibility of the establishment of teacher registration boards with functions, membership and funding similar to those now operating through the Teacher Registration Board in Queensland.

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA (the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs) investigate the establishment of a framework for mutual recognition of teacher registration arrangements adopted by boards of teacher registration in each State and Territory

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA, working closely with State and Territory teacher registration bodies, examine the feasibility of establishing:

. nationally consistent standards of professional practice which take into account what teachers should be expected to know and be able to do in order to facilitate student learning across the key learning areas

. certified levels of entry into the profession, criteria for re-registration and recognition of advanced standing in the profession

. accreditation arrangements for initial teacher training and a professional development framework for the maintenance of the professional expertise of teachers

. a system for making recommendations to the Commonwealth Minister on priorities for national professional development programmes

. mechanisms for acting on complaints of professional incompetence and assisting teachers to improve their skills

. a national register of teachers certified by State and Territory registration boards as meeting and maintaining professional standards and thus eligible for employment as teachers in both government and non-government schools.

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA include among its responsibilities the promotion in the general community of the value of teaching.

Response

The Commonwealth Government notes that many elements of this recommendation relate to matters that are the primary responsibility of State and Territory authorities and teacher employers in the States and Territories.

There is a difference between a system of registration of teachers, which would be a recognition that a person has met the minimum standards required for employment, and the code of high professional standards required to raise professional status which, as the report indicates, is the responsibility of the profession itself. The Government is not persuaded that the evidence provided demonstrates a connection between teacher registration and teacher professionalism. As indicated in the minority report, the implementation of this recommendation would require a high degree of collaboration between authorities involved particularly as it goes beyond the limited teacher registration practised in Australia.

The Commonwealth Government further notes that there is no consensus as to the desirability of formal teacher registration or of the preferred model for this. Currently Queensland, as mentioned in the report, and South Australia have teacher registration authorities. Victoria has replaced its mechanism for formal registration of government school teachers with a Standards Council for the Teaching Profession. The lapsed Teaching Standards Bill, which was introduced into the last New South Wales Parliament and was to have provided for the establishment of a Teaching Standards Board with responsibilities in relation to both teacher registration and teacher standards, provoked considerable public debate.

There is already a mechanism for mutual recognition of teacher registration. Where teacher registration exists the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 and complementary legislation which has been enacted in all States and Territories provides for the mutual recognition of all registered occupations.

The creation of a national body which has as a core responsibility the establishment of the eligibility for employment of all teachers, whether in the government or non-government sphere, would represent an intrusion upon the legitimate interests of the States, Territories and non-government school authorities and would have the potential to restrict the flexibility of employers and teachers to respond to local requirements in areas such as curriculum and professional development. Without support from all parties, the Commonwealth Government would not consider any national measures to regulate the teaching profession or involve itself with arrangements which individual States and Territories may have instituted for this purpose.

While the Commonwealth Government agrees that a degree of national consistency in initial teacher education is desirable, it also acknowledges the requirement for initial teacher education to address the needs of teacher employers in the States and Territories. The Commonwealth provided funding for the Australian Council of Deans of Education to undertake a project to develop national standards and guidelines for initial teacher education. The report of this project entitled Preparing a Profession was published in February 1998 and the Commonwealth Minister referred it to MCEETYA. MCEETYA has since proposed the establishment of a Taskforce to inquire into the skills base and qualifications of teachers graduating from university education faculties to establish whether the needs of employers are being met currently and for the future. The Commonwealth Government considers that Preparing a Profession will be a useful resource for this Taskforce and also urges teacher employers in the States and Territories and education faculties in the universities to take account of it when assessing the qualifications of applicants for teaching positions and when developing or assessing teacher education courses.

The Commonwealth Government will arrange for the minority recommendation in relation to the promotion of the value of teaching in the general community to be referred to MCEETYA. It notes, however, that governments on their own cannot be expected to effect significant changes in community perceptions of the value of teaching without supportive and complementary action by other key parties. Too often in the past, for example, the irresponsible actions of some teacher unions have been seriously detrimental to community perceptions of teachers and teaching, generally.

Recommendation 2

The Committee RECOMMENDS that:

Governments fund public schools at a level sufficient to deliver the appropriate standard of education within the Eight Key Learning Areas, and commensurate with the National Goals of Schooling

the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments jointly establish a Schools Education Costs Committee to undertake consultation and research with the aim of ascertaining the cost of delivering, at the various stages of schooling and in each of the Eight Key Learning Areas, an education which will meet the basic requirements of those Key Learning Areas and the National Goals for Schooling and

on the basis of such data and information determine overall resource levels, allocative mechanisms and the relative funding shares of the various governments.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that governments fund public schools at a level sufficient to deliver the appropriate standard of education within the Eight Key Learning Areas, and commensurate with the National Goals of Schooling.

Response

The Commonwealth Government agrees with the first part of the recommendation and with the recommendation of the minority report. On 23 April 1999, MCEETYA agreed to the Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty First Century. The Goals are more focussed on high quality learning outcomes for all Australian students and provide broad directions to guide activity to secure these outcomes.

The Commonwealth Government also agrees with the arguments put forward in the minority report that the sentiments expressed in the majority report are unrealistic and pay insufficient attention to the conflicting financial pressures on governments. The Commonwealth Government's policy is to support the development of two strong school sectors which give maximum possible choice for parents and students. It has committed itself to maintaining funding for government and non-government schools in real terms. Commonwealth funding for schools has increased by 90.6 per cent over the period 1988-89 to 1998-99 (1) and is guaranteed by legislation to the year 2000. The Commonwealth Government will provide an unprecedented $7.6 billion in direct funding to government schools over the 2001- 2004 quadrennium. This represents an increase of almost $1 billion (or 15 per cent) for government schools.

(1) Source: Table V—Commonwealth Budget Outlays by Function and Subfunction, Budget paper No.1 1998-99

The 1999-2000 budget included decisions for schools funding for 2001-2004 and draft legislation to enact the arrangements scheduled to be introduced late in 1999. The Commonwealth Government is committed to education reform, better targeting and improved educational outcomes for all students, and is determined to achieve real improvements in literacy and numeracy. While the Commonwealth provides significantly growing funding for specific national objectives and growing general grants to States, it is a matter for State governments to decide the final funding levels and allocation of resources to individual schools.

Recommendation 3

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the new national professional teaching standards and registration body establish clear levels of advanced professional certification reflecting teachers' experience, professional development and additional roles such as mentoring. Such certification might be helpful in determining levels of remuneration for teachers.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation. Salary and career structures are a responsibility of State and Territory governments.

Response

As indicated in the response to Recommendation 1, the Commonwealth Government does not support the establishment of a national bureaucracy to regulate teaching. The Minority Report by Government Senators more accurately reflects the situation where salaries are a matter for negotiation between teachers and teacher employers in government and non-government schools.

Recommendation 4

The Committee RECOMMENDS a reversal of the trend to casualisation of the teaching force.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation. The trend to casualisation is beyond the control of Commonwealth or State jurisdictions.

Response

The recommendation does not distinguish sufficiently between the casual employment of teachers to fill short-term vacancies and the move towards the contractual rather than permanent employment of teachers. While the report cites instances of difficulties associated with contract employment it has not taken adequate account of the underlying reasons for this development, or its actual or potential benefits.

The Commonwealth Government does not believe that the setting of a direction or target for a particular level of permanent employment of teachers would necessarily be in the best interests of Australian school education or of individual teachers themselves. For this reason it would not seek to intervene in the decisions of State, Territory and non-government authorities on these matters.

Recommendation 5

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government institute research on the level of casualisation necessary to provide employers with reasonable flexibility while safeguarding the interests of teachers.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that State and Territory governments institute research on the level of casualisation necessary to provide employers with reasonable flexibility while safeguarding the interests of teachers.

Response

The Commonwealth Government notes that MCEETYA has established a mechanism to consider biennial reports on teacher supply and demand. The Commonwealth Minister will raise with MCEETYA the desirability of monitoring developments in relation to contract and casual employment as part of this process.

Recommendation 6

The Committee RECOMMENDS proposed new funding for vocational education in schools be retained within the TAFE system, with school efforts focussed on improving links between vocational education and training providers and schools.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation.

Response

The recommendation does not reflect the needs of young people in the labour and training markets of the late 1990s. The proposed measure would narrow the options for delivery of vocational education and training (VET) in schools and restrict the availability of delivery sites. The Commonwealth Government has a clear objective to increase the pathways available to senior secondary students by expanding the provision of nationally accredited VET for these students through school-industry programmes involving school students participating in and progressing to apprenticeships and traineeships. This includes ensuring that an adequate supply of deliverers of VET is maintained.

Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have been implementing user choice principles in the VET sector since January 1998. User choice aims to improve the responsiveness of VET to the needs of clients by encouraging direct, market-based relationships between individual providers and their clients. User choice gives greater power to clients to negotiate training that meets their needs and means that employers can use their preferred training provider. Restricting funding for VET in schools to one provider such as TAFE would confer an advantage to that sector over other providers. It could potentially undermine the user choice in VET principles as agreed by Ministers. Quality and flexibility should be endorsed and a monopoly avoided in the interests of greater client choice and satisfaction.

Recommendation 7

The Committee RECOMMENDS that:

Commonwealth, State and Territory governments establish benchmarks for appropriate levels of funding for technology in schools

the Commonwealth Government reappraise its Capital Grants Programme to ensure that government school funding for technology meets the benchmark funding level established by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA investigate the establishment of bench marks for appropriate levels of funding for technology in schools

Response

Given the current environment of rapid technological growth and diversification in all education sectors, and the differing needs of schools in each State and Territory, it would be difficult to establish precise and uniform benchmarks for information and communication technology (ICT) funding in schools. Most government funding policies are now moving away from the traditional inputs-based approach, to one where funding is determined according to desired outcomes and goals. In the ICT environment, this might include a goal to connect every school to the Internet by the Year 2000, or to provide a specific number of ICT professional development days per teacher per year. These goals vary considerably across States and Territories and across sectors.

Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments have demonstrated a significant commitment to facilitating the use of ICT in schools through a range of funding initiatives. The commitment by State and Territory governments has been particularly significant in the past two years, with most announcing strategies comprising a comprehensive, integrated package of initiatives including maintenance, enhancement and replacement of computer hardware and software as well as improved Internet access.

Perhaps the most significant commitment made by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments is the Education Network Australia (EdNA) initiative. Initiated by the Commonwealth in 1995, EdNA is a national process for collaboration and cooperation between all sectors of the Australian education and training community, focusing on information and communication technology. EdNA aims to:

. maximise the benefits of ICT for Australian education and training, and to avoid duplication of cost and effort between the various sectors and systems; and

. create a culture which will motivate teachers, and students in all education sectors to work together to improve the quality of educational outcomes through the effective and innovative use of electronic networks.

The EdNA process has established a collaborative framework known as the EdNA Reference Committee (ERC) which involves Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, government and non-government schools, the vocational education and training (VET), higher education and adult and community education sectors. Sectoral advisory groups have also been established to provide input to the development of EdNA from each sector's perspective and to exchange information and ideas about the use of ICT in education. This has facilitated cooperation and collaboration across all States and Territories, and ensures that the needs of all education sectors are addressed. It has also led to significant cost savings by avoiding duplication and overlap.

One of the major outcomes of EdNA has been the development of EdNA Online, a unique Internet site which offers many quality features including a powerful search engine, a range of categories through which users can browse to find resources, and access to information about schools, universities, vocational education and training and adult and community education organisations. The website is managed by Education.Au, a non-profit company owned by Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers.

EdNA Online vastly improves communication between peers for both students and teachers, especially those now working in isolation because of geographical or physical factors. It allows improved access to curriculum materials and facilitates joint exploration of topics between teachers and students around the world.

The Commonwealth provides support for computer education, including the use of the Internet, through the Framework for Open Learning Programme (FOLP), which aims to promote coordination and collaboration between States and Territories and between sectors and systems in the use of ICT in education.

In the 1999-2000 financial year, the Commonwealth Government has allocated $2.579 million under FOLP to support increased awareness and use of the Internet and the EdNA website by members of the education community. Activities over the past few years have included support for a range of teacher professional associations to build and strengthen their own electronic networks, and provision of resources to enhance teacher professional development and student learning. FOLP also provides support for the salaries of EdNA project officers in each sector as well as for the technical development of the website.

Other important FOLP activities include a project to provide high quality surplus Commonwealth Government computers and IT equipment to schools, and an educational community access pilot project in rural areas and areas of socioeconomic disadvantage to ensure that all members of the educational community have access to, and understanding of, the uses of technology in education.

The Commonwealth recognises the need to ensure equitable and appropriate IT skill levels for all Australian school children. In late 1997, DETYA commissioned the Australian Key Centre for Media and Cultural Policy at Griffith University in Queensland to undertake a sample study on IT skills of school students. The key objective of this study is to assess and report on the extent to which students are developing skills of information processing and computing. It is intended that the study will produce baseline data about the IT skills of students, programs in place, curriculum materials and the policies of school systems and individual schools.

A survey of the final year of primary school (Years 6/7) and Year 10 in both government and non-government schools was conducted in May 1998. At the same time, principals of the schools and teachers of these students were surveyed. Some 220 principals, 1 300 teachers and 6 200 students completed the survey. Information was collected from key personnel in State and Territory education departments and peak organisations in the non-government sector. Preliminary results from the study were included in the 1997 National Report on Schooling in Australia (ANR). It is expected that the project report, entitled Real Time—Computers, Change and Schooling , will be published by the end of 1999.

Australia is also participating in an APEC project on the Integration of ICT into the learning experience through teacher professional development and pre-service training . Activities include:

. identification and documentation of selected exemplary practices within Australia; and

. participation in an international workshop to be held at the end of October 1999.

In January 1999, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and Arts released A Strategic Framework for the Information Economy , which identifies ten priority areas for action including one to "deliver the education and skills Australians need to participate in the information economy".

DETYA is working with the EdNA Reference Committee and key education and training stakeholders to develop an Action Plan for this priority area.

The key Action Areas of the Plan are:

. People

. Infrastructure

. Content, Applications and Services

. Policy and Organisational Framework

. Regulatory Framework

The Government is to review progress in developing this Action Plan in November 1999.

Recommendation 8

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government reinstate the Disadvantaged Schools Programme as a separately identified and funded programme.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation

Response

As acknowledged in the Report, the Disadvantaged Schools Programme (DSP) has been integrated into a broadbanded Literacy and Numeracy Programme. This recognises that literacy and numeracy skills are central to the educational futures of disadvantaged students.

Educationally disadvantaged students, including target groups for the previous DSP programme, continue as a key focus of the Literacy and Numeracy Programme, with particular focus on the crucial early years of schooling (Kindergarten to Year 3). Funding under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme is targeted towards improving the literacy and numeracy outcomes of the most educationally disadvantaged students and is in line with the Government's priority to foster the acquisition by all students of appropriate literacy and numeracy skills.

The Adelaide Declaration on National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty First Century contains the goal that students should have attained the skills of numeracy and English literacy; such that, every student should be numerate, able to read, write, spell and communicate at an appropriate level .

This goal is supported by a National Literacy and Numeracy Plan that aims to give all children a good start in school, while recognising that there is a wide gap between those who enter school well prepared for learning and those who are least prepared. A key equity measure in countering other forms of educational and social disadvantage is the development of strong foundational literacy and numeracy skills for all children.

State and Territory government and non-government school education authorities are responsible for the detailed administration of the Literacy and Numeracy Programme including the allocation of funds to schools which have the highest need for additional assistance. The Commonwealth's Guidelines for this Programme incorporate those features of DSP approaches which have been most successful in supporting the literacy learning needs of educationally disadvantaged students.

There has been no reduction in the total funding available for allocation to States and Territories as a result of integrating the DSP into a broadbanded Literacy and Numeracy Programme. The Commonwealth makes a very significant financial contribution to support the work of schools and teachers in improving the literacy and numeracy skills of young Australians. The 1999/2000 Budget provides an additional $131 million under the Literacy and Numeracy Programme for disadvantaged school students, making a total of almost $869 million for literacy and numeracy in the next four years to 2002-03.

Recommendation 9

The Committee RECOMMENDS a national recruitment campaign designed to attract high quality applicants to the teaching profession, with costs shared between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA develop a national recruitment campaign designed to attract high quality applicants to the teaching profession.

Response

In 1997 MCEETYA established a taskforce to develop a national teacher recruitment strategy which could be adapted by State and Territory Governments to suit local circumstances as required. MCEETYA subsequently agreed to proceed with market research into and the design of a market strategy. The Commonwealth met half of the cost of this with the States and Territories providing the balance on a pro rata basis. The Taskforce has now been asked to do further work to show how any national campaign materials could be integrated with existing and future State and Territory campaigns, to indicate any links between the campaign and Commonwealth priorities and to detail the cost benefits to States and Territories of collaborating on aspects of developing national campaign materials.

Recommendation 10

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government introduce scholarships for university graduates to undertake postgraduate professional qualifications in teaching.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation.

Response

The offering of teaching scholarships is one possible response of employers to supply and demand issues and the nature of these issues varies from State and Territory. The Commonwealth is not an employer of teachers and it would be inappropriate for it to institute a system of scholarships along the lines recommended.

Recommendation 11

The Committee RECOMMENDS abolition of differential HECS fees. This will remove the particular disincentives now faced by science graduates planning a career in teaching.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation.

Response

The Commonwealth Government believes the introduction of differential HECS contributions creates a fairer system of student payments. It would be inappropriate to dismantle the system as a whole on the basis of considerations applying in a single discipline or profession alone, especially as teacher recruitment and incentives to attract teachers with skills in short supply are essentially matters for teacher employers.

Recommendation 12

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government reinstate funding for the National Schools Network.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation.

Response

The Commonwealth is moving away from funding the ongoing operations of groups in favour of providing support for strategic projects which further the Commonwealth's key objective of

improved student learning outcomes in schools and its national leadership role in school education.

The Commonwealth Government considers that a fee for service approach which links funding to

defined outcomes is a more efficient use of resources than the provision of core funding for bodies whose overall activities, however worthwhile, may not necessarily address Commonwealth Government priorities or areas of interest. The National Schools Network is able to tender for Commonwealth-funded projects and is included in the register of interested bodies wishing to carry out projects under the Quality Outcomes Programme. The institutions involved in the activities of the National Schools Network have displayed enthusiasm and commitment. However, the report does not provide evidence of its stated successes being implemented by other schools and teacher education providers in a manner that enhances the status of the teaching profession. Neither does it take into account alternative methods of achieving the outcomes it proposes.

Recommendation 13

The Committee RECOMMENDS the establishment of a National Teacher Education Network comprising a consortium of innovative teacher education faculties and schools to build upon the work of the National Schools Network and the Innovative Links Project in modelling best practice in the development and delivery of initial and continuing teacher education.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA consider the establishment of a National Teacher Education Network comprising a consortium of innovative teacher education faculties and schools to build upon the work of the National Schools Network and the Innovative Links Project in modelling best practice in the development and delivery of initial and continuing teacher education.

Response

The Commonwealth Government agrees with the sentiment in the Government Senators' recommendation that MCEETYA is the appropriate body to consider the development and delivery of initial teacher education and notes that MCEETYA proposes to establish a Taskforce to inquire into the skills base and qualifications of teachers graduating from university education faculties to establish whether the needs of employers are being met currently and for the future. The Commonwealth Government does not consider that encouraging MCEETYA to undertake other measures relating to teacher education would be productive.

Recommendation 14

The Committee RECOMMENDS the establishment of a national development fund for research in education.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation

Response

Considerable funding for educational research is already available under a number of specific and broader Commonwealth programmes such as the Quality Outcomes Programme, the Literacy Grants Programme, the School to Work Programme and the Higher Education Research Grants Programme. The Commonwealth also provides grants to bodies such as the Australian Council for Educational Research and is constantly evaluating its own contribution to education.

Recommendation 15

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the proposed national professional teaching standards and registration body include among its responsibilities the development of a suggested structure for induction programmes nationally and guidelines to assist schools and government and non-government systems in implementing them.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA include among its responsibilities the development of a suggested structure for induction programmes nationally and guidelines to assist schools and government and non-government systems in implementing them.

Response

The responsibilities and employment conditions of newly graduated teachers are a matter for teacher employers. As the States and Territories are the major employers of new teachers, the Commonwealth Minister will refer the recommendations to MCEETYA. However, the Commonwealth Government is concerned that a single structure for induction programmes may not meet the needs of all new teachers and may restrict the flexibility of schools in addressing those needs.

Recommendation 16

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government reinstate the National Professional Development Programme.

Minority Report

The Government Senators dissent from the recommendation.

Response

The Commonwealth Government agrees that teacher professional development is a necessary part of teacher professional renewal. Where the Commonwealth directs funding to national educational priority areas, provision is made for the professional development of teachers. $7 million over the three years 1997 to 1999 is being provided to support professional development associated with the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Programme. The Commonwealth is also providing $4.6 million over the three financial years 1997-98 to 1999-2000 for the professional development of teachers to deliver civics and citizenship materials under its Discovering Democracy programme.

Teacher professional development is the key element of the Commonwealth Government's new Quality Teacher Programme. The Commonwealth Government has committed $77.7 million over three years for this programme. These funds will be used to update and improve teachers' skills and help lift the status of teaching in both government and non-government schools. The focus will be on professional development in literacy, numeracy, mathematics, science, information technology and vocational education in schools. Assistance will be targeted at teachers who completed formal training 10 or more years ago, casual teachers and teachers seeking to re-enter the teaching force.

The National Professional Development Programme for teachers was a three year initiative that ended in 1996-97. The Commonwealth Government has introduced a more tightly focused approach to the funding of teacher professional development and sees no need to replace its new initiatives in respect of teacher professional development.

Recommendation 17

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the proposed national professional teaching standards and registration body include among its responsibilities the accreditation of professional development providers and courses.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND that MCEETYA include among its responsibilities the accreditation of professional development providers and courses.

Response

As noted in the response to Recommendation 1, the Commonwealth Government is not persuaded that there is a need for a national bureaucracy to regulate the teaching profession. The Report does not demonstrate that the national accreditation of teacher development providers or courses would raise the quality of teaching in Australian schools. There would also be substantial practical difficulties in maintaining an accurate and up-to-date register of accredited providers and making this information available to schools, which are increasingly operating in a devolved environment. The Commonwealth Government is further concerned that any measures to impose external control on professional development courses or providers may restrict flexibility in provision and the ability of local groups to come together on a one-off basis to provide courses designed specifically to meet local needs.

Recommendation 18

The Committee RECOMMENDS that, in line with its acknowledgment that teaching is a profession, teachers' participation in professional development be a prerequisite for their continued registration, or for re-registration.

Minority Report

The Government Senators RECOMMEND, in line with their acknowledgment that teaching is a profession, that State and Territory governments ensure that teachers' participation in professional development be a prerequisite for their continued registration, or for re-registration.

Response

Conditions of employment are a matter for negotiation between teachers and their employers. As pointed out in the response to Recommendation 1, the Commonwealth Government is not persuaded that the evidence supports the creation of a national

bureaucracy to regulate teaching or that there is consensus about the desirability of teacher regulation at the State and Territory level or the preferred mechanism for this. Although the Commonwealth Government supports teacher professional development and has made provision for this in association with funding to address national educational priorities, it would not support a prescriptive approach which could prevent an excellent teacher from continuing to practise solely on the grounds of failure to participate in professional development.

Recommendation 19

The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government require State and Territory governments, as part of their contribution to the National Report on Schooling, to include information on teacher supply and demand in government and non-government schools, with detailed figures to be included in the Statistical Appendix to that document.

Minority Report

The Government Senators support the recommendation.

Response

The current information frameworks for the Annual National Report on Schooling in Australia already require reporting of some information on teacher supply and demand in the section on teachers and teaching. The Report publishes tables on teacher numbers by State and Territory by sector, student-staff ratios and enrolments and graduations in teacher education courses. The tables are now in the body of the report since the separate statistical index was dispensed with in 1995.

MCEETYA has made arrangements for the monitoring of teacher supply and demand and to receive a biennial report through Conference of Education Systems Chief Executive Officers on this. As the Annual National Report on Schooling is a MCEETYA document, the Commonwealth Minister will consult his State and Territory colleagues through the MCEETYA Annual National Report taskforce on the possibility of including relevant material from the supply and demand report in future Annual National Reports.

COMPARISON TABLE—REFERENCES TO RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE TWO PARTS OF THE REPORT

Committee Recommendation

Corresponding Minority Report Reference

No 1 (p ix & pp 21-22)

Recommendation one, pp 253-255.

No 2 (p x & p 90)

Recommendation six, p 256.

No 3 (p x & p 118)

Recommendation two, p 256.

No 4 (p xi & p 126)

Recommendation three, p 256.

No 5 (p xi & p 126)

Recommendation four, p 256.

No 6 (p xi & p 137)

Recommendation five, p 256.

No 7 (p xi & p 151)

Recommendation seven, pp 256-257.

No 8 (p xii & p 161)

Recommendation eight, p 257.

No 9 (p xii & p 178)

Recommendation ten, p 257.

No 10 (p xii & p 178)

Recommendation eleven, p 257.

No 11 (p xii & p 178)

Recommendation twelve, p 257.

No 12 (p xii & p 178)

Recommendation thirteen, p 257.

No 13 (p xiii & pp 202-203)

Recommendation fourteen, p 257.

No 14 (p xiii & p 203)

Recommendation nine, p 257.

No 15 (p xiii & p 216)

Recommendation fifteen, p 257.

No 16 (p xiii & p 227)

Recommendation sixteen, p 257.

No 17 (p xiii & p 228)

Recommendation seventeen, pp 257-258.

No 18 (p xiv & p 228)

Recommendation eighteen, p 258.

No 19 (p xiv & p 247)

Recommendation nineteen, p 258.