Home » Australia’s Best Teachers: Education Minister Jason Clare calls on students to choose teaching as a career

Australia’s Best Teachers: Education Minister Jason Clare calls on students to choose teaching as a career

Kids have been urged to put teaching at the top of their career wish lists.

Federal* Education Minister Jason Clare wants today’s students to become the teachers of the future and help make a difference in the lives of others.

Mr Clare’s appeal came as News Corp launched its Australia’s Best Teachers* series to celebrate the “hugely significant*” work teachers do.

“The most powerful cause for good in this country is education and the most important part of that is the teacher at the front of the classroom,” Mr Clare said.

“A lot of people want to do something with their life that changes the lives of others, that helps other people, well, this is it.

“I want more young people to burst out of high school and want to become a teacher rather than a lawyer or a banker.”

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Mr Clare said his government was spending $328 million on the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan – a strategy with 27 proposals to address a concerning national teacher shortage*.

Part of this will include $10 million to “help raise the status and value of the role of teachers”.

“Teachers changed my life,” Mr Clare said.

“I’m a kid from Cabramatta, whose mum didn’t go to high school and dad finished in Year 9.

“There was no one to tell me what I could do after high school. My teachers told me that, they didn’t just teach me how to read and write, they taught me what’s possible.”

A recent national study by Monash University found 70 per cent of teachers did not feel respected* by the Australian public.

Journalist and broadcaster Joe Hildebrand said he was “horrified” to learn how many teachers believed the public didn’t respect them.

“I came from a poor background but I went to a state primary school and state high school and was then able to get into one of the best universities in the country,” Mr Hildebrand said.

“This is a great system but it is struggling at the moment and we desperately need to save it or our country will suffer and millions of kids won’t reach their full potential.”

He said teachers were “the absolute centre of the education system”.

“This sounds like an obvious statement but it’s something we often forget or fail to appreciate*,” Mr Hildebrand said.

“Without passionate and dedicated teachers equipped with the latest evidence on learning there is no education system. We need to make sure they have the highest training, the highest support and the highest respect.

“I have no doubt that the vast majority of Australians have enormous respect for teachers and it is catastrophic that teachers themselves do not realise this. And it is catastrophic because without teachers we are all doomed*.”

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Griffith University vice chancellor Professor Carolyn Evans said research consistently* showed a positive relationship between teacher status and better student academic performance.

“It is critical* we shift the public perception* of teaching to a high-grade status profession,” Prof Evans said.

“Increasing the status of teaching as a profession has a ripple effect, ensuring a wider pool of quality candidates apply for teaching and stay to enjoy the benefits of the profession in and out of the classroom.”

MEET SOME OF AUSTRALIA’S BEST TEACHERS

Andrew McGregor, principal, Haileybury Rendall School in the Northern Territory

Making the move to any new school is always an adjustment* of sorts, but for principal Andrew McGregor relocating from Victoria to Darwin to take up a position at the Haileybury Rendall School was much more complicated than acclimatising* to the weather.

The most important difference to preface is that 15 per cent of students in his current school are First Nations*, whereas at his previous post only four of 1700 students identified as indigenous.

“It’s been an exciting life change,” Mr McGregor said. “And culturally, the lessons I have undergone are life-changing. I’ve come from nothing to learning about the cultural history of Australia. I am learning from my students and enriched by the experience.”

Mr McGregor proudly states his Darwin school, which was only established in Berrimah six years ago, has made huge inroads* with indigenous students from remote areas.

“If we look at NAPLAN data, the kids in our program are now on average three to six years ahead in their learning based on what is happening in remote indigenous communities,” he said.

Julie Murphy, principal, Elizabeth Vale School in South Australia

The simple act of breathing is considered a super power at Elizabeth Vale Primary School, and while the concept may seem childish, its application is part of a sophisticated approach to education.

Understanding the power of breathing techniques is part of the school’s commitment to trauma-informed education* – following the Berry Street Education Model – and Principal Julie Murphy said the results spoke for themselves.

“Our school is diverse with students from all over the world and for a whole range of societal and historical reasons, many of our children are having experiences which could be categorised as childhood trauma, that sometimes manifests in ways where their wellbeing and their readiness to learn is compromised,” Ms Murphy said.

“We’ve been fortunate to have access to a whole range of people who have done a lot of work around positive psychology, education and trauma-informed education.”

GLOSSARY

  • federal: the federal government raises money to run the country by collecting taxes on incomes, goods and services, and company profits, and spends it on national matters
  • Australia’s Best Teachers: a series celebrating Australia’s most inspirational and innovative teachers
  • significant: important or noticeable
  • national teacher shortage: a challenge currently faced by school communities across Australia, particularly in rural, regional and remote areas.
  • respected: admired and approved of by many people
  • appreciate: recognise the full worth of
  • doomed: something unpleasant is certain to happen
  • consistently: in every case or on every occasion
  • critical: of greatest importance
  • public perception: the belief or opinion held by many people based on how things seem
    adjustment: the process of becoming used to a new situation
  • acclimatising: change to suit different conditions of life, weather, etc
  • First Nations: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the first peoples of Australia, meaning they were here for thousands of years prior to colonisation
  • inroads: to start to have a direct and noticeable effect on something
  • trauma-informed education: trauma-informed teaching starts with an understanding of how trauma can impact learning and behaviour

EXTRA READING

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Why is there a push for more students to become teachers when they leave school?
  2. What percentage of teachers did not feel respected by the Australian public, according to a recent national study by Monash University?
  3. Who is the Federal Education Minister?
  4. Where does Professor Carolyn Evans work as the vice chancellor?
  5. Describe one way we can all help to elevate the status of teachers.

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Teacher appreciation
Teachers certainly have a great opportunity and privilege to positively shape the lives of young children. While you might not always get along with all of them, hopefully you appreciate the job they are doing.

Write a card or letter to your favourite teacher, now or in the past, stating what you most admire about them, as a person and as a teacher.

Teachers would love to hear from you and hear what they are doing to be a positive influence on you.

If you feel comfortable, pass or send your card on to this teacher.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
What do you think the Government should include in their new proposals to make teaching a more sought after career, and keep teachers in the system rather than changing jobs?

Work with a friend and write your suggestions below.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
When I grow up

Have you thought about what you want to do when you grow up? What is it? Why are you thinking of that job?

Have you ever considered teaching?

What do you think it would be like to be a teacher?

Write an advertisement for the local paper to convince people to enrol in an education course to become a teacher. Or if you don’t think teaching is a good job, write an advertisement to convince people not to listen to the education Minister and to choose another career path.

Whichever route you choose, make sure you use emotive and persuasive language to ensure your message is heard.

Use your VCOP skills to edit and up-level the piece to make sure you have a clear writer’s voice all the way through the piece.

Don’t forget to begin and end your piece with a hook to capture the audience’s attention, and then end with impact.

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