Qualifications Guidelines Review
The Office of School Education maintains guidelines linking teacher qualifications to areas of teaching.The purposes of the subject area guidelines are:
- To facilitate the employment of appropriately qualified teachers To guide the development of tertiary course construction and modification To facilitate teacher training course selection To guide teacher retraining and upgrading of qualifications To assist with professional development program development and selection To assist with school organisation and teacher allotments in schools
- To assist in career decisions for prospective teachers.
These guidelines have not been revised for some years and a reference group has been established to conduct a review in 2001/2002.
As part of its review of these guidelines, DEET invited submissions from organisations in early December, 2001. Further details of the review, including a copy of the current guidelines can be found on the DEET website at: http://www.deet.vic.gov.au/deet/consultation/teacherqualifications.htm
Below is a copy of the submission made on behalf of the MAV.
Response to the Qualifications Guidelines Review from The Mathematical Association of Victoria
The Mathematical Association of Victoria is a non-profit professional association with over 1600 members throughout Victoria, including institutional members with multiple staff. We are a membership driven association which provides a voice, leadership and professional support for mathematical education.
TEACHER SHORTAGE/TEACHING OUT OF FIELD:
The MAV supports the recent initiative of the State Government in relation to the employment of 121 teachers to be deployed in the areas of Literacy, and the trial of the Certificate of Applied Learning. However, we would also urge the government to duplicate this program in the areas of Numeracy and Mathematics, where there are clear and urgent needs.As detailed in the recent Auditor General's report, "there is clear evidence that some subject areas in secondary schools, such as mathematics…, are currently in shortage". Indeed, the report states that Mathematics is one of the subject areas with the lowest number of expected graduate teachers per vacancy, suggesting that in 2002, this is an area which will experience the most difficulty in recruiting teachers. However, despite identifying this issue, the report failed to determine the percentage of those teaching mathematics in schools who were actually qualified to do so - thus it is possible that the actual shortage of suitably qualified mathematics teachers may be more serious than the report suggests.The MAV is concerned that in secondary schools many of those who are required to teach mathematics, especially in Years 7 and 8, are strictly teaching out of field. This point has been confirmed for LOTE and IT by the Auditor General's report (7.64) and our own research suggests that it is also a major problem in mathematics. This situation will not improve without strategic and urgent action. If students are not well taught at Years 7 and 8, they will not be able to realise their potential in studying mathematics at Years 9 - 12.
The MAV supports organisation that allows all teachers to teach in their area of qualification; that they be given allotments that are manageable; that Heads of Faculty in each school are qualified, and have time to supervise and monitor the development of excellent curriculum and syllabus.
Currently, the subject qualification guidelines for mathematics teaching at both the primary and secondary level are inadequate. There also appears to be considerable inconsistency between different subject areas - for example, the guidelines seem more stringent for a primary LOTE teacher than they are for a mathematics teacher.
The MAV recommends the following minimum qualifications for teachers of mathematics in schools:
To hold the position of Teacher or Leading Teacher the minimum qualifications should be:
- a major in mathematics in a B.Ed(P) degree from a recognised tertiary institution, orone year study in mathematics within a B.Ed(P) degree, or
- study deemed to be of equivalent standing.
Teachers of post primary mathematics should have studied both the discipline of mathematics and mathematics education at a tertiary level. The minimum qualifications should be:
- at least one sixth of a three year degree such as a BA or BSc in the discipline study of mathematics and have studied mathematics education through methods of teaching mathematics at a secondary level in an Education year, or
- study deemed to be of equivalent standing.
While this is the minimum to teach mathematics in a secondary school, greater study is needed to teach in the senior secondary school. Ideally teachers of years 10-12 should hold a major in mathematics (that is, a sequential study in mathematics equivalent to one third of a three year BA or BSc degree) as well as mathematics education studies which focus on mathematics pedagogy in the secondary school. This is the situation we should be moving towards for the senior secondary school.
Consistency in the use of these guidelines is very important but recognising that some teachers may obtain their qualifications in some other state or country, we would advocate congruence rather than consistency.
TERTIARY COURSE STRUCTURE:
One of the findings of our research has been that graduates entering the workforce are often critically unprepared for teaching practice. It is very important that tertiary institutions maintain a close dialogue with DEET about the results of important research projects, with the Early Years Numeracy Research Project and the Quality Teacher Project being two good examples. It may be necessary to monitor the amount of contact hours that are devoted to mathematics in education courses, so that students can be appropriately prepared.Teacher retraining and the upgrading of qualifications:The MAV strongly supports the notion of the provision of programs and courses to assist:
- Teachers who find themselves teaching mathematics who have insufficient discipline studies to upgrade their discipline qualifications
- Teachers who find themselves teaching mathematics without having studied mathematics education to study in this area.
There should also be a requirement that all teachers of mathematics regularly upgrade their mathematics education through PD and other programs of study.
The MAV strongly supports any initiative that would assist in upgrading the qualifications of teachers. Our Professional Development program focuses on a wide range of areas, but we would welcome the opportunity to be involved in any programs that would help improve the qualifications of mathematics teachers.
CAREER DECISIONS FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS:
The MAV encourages the government to put in place appropriate structures which will enable all teachers of mathematics to have successful and financially rewarding careers in the profession. This will include some alternative career path which enables excellent teachers of mathematics to stay in the classroom if they choose to, without limiting their seniority and consequent salary package. In order to remedy the current shortage of current teachers of Mathematics in Secondary schools, which will clearly worsen as currently qualified teachers retire in the next five years, the Government must provide a substantial number of scholarships in the area of Mathematics Education. In the UK, trainee mathematics teachers are given a salary of £6,000 during their post-graduate teacher training year, have no tuition fees, and there is a "Golden Hello" of £4,000 when they start to teach. This is equivalent to approx A$30,000. In Australia they get none of this and have to pay HECS of $3,000+ on top of previous HECS. Thus their British counterparts are nearly A$33,000 better off.
The MAV strongly supports the Office of School Education's review of Qualifications Guidelines, and we hope that the committee will incorporate our recommendations. We would be happy to provide any further information or comment as required.
DR MAX STEPHENS