Outstanding teachers to help some of Australia’s most vulnerable students

Media Release
  • Minister for Education and Training

Up to 300 of the country’s top new teachers will start work in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged schools thanks to a $20.5 million grant from the Turnbull Government.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham today announced additional funding for the Teach for Australia (TFA) program which accelerates high achieving university graduates, young professionals and career changers with non-teaching backgrounds into disadvantaged schools through an innovative ‘work and learn’ pathway that leads to a Masters of Teaching.

Minister Birmingham said the new funding for TFA was in addition to the Turnbull Government’s education election commitments included in today’s MYEFO figures, including support for internships to get PhD students into the workforce, funding for Tasmania’s higher education vision and 1,200 scholarships to help tackle South Australia’s high unemployment rate.

“The Turnbull Government’s $20.5 million funding boost for Teach for Australia means up to 300 outstanding new teachers will be placed in disadvantaged secondary schools in regional areas and low-socioeconomic communities and schools that are usually difficult to staff,” Minister Birmingham said.

Minister Birmingham said teacher quality was the single largest in-school influence on student performance in Australia.

“Recent results in NAPLAN and international tests demonstrated that Australia’s school performance is at best plateauing, and at worst going backwards despite record levels of investment,” Minister Birmingham said.

“To break the cycle and reverse the decline, we are implementing evidence-based measures that get our brightest university graduates, and particularly those with a passion to teach subjects including science, technology, engineering and maths, into disadvantaged classrooms.”

Minister Birmingham said TFA had already attracted a wide range of high quality applicants who brought to the classroom extensive real-world experience in diverse fields including mathematics, law, and even atmospheric physics.

“The TFA program focusses on teacher education and continuous improvement through high quality and intensive mentoring, classroom observation, feedback to improve teaching practice and ongoing professional development,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These are key features of the high ranking schooling systems of Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai and Singapore.

“There is a growing body of evidence that the TFA program is making a positive impact on and in schools. The data shows that after two years in the classroom almost 90 per cent of principals considered TFA graduates to be more effective teachers than other graduate teachers with the same level of classroom experience.”

Minister Birmingham said the funding for an additional two cohorts of the TFA program demonstrated the Turnbull Government’s commitment to increasing teacher quality, especially for Australia’s most vulnerable students. The $20.5 million funding boost builds on a $56.85 million commitment to TFA since 2008.

“Initiatives like Teach for Australia and the Turnbull Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes measures build on our work over the last three years, including our reforms to teacher education through the Ministerial Advisory Group, our review of the National Curriculum to declutter it and refocus on the basics of literacy and numeracy, and funding through the National Innovation and Science Agenda for STEM school programs,” Minister Birmingham said.

“As today’s budget papers show, the Turnbull Government has locked in our education election commitments for initiatives that have been shown to work, delivering skills and training for Australians that will set them up for life.”

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government’s careful economic management ensured funding for programs like Teach for Australia could be extended and why all education election commitments would be honoured, including:

  • $150 million for the University of Tasmania for its campus relocations and expansions that will deliver education and employment benefits for the local community

  • $48 million for The Smith Family’s well-regarded Learning for Life program and scholarships to help an additional 24,000 disadvantaged students get the most out of their education

  • $31.2 million to encourage women and girls to study and work in STEM fields, including the development of a National Career Education Strategy and 1,400 internships for PhD students through the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute

  • An expansion to 12 new sites of the successful Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) pilot of partnerships between schools and businesses that ensures students have the skills they need for local jobs

  • $24 million for 1,200 scholarships for undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational education and training students to undertake qualifications in South Australia.

For more information

Media Contact: media@education.gov.au
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