Question Time: Education Workforce

Mr BURNELL (Spence) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Education. How is the Albanese Labor government fixing the teacher shortage, and why is that important to supporting a skilled workforce?

Mr CLARE (Blaxland—Minister for Education) (14:56): I thank the sensational member for Spence for his
question. In the years ahead more jobs will require more skills. More jobs will require you to go to TAFE or touniversity, and that is why the—

Mr Joyce interjecting—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister of Education will pause. The member for New England is continuing to
interject through every answer. He was cease interjecting. He is warned, and if he interjects one more time he will leave the chamber. The Minister for Education will be heard in silence.

Mr CLARE: As I was saying, more jobs will require you to go to TAFE or to uni, and that’s why the National Skills Agreement announced today and the extra 300,000 fee-free TAFE places are so important. But before you go to TAFE or to university, you need the sorts of skills that only a schoolteacher can give you, and we don’t have enough teachers. That is why in a few weeks time applications will open for new Commonwealth teacher scholarships worth up to $40,000 each. They’re designed to encourage more young people who want to be a schoolteacher. But to get one you will also have to give something back. In return for the $40,000 scholarship you’ll have to commit to teach for four years.

We’re improving teacher training. Ask most teachers and they will tell you that, when they started, they didn’t feel ready for the classroom. That leads to a lot of teachers leaving in the first year or two. That is why education ministers have agreed to reforms to make sure that teaching students are taught the fundamentals at university about how to teach children to read and write and how to manage disruptive classrooms. Ask teachers, and a lot of them will also tell you that they don’t feel valued by their community. Recent surveys show that most teachers don’t think that what they do is valued by us, and we need to change that.

We all remember that special teacher who changed our life, and that is what a national campaign that will kick off in a few weeks is all about. Mr Speaker, I want you to imagine a little boy called Mattias. He is five years old, he’s in his first year at school at the moment in Queensland, and he’s blind. At his school athletics carnival this year he wanted to run without a cane, just like everyone else, so his teacher takes his hand. He takes off, and all his mates start cheering. Who wouldn’t want to be the teacher that made that possible? That teacher is Mrs Cantwell. She is one of eight teachers from every state and territory who will feature in this campaign when it kicks off in a few weeks time. It’s a campaign you will see online, on bus stops, in shopping centres, on billboards, and it’s designed to encourage more Aussies to want to be a teacher because the truth is there is no other profession like it. Everything that our teachers do helps our children to aim higher, to be kinder, to work harder, to be braver and to run faster. Because our teachers believe in our kids, they encourage our kids to believe in themselves, and that makes that the most important job in the world.