Television Interview with Narelda Jacobs – 10 News First: Midday – Thursday 23 March 2023


SUBJECTS: Release of Teacher Education Expert Panel Discussion Paper; 100 days until Cheaper Child Care

NARELDA JACOBS: Back to basics, that’s a new mantra for our ailing education system as the government works to overhaul it in the wake of damning results in literacy and numeracy testing. Federal Education Minister Jason Clare joins us now. Minister, thanks for joining us at Midday. Now, you’d be very critical of the current system, which has taken years, decades, to get here. Is it now a system that is fixable?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: You bet. But it takes political will and it takes a lot of work to bring the country and all Education Ministers together to tackle it. I know Education Ministers right across the country understand how serious this is and want to work together to fix this.

There are very few jobs in Australia that are more important than being a teacher. It’s an incredibly hard and complex job, but all of us know that this is a life changing job. Teachers change people’s lives. We don’t have enough of them. Too few people are enrolling in teaching courses at uni, too many people are dropping out of those courses at university, and too many people are leaving the profession once they become a teacher. Now, what this is focussing on is the second of those.

How do we make sure that more people finish their teaching degree at uni? And how do we make sure that they’re prepared for the classroom when they finish that degree? This all started a couple of months ago when I brought together teachers and principals from around the country here to Canberra. Teachers that have won awards, some of the best teachers in the country all said the same thing. They said they didn’t feel when they left university that they were ready to teach, that they’ve learnt what they needed in the classroom at uni to get them ready for the classroom at school.

What this Discussion Paper is all about is identifying how do we help young students at university to get the skills that they need to teach literacy and to teach maths to kids at primary school. How do we make sure also, that they can deal with bad behaviour, manage the behaviour of students in schools, neurodivergent kids as well. And how do we make sure, this is a big part of it, that we give these students at uni the real, comprehensive, practical experience in classrooms before they even finish their university degree.

JACOBS: Now Minister, you’re also working to attract new teachers and lure professionals from other fields into teaching. At a time when there are worker shortages all around the country, how are you going to be attracting professionals into teaching?

CLARE: I reckon there’s a lot of people out there who, when they left school, went off and became an engineer, or they might have become an accountant or a lawyer and now might be thinking, “hey, I’d really like to be a school teacher”. To do that you’ve got to go and do a master’s degree at university. That can take two years. That’s a lot of time out of the workforce without earning an income. What this report is looking at is, how do you make sure that you can get all of that study done at university, but also get paid while you do it, so that we can attract more people that are in other jobs in the workforce to think about becoming a school teacher.

JACOBS: Now Minister as part of that, attracting teachers and anyone back into the workforce, is that all about providing child care, is that an element of this new package?

CLARE: That’s separate, but you mentioned child care. Today, it’s a hundred days until the cheaper child care legislation that we passed through the Parliament last year will start. That will cut the cost of child care for more than a million Australian families. Any mums and dads that are watching right now will know that child care is essential, but it’s also expensive. It’s gone up by about forty-nine per cent in the last decade. That’s why the legislation we passed last year is important. It’ll mean that if you’re a family on a combined income of a hundred and twenty thousand dollars, and you’ve got one child in care, it will cut the cost by seventeen hundred dollars a year. That’s real money and it’ll make a real difference to a lot of families over the next twelve months.

JACOBS: All right, Jason Clare, thanks for joining us at Midday. Appreciate it.

CLARE: Thanks Narelda, Cheers.