The NSW Minister for Education, the Hon. Adrian Piccoli MP, met Deans and Heads of Schools of Education from universities around the State this week to discuss the universities’ vital role in producing high-quality teachers.
The meeting was in Armidale, where the University of New England was hosting the 2012 Conference of the NSW Council of Deans of Education.
Mr Piccoli said he was keen to develop the relationship between his Department and universities “to help ensure that we get the best teaching graduates possible”.
It was also important to work together to develop strategies to support teachers throughout their professional careers, he said. Associate Professor Peter Aubusson from the University of Technology, Sydney, who was elected as the new President of the NSW Council of Deans of Education on the first day of the conference, agreed that it was “critical to equip teachers to learn throughout their careers”.
Despite the large number of teachers graduating from NSW universities, Mr Piccoli said, there were still shortages of secondary science and mathematics teachers – and teachers in remote areas.
He explained that the Council of Deans of Education would play an important role in the preparation of a discussion paper on all these issues to be released at the end of July.
The conference, which ran from Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 June, brought together about 75 people from around the State. As well as Deans and Heads of Education and other academics from all of the NSW teacher education providers, they included representatives of the NSW Department of Education and Communities and teachers’ professional organisations such as the NSW Institute of Teachers and the NSW Board of Studies.
“It’s been an extraordinarily significant event,” said Professor Stephen Tobias, Head of the School of Education at UNE, referring particularly to the location of this year’s conference in regional NSW. “It’s laid a wonderful foundation for moving forward in partnership with the Department – and in particular the local regional office.”
While he agreed with the Minister that there were legitimate questions to be asked about the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of students entering teaching degree programs, Professor Tobias said it was important to recognise that “it takes all kinds of teachers to teach all kinds of students”. He said that, while UNE had set one of the State’s highest ATAR scores – 77 – for entry into its teaching programs, it also accepted students on the basis of their school principal’s recommendation. “That is often a better predictor of successful completion than ATAR scores,” he said.
This year’s meeting marked the 25th anniversary of the annual conference of the NSW Council of Deans of Education.
Clicking on the logo of the NSW Council of Deans of Education displayed above reveals a photograph of (from left) Professor Stephen Tobias, the Hon. Adrian Piccoli MP, and Associate Professor Peter Aubusson.