Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5160 ..
Teaching is not a profession that appeals to the best and brightest university students. Why is this? Because of the highly regulated industrial relations landscape in ACT public schools, pay is low compared to other professions. From the day you start work your pay increases are determined by the length of your service, not the quality of your teaching. Over the years the status of the teaching profession has been allowed to decline. There is no incentive for a keen young teacher to stick it out. Just as under the old Soviet system, there is currently no incentive to do anything more than simply turn up. There are no incentives and no rewards for hard work. Great teachers are not finding their careers rewarding and students are not getting the outcomes that they deserve.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot?
MR DOSZPOT: Minister, our dedicated teachers in Canberra are very keen on self-development and professional development. How do you plan to address the fact that teachers cannot get access to professional development opportunities because there are no adequate relief teachers available to assist them?
MR BARR: I thank Mr Doszpot for the question. The government certainly supports professional development opportunities for teachers. As part of the enterprise bargaining arrangements, I think one important initiative is that there is a professional development fund both for classroom teachers and for principals.
The question of access to that fund is an interesting one because by and large those funds are utilised from year to year. There are some years in which the entirety of the amount is not expended and is then able to be rolled over into future years.
This clearly is an area of concern. The ACT Principals Association has highlighted in their submission to me, in terms of reform around school-based management and principal autonomy, that this is an area that they would further attention to. So I agree with the shadow minister that it is an important area that we must address but it is secondary to the most important issue, and that relates to the concerns that I have outlined in response to the previous questions.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question?
MS PORTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Would the minister advise what the ACT government proposes in order to help great teachers have more rewarding careers and, most importantly, to get better outcomes for students?
MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The Grattan Institute research shows that we need more flexibility in our teaching workforce to get the best outcomes for students. We need to attract and retain the best classroom teachers. The answer to this is recognising these teachers sooner, promoting them faster and paying them more. We must attract the best graduates by offering them a career path, pay and recognition that would make teaching a profession of choice again.
In short, we must be able to promote the best teachers sooner. I am determined to achieve this change for the ACT. I am determined that there will be incentives for