The peak body for regional universities has backed an Abbott Government plan to address teacher training, but has urged a new advisory group to look at state government as well.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne this week announced the new group would assess how universities were preparing teachers to enter the school workforce around the country.
It is part of a wider review of education already underway, including on funding for schools, as the government seeks to improve quality at all levels of schooling.
Regional Universities Network chairman Peter Lee said he supported Mr Pyne’s nomination of Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven to head the committee.
Mr Lee said he was also encouraged by Mr Pyne’s comments that it would not focus on an “ATAR ranking” for people enrolling in university to become teachers.
“In regional universities especially, many of our students aren’t directly from school – they are mature-aged, where an ATAR is irrelevant,” he said.
“A better way to ensure teachers are well-prepared is to take into account all their experience, and other qualities that can’t be assessed under the ATAR.”
But Mr Lee said it was “not just about what happens in their development”, urging the new advisory group to look at professional development in the state government system.
He said what often happened in small country schools, was “the department will appoint a fresh graduate, leave them there for a few years and hope they can swim”.
“But the review needs to look at what mentoring and extra support we can give these teachers, especially those in regional areas, to ensure they are better prepared for the classroom.”