Minister sets high standard

EDUCATION Minister Adrian Piccoli will not allow exemptions from his plan to raise the teaching standards in NSW schools, despite a proposal from Charles Sturt University (CSU) that would allow it to admit students who did not meet the minimum ATAR requirements. 

Most teaching students coming into CSU have an average ATAR of about 65.

Part of the minister’s plan to raise teaching standards would mean a minimum ATAR of about 75 and a minimum band 5 achievement for three HSC subjects, including English. 

In 2012, 16 per cent of students who sat the standard English exam met that criteria. 

CSU put forward a proposal last year that would allow it to take in poorer-performing HSC students and enrol then in a type of bridging course, which would bring their maths and English skills up to scratch.

However, a spokesperson for the minister said Mr Piccoli would not accept any exemptions for regional universities. 

Executive dean of education,  professor Toni Downes said rather than focusing on how a student went in their HSC, the focus should be on how they went at university. 

She said CSU would never graduate a student who did not deserve to be a graduated.

“Some students do not do well in school for various reasons ... we give them a second chance and if they don’t put in the work we give them their marching orders, we do it all the time,”she said.

“I don’t think how you did at school should be held against you forever.”

Professor Downes said she could understand why Mr Piccoli wanted to raise the teaching standard, but it should be done inside universities, and any plan for more stringent minimum requirements would place regional schools at risk of fly in, fly out teachers.

“We already do it in parts of Western Australia, Northern Territory and isolated Queensland, we’ve never really had to do it in NSW,” she said. 

“I want to take locals and turn them into good teachers.”

She said any plan for a minimum requirement would jeopardise the teaching profession, because students who met the minimum requirement were more likely to student law or medicine. 

The changes take effect in 2015.

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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