The federal government will focus on improving the quality of new teachers but won’t force the states to boost training for those already working.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne says teacher quality is more important than funding for schools, but he won’t “infantilise” the states by demanding improvements.
Mr Pyne says the latest international test results showing Australian school results continue to drop is “a very bad report card” for the former Labor government’s increased spending on schools.
“They increased real spending on education by 10 per cent and our results declined,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results also show that for Australia, teacher quality is the most important determinant of outcomes for students.”
The government has agreed to spend an extra $2.8 billion on schools over the next four years, in line with what Labor proposed in its needs-based school funding model.
But only states that signed up to the deal before the election – NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT – will have to stick to guarantees to improve teacher standards and student outcomes and to put up their own extra money.
Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory will share $1.2 billion of commonwealth cash without having to give the same guarantees.
“We don’t believe in infantilising the states,” Mr Pyne said.
“I can’t control what the states and territories do about their professional development of teachers, about who they employ, who they dismiss.”
Mr Pyne said his focus was on improving teacher training at universities to boost the quality of educators in the system.