Want The Best and Brightest to be Teachers? Pay Them More!

nsw introduce testing teaching students
NSW to introduce entry tests for teaching students
nsw introduce testing teaching students

NSW to introduce entry tests for teaching students

The NSW Government are intending to introduce tough new tests to ensure only the best and the brightest get in to university to study teaching. Many issues have been raised around this including the fact that the skills required to get a high score on a test aren’t necessarily the skills needed to be the best teacher in the classroom. There we agree. But when it comes to tests being the way to get the best and the brightest, I completely disagree.

To me, the easiest way to get the best and the brightest in the teaching profession is to provide better support and better pay.

I recently met a wonderful young man at a dinner. Being a gentleman he walked me to the station through the city which gave us a chance to discuss a wide range of issues as we strolled. It’s not often you get this opportunity with someone you have just met, so we took advantage of it. One of the things we discussed was his aspiration to become a teacher. His hesitation, he told me, was the $20k pay cut he would have to take to enter into teaching as a profession. Even at the top pay level for teachers he would be earning a fraction of what he could earn on his current career path. This was an intelligent, caring young man. Someone who is passionate about learning, about educating others. Exactly the kind of person we should want to be a teacher. And he probably wasn’t going to be – because of the money.

For me, that’s a big issue. And putting aside the attitude of society towards teachers (everything from “you get too many holidays” to “oh, I could never be a teacher, you must be an angel”) the answer to getting better people into the profession seems pretty obvious.

Want the best and the brightest to do teaching? Pay teachers more.

Higher pay would mean teaching is more accessible to more people, like my new friend who couldn’t afford to take the $20k pay cut as he has a mortgage.

Higher pay would mean more people want to be teachers. Higher demand for entry would raise the ATAR. Bam – only the best and the brightest can get in. No extra tests required.

Want a good quality of education in public schools? Pay public teachers more. Make the best and the brightest want to work there. Make teaching a more respected and desirable profession.

I’m not saying our current teachers aren’t the best and the brightest, my best friend and my husband are both teachers and both incredibly intelligent people, but both teach because they want to help others. That’s a very noble and amazing thing, but we can’t consistently rely on there being enough highly intelligent people who are willing to earn less than they could elsewhere, to put up with attitude from students, parents, society at large, all for a genuine want to help others, to weed out those who think teaching is going to be a bludge with lots of holidays and not much work (and probably don’t last too long in the profession, to be honest, so waste everyone’s time and money).

And we shouldn’t have to.

The next generation of minds are in the hands of these people. Why wouldn’t we want those hands to be the absolute best?

For the love of teaching – Just pay them more!

Do you think teachers are underpaid? Do you feel teachers are undervalued? Do you think they should be paid more?


  • Kris2040

    You know what? Those requirements for literacy and numeracy are what you have to achieve right now. Because my HSC is so old, I was told that I had to do maths (on top of our maths pedagogy subjects) to catch up. At the moment you need to have Band 1 (or 4, not sure how the HSC works these days), ie top 25% in the equivalent of Maths in Space from my day. That was the second lowest level of HSC maths when I went through. A few of us did it because we enjoyed Maths, and knew we’d cruise easily in it without dropping it completely. I got 90-100 percentile for that.
    So when we looked into it, and went to the NSW Institute of Teachers, I was good to go on and not do the special Maths subjects.
    We also have a compulsory Literacy subject (which I’ve picked up this semester after having had to drop it last year), which teaches all the basics of and analyses literacy. The major assignment for it is a progression grid mapping your own literacy based on a small test we’ll be doing this week (old school dictation and correcting grammar, stuff like punctuation etc). Towards the end of the subject we do a comparison based on results from this week and how much your language and literacy has evolved.
    This subject is not so much to do with teaching literacy, it’s getting everyone up to scratch and sharpened up.

    I freely admit to being a pedant with teachers – they bloody well SHOULD know how to spell properly, how to do maths, how to explain science, what goes on in society. I have no problem with the idea of sitting tests at the start of your degree.
    We had so many people fail our Maths pedagogy subject (constantly bearing in mind that this is a Bachelor of PRIMARY Education course) last year that the co-ord ran an intensive re-run over January.
    I don’t know why people get up in arms about this kind of thing, especially when it’s there already. That’s the only problem I have with it – it’s what happens for primary teachers anyway!

    • http://kikiandtea.com Tamsin Howse

      I don’t actually object to the tests, I just don’t think they will achieve what the government wants to achieve.

      • Kris2040

        Yeah I know you don’t, and I think they’re a bit superfluous, because, like I said, we’re already required to reach a specific standard, by the NSW Institute of Teachers anyway – I don’t see the point of making it a big policy thing when it is already a requirement!

  • Jessica Chapman

    One of my friends studying to be a doctor said, “if money was no object I think I’d become a math teacher.” I thought that was pretty telling, because being someone who wants to be a writer I always thought if you could get paid for what you wanted to do then you would do it. But if people who want to become teachers are choosing to be other things when there are plenty of jobs in teaching then something is wrong.

    • Kris2040

      Lots of teachers get out after about 3 years too. I strongly believe the pay should be better.
      I think because it’s traditionally a female job, and it’s also seen as a “calling” job, that we don’t see teachers getting paid more.
      In other teaching outrage: the school I did my prac at’s principal doesn’t believe in male primary teachers, so has *cough* let the male teachers go *cough*. So much wrong with that I don’t know where to start.

      • Jessica Chapman

        WHOA! That’s truly terrible on so many levels!

        I’ve always thought being a doctor was more of a “calling” job and they get paid better than teachers.

        • Kris2040

          I really think it’s because it’s considered a “calling” job, like nursing, where women gave their lives up to do it as nuns (brothers too). So that’s why they get away with the shit pay – you do it for the love of it, why do you need to get paid well?, you know? Same with social workers – stuff that has traditionally been provided by churches gets rubbish pay that is nowhere near commensurate with the training involved or the day to day crap.

          • http://kikiandtea.com Tamsin Howse

            Or how needed these jobs are! Honestly, when I think about what people get paid for running mystery shopping programs compared to what nurses and teachers get paid I think it’s a bloody waste of money. Who cares in someone is greeted within the first 30 seconds of entering a store when in a nurse’s day it’s about ensuring that person who’s having a heart attack doesn’t die.

            (Obviously this comparison is purely because of my previous job, and one of the many reasons I didn’t care enough to stay)

      • Maree Talidu

        I agree with you about accreditation, just because you graduate doesn’t mean your education as a teacher is over. Doing my accreditation was more painful than the actual double degree (High school teacher) and the Institute use it to sift through the competent and incompetent. Knowing I’ll have to do it again in the future puts me in a fetal position.

        • Kris2040

          Don’t you just have to go to professional development things? I joined the Primary English Teachers Association and the PD days they do usually seem to count towards your accreditation.
          I only know what I’ve seen for Primary teachers, though. High School may well be different.

          I’m not too worried- there’s a fair bit of stuff I want to do but it won’t fit into my degree, so I’m happy to do those courses etc as they come up to keep my accreditation current. Doesn’t faze me at all.

          • Maree Talidu

            Yes, we all do PD, but the accreditation process is a whole different process. While PD days count, in that you can say you have attended a course or seminar, you still have multiple elements to address. It takes months. I’d say High school must be different, because I’m yet to meet a High School teacher who was blase about the process. It’s a shocker.

          • http://sonjaouise.wordpress.com SonjaLouise

            My mum is primary school teacher, who got accredited in 2011 (mature age student). You are required to do an amount of hours of PD, but also loads of paperwork. As Maree said, it takes *months*!

          • Kris2040

            Yeah, still doesn’t really worry me that much. I guess coming from the navy where everything has to be signed off in triplicate to say that you can do it, it’s not a freaky concern to me.
            Will probably be different when I’ve got 2 things left to do and my supervisor hates me though.
            I still don’t have a problem with having to be current in your profession and keeping up to date.

          • Maree Talidu

            I also have no problem staying ‘up to date’. However, with all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, accreditation was an intensely stressful time. And I wasn’t some straight out of school, no life experience person either. I nursed in Oncology for five years.

            I’ve personally known teacher who quit after having theirs returned as the slightest mistake on paperwork put a hold on the whole process. It was mostly common sense, but they make you jump through hoops. The slightest mistake (say having a typo) will have it returned to you. Every element of competency is absolutely pulled apart and has somehow been designed to be more of a waste of time, than actually being beneficial.

            With all due respect, I think until you’ve done it, it doesn’t come across as stressful or concerning. But it is a highly intense experience, which I’m glad is behind me, for now. You yourself could be the best teacher in the world, but if you cop a less than pleasant supervisor and support staff, it’s hell.

          • Kris2040

            Maree, stop saying with all due respect. We all know what it means and it just serves to piss me off.

            It really doesn’t faze me. It’s just paperwork that needs to be done. And it shouldn’t have typos. We’re teachers. We should be able to type something up and check it for typos.
            People who quit because of a hold up in paperwork probably don’t want to be there. Seriously. I understand paperwork and bureaucracy. I don’t like it some of the time, but the idea behind it is sound. If it’s a crappy system but the only way it’s done, it’s the only way it’s done.

          • Maree Talidu

            My gosh, you really DO have a chip on your shoulder! I actually WAS trying to show respect. If you interpret it differently and it’s ‘pissing you off’, I’d say you have a serious issue with people who dare to question or challenge or ask you to explain your point of view. I was simply sharing some insight from experience. Big mistake.

            As for the typos? They weren’t MINE. They were made by one of my superiors. Paper work is MY achilles, it’s my issue. I admit that. I struggle with the bureaucracy at times. That is the area of teaching that is my weakest. And clearly, it’s not an issue for you, which is something I envy.

            My strengths are patience and tolerance, classroom management. I wasn’t trying to offend you. I still maintain that until you’ve put in some solid time in a classroom, you can’t 100% be sure of how it will work out for you.

            I’m not going to argue with you. That was never my intention. I was just giving some insight, on a topic that I’m well versed in. I refuse to ‘walk on eggshells’ just because I don’t know how you will react.

          • Kris2040

            Maree, you’re very dramatic!

            If you don’t understand and acknowledge that “With all due respect” means the complete opposite (to the point that if you use the phrase in the defence force, you will get charged with insubordination), that’s not my problem.
            There is no need for passive aggression. Just state your point: I think you might need to do the process before passing judgement. Easy.
            I have no problem with people asking questions or having a different opinion.

          • Maree Talidu

            I was using it as “I respectfully disagree”. Not: “I think you’re an idiot.”

            State my point? Easy. This is my profession. I’m aware of what I’m talking about. Until you have undergone the process of accreditation, I don’t believe any future teacher can be *that* confident that it’s not going to be a difficult and stressful process. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. That’s my point.

  • Maree Talidu

    Here’s my thing: how do you accurately judge one teacher as better than the other? Is it classroom results? Classroom management? There are areas that probably aren’t my strengths (all the paper-work/politics) but I go above and beyond for the emotional and physical welfare of my students, as I view my role as a teacher as more than simply ‘educating’ them and making them academically strong; I believe we need to look after the student as a whole. So yes, making sure they are learning and making progress is important, but so is making sure they feel safe and worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. I know teachers who’ve been teaching for 30 years who clock in at 9am and clock out at 3:30pm, almost teaching on autopilot. I’ve been teaching for 8 years, but due to their seniority, would they get the pay raise over those of us who also get results but are viewed as ‘newbies’? It’s a tough call.

    • http://kikiandtea.com Tamsin Howse

      You don’t, do you? I think all teachers should be paid more. Same levels as currently based on experience, HOD, coordinator, whatever the internal structure of teaching is, but with every level paid more than it currently is.

  • Denyse Whelan

    I want to comment.. But it’s too much for the space…any time you want a guest poster, let me know… Am currently working with teachers in NSW Inst Teachers observations for top 2 levels but can’t give too much info out…except that I think it’s time teachers did become accredited as in other professions… And yes, there is a real problem keeping teachers in the classroom when the pay stays the same once top level is reached…and I’m also working with Uni as a practice supervisor. Have you read my blog? It’s had a few changes and is more geared to help families understand what schools and schooling is about. Denyse Whelan

    • http://kikiandtea.com Tamsin Howse

      We always want a guest poster, Denyse. Email me tamsin@kikiandtea.com :)

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