Push to abandon two-year master’s degrees

Castle Hill High, Alexandria Park Community school, Northbourne Public and Murrumbidgee High each had more than 10 vacancies last month.


The one-year postgraduate diploma of education currently held by about 60,000 teachers across the country was phased out from 2016, with students now completing a two-year master’s program and passing literacy and numeracy tests, while undergraduates pursue a four-year degree.

The number of people awarded postgraduate qualifications in education fell by 23% in about a decade.

Glenn Fahey, an education researcher at the Center for Independent Studies, said the two-year master’s degree is a “regulatory relic” and that longer courses don’t guarantee new teachers are more prepared for the classroom.

“About 60,000 teachers hold a one-year postgraduate diploma. Are we implying that there is something wrong with their skills? If we can say with confidence, as evidence shows that these teachers are as effective and knowledgeable in the classroom as their peers, then It would weaken the case for extending eligibility,” Fahey said.

“We need more teachers, but we’re creating more barriers to make it harder to be a teacher.”

Report author Rob Joseph said the assumption that the longer the degree, the higher the standard was unfounded.

“Longer degrees don’t guarantee new teachers are better prepared for the classroom. It’s the quality of training time, not the quantity, that leads teachers to classroom readiness,” he said.

There has been a surge in applications in the first year of the pandemic, figures from the University Admissions Centre, which only collects postgraduate applications to some NSW universities through UAC, show. Enrollment for 2022, however, is at a six-year low of 580.


Teaching standards are set by the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, whose deputy chief executive, Edmund Mison, said a year wasn’t enough time to learn how to teach well.

“Teachers need to be well-prepared, which we don’t think can be done in 12 months of equivalent full-time study,” Mison said.

In some cases, a one-year teaching degree may be appropriate, says Claire Wyatt-Smith, director of ACU’s Institute of Learning Sciences and Teacher Education.

“A one-year postgraduate taught degree may be appropriate if the first degree a student completes covers the content knowledge and skills of the course content that person will be teaching,” she said, adding that ensuring students have adequate classroom experience crucial.


A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said the number of permanent vacancies in state schools fluctuated throughout the year for a number of reasons, but most job changes occurred towards the end of the school year.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said it was difficult to switch mid-career, especially when you have a mortgage and kids, which is why he asked his panel of teacher education experts to consider options such as paid internships.

Shadow federal education minister Alan Tudge welcomed the CIS report, which backed the Coalition’s position on primary teacher education.

“Understandably, not many professionals are able to take a two-year mid-career sabbatical to pursue teacher training. Shorter paths are needed if we are to make this an attractive option for the best and brightest, said Tudge.

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