Student teachers to help relieve staff shortages

Teaching undergraduate Angus White with students from St Clare’s Catholic High School in Hassall Grove in Sydney’s west (The Catholic Weekly/Giovanni Portelli)

The National Catholic Education Commission will facilitate the placement of university students in short-staffed schools as Omicron outbreaks worsen teacher shortages. Source: The Australian.

The NCEC plans to recruit final-year teaching undergraduates as “paraprofessionals’’ across more than 1700 schools, to help tired teachers cope with heavy workloads during the pandemic.

The university students will be paid to work as many as four days a week as casual or part-time teacher aides, while continuing their university training.

Duties will include marking tests and assignments, providing feedback to students, supervising practical lessons, creating classroom resources and patrolling playgrounds – work usually done by fully trained teachers.

They will be paid on a par with teacher aides and learning support officers.

The COVID-19 crisis management for school staffing could be a template for permanent reforms to initial teacher education, under consideration by the Morrison Government.

NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins said the pandemic had exacerbated teacher shortages, and the combination of classroom learning with home schooling had put teachers under greater stress.

She said the recruitment of pre-service teachers to take over many administrative and student support duties would leave classroom teachers “free to teach”.

The students will be recruited from the Australian Catholic University, which enrols the most education students of any university and will provide “mentoring’’ in the classrooms.

The Victorian government already hires pre-service teachers as “tutors’’ to help in classrooms, but the NCEC initiative is the first to embed students in schools as part of the permanent workforce.

FULL STORY

School’s in for university students ‘rescue teachers’ (By Natasha Bita, The Australian

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