Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Raising the Bar (and cost) to become a Teacher

I'm currently enrolled in a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary Science) course, studying part time by distance education. The plan is to change careers in 3-5 years time, and spend 10-15 years as a high school science teacher as my version of "transition to retirement".

When I first had a go at doing the GradDipEd course ten years ago (I dropped soon after starting when I got retrenched from my previous job and had to work long hours getting established in my new job) it consisted of just 6 subjects and 8 weeks practical experience, and cost a couple of thousand dollars in fees. When I decided to enrol again last year the course had changed to increase the number of subjects to 8, and the cost per subject had increased substatially (to around $800 per subject). In the meantime the basis for teacher's salaries had been changed so that overall pay rates were slightly better in real terms than ten years ago, but I would actually be worse off as they no longer count years of relevant professional experience outside of teaching when working out your starting salary level.

They've now changed the course again - from next year they will require 60 days of prac teaching instead of the current 45 days. They are also phasing out the current GradDipEd course and replacing it with a Bachelor of Teaching degree from 2009, The BTeach degree will require completing 10 theory subjects instead of the GradDipEd's current 8 subjects.

I'm not too fussed by the changes, although it will mean at least an extra $2,400 in fees and an extra years to complete the course before I can apply for a teaching position around 2010 or 2011! The extra weeks of prac teaching will help me decide if I really want to become a teacher, and I was thinking of doing an extra curriculum studies subject anyhow (so that I'm qualified to teach both science and IT).

The funny thing is that I'll get the same classification (as a 'four year trained' teacher) when I do the BTeach degree as I would have with the current GradDipEd. By the time I start teaching I'll have completed a 3-year Applied Chemistry degree, and Graduate Diploma in Applied Science, a Graduate Diploma in Industrial Math & Computing, and a 3-year Teaching degree! (and I'll probably also have completed my Masters in IT by then). The starting salary will be around half of my current salary, and after 6 years I'd reach the maximum pay rate, which is about $15,000 pa less than my current wage. If I DO decide to change careers and become a teacher (I won't decide until I complete the course and see how much I enjoy the three months of prac teaching) it certainly won't be for the money.

While I don't mind the move from 45 days to 60 days prac experience, I suspect terminating the GradDipEd course and only offering the BTeach degree is being done by the University in order to get more fees out of the students. The HECS fee of $800 per subject is supplemented by the government, so the Uni receives more the $1,000 per distance education student for each subject attempted. Starting this year the Uni cancelled the residential week each semester that the DE course usually involves, as they had too many distance education students to fit on campus! Since each subject only involves providing a set of photocopied notes, 2 CDROMs and the marking of two essays (which gets farmed out to teaching assistants) the Uni will make a massive profit out of forcing all the current GradDipEd students to transfer to the BTeach course and take an extra two subjects.

Copyright Enough Wealth 2007

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