The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) says the Australian Government’s National Review of Teacher Registration will tackle key pressure points on the mathematical pipeline, including the need for greater transparency regarding teacher qualifications and out-of-field teaching in mathematics.

sydThe Institute’s 2017 Discipline Profile for the Mathematical Sciences shows at least 26 per cent of Australian Year 7-10 maths classes do not have a fully trained mathematics teacher. In provincial and remote areas, 31 per cent and 26 per cent of mathematics teachers possessed no tertiary qualification in mathematics.

“Now endemic, current figures most likely do not reflect the issue’s true extent and impact, particularly in regional and remote areas where educational disadvantage is a social and economic threat to communities,” says AMSI Director, Professor Geoff Prince.

With out-of-field teaching compounded by a lack of transparency about Australian teacher qualifications, the review is an important opportunity to build an accurate picture of the current national teacher workforce.

“A clearer understanding of the qualifications within the current teacher workforce including the need to attract more mathematics graduates to the sector is critical to improve teacher quality,” says Professor Prince.

According to AMSI Schools Program Manager and Choose Maths Project Director, Janine McIntosh, difficulty attracting and retaining mathematically qualified teachers is putting pressure on regional schools. AMSI is working with the BHP Billiton Foundation to address this through the Choose Maths Project.

“Regional schools account for a large majority of the 120 schools working with AMSI’s Choose Maths project, with outreach officers regularly delivering on-the-ground teacher training and support, as well as outreach activities to strengthen mathematics learning,” she says.

With data showing that students who fall behind minimum maths standards by Year 3 are unlikely to catch up to their peers, AMSI is also keen for greater understanding undergraduate primary teacher training across all states.

“Our experience is that many primary teachers lack confidence in their ability to teach mathematics in a way that engages students. It is critical we are equipping these foundational educators with the skills they need to equip students to continue learning,” says Janine McIntosh.

In welcoming the review, Professor Prince said AMSI looked forward to seeing the panel’s recommendations and to greater transparency regarding teacher qualifications and training.