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International demand for secondary teachers


Brigid Veale
19 September 2005
Southern Cross University has expanded its graduate teacher training programs for secondary teachers, with an increased intake earlier this year and a similar increase expected for 2006 at the Lismore, Tweed Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour campuses.

SCU secondary education program co-ordinator Dr Brian Kean said there was an international demand for secondary teachers.

"Whether you want to work in Cape York or New York it really is a very solid career. The qualification is international and portable. It's dealing with people and no longer poorly paid. It's a relevant qualification and in 20 years time the qualification will still be current," he said.

"Our expanded programs at SCU are also an opportunity for local graduates thinking of becoming teachers to train in their own region, as the graduate programs are available at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Gold Coast."

Taking advantage of SCU's expanded graduate teacher training programs is a small group of Canadian students, ranging in age from 23 to 29, who came to Australia earlier this year for the one-year full-time Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary).

Sarah Shantz, 25, a former editor at an academic publisher in Toronto, said with the end of her SCU program drawing near she was considering applying for work in the Northern Territory next year.

"It's been a good year, an experience to study in another country and the climate has been warm! There are some interesting opportunities along the way such as my volunteer work in the local koala rescue hospital," she said.

Tobin Kern, 27, a former adult educator from Southern Ontario, has a partner in Victoria, Australia, and is unsure whether he will end up working in Canada, Australia or elsewhere.

"This graduate diploma gave some scope to consider different curricula. I've looked at the NSW syllabus and the syllabus at home from Ontario. That's useful — looking broadly and comparing, and not just feeling safe with the syllabus of one state or province. We will probably end up teaching in a variety of situations and education systems," Mr Kern said.

Earlier this month the group joined another 85 Southern Cross University trainee teachers on a one-week visit to see first-hand teaching and life in rural and remote schools in western NSW.

Mark Fraser, 27, with an undergraduate degree in history and a background in farming, is attracted by the portability of a teaching qualification, and is interested in travel.

"I'm attracted to teaching because it's working with people. I've always thought it could be a way of making a difference in someone's life. It can impact, be an influence," he said.

Ms Shantz said Canada had very high entry scores for graduate teacher programs, few places available and in many cases required very early application, up to 10 months in advance. Next year SCU expects a total of about 25 graduate trainee teachers from Canada at its three northern NSW campuses.

SCU offers a one-year Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) to graduates with a first degree in a discipline related to a teaching area. For graduates with a major in non-teaching areas, a fast-tracked two-year Bachelor of Education (Secondary) program is available. Secondary teaching areas available are: visual arts; music; science; personal development, health and physical education; modern languages; human society and its environments; dance; drama; mathematics and English.

Dr Kean said a secondary teacher's starting salary was $45,000, progressing up to $75,000 by the eighth year of teaching. He said a principal might earn about $120,000.

Information sessions on studying with SCU will be held in the evenings at the Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Tweed Gold Coast campuses on September 20, 27 and 28 respectively. To find out more or reserve a place phone 1800 626 481. For specific information on SCU's teacher training programs, contact the School of Education on (02) 66203620.

Photo caption: Canadian students (from left) Sarah Shantz, Tobin Kern, Kyle Hagan, Kojo Millington and Kristin Goddard have come to Australia to complete the graduate teacher training program at SCU.