Question - TEACHER LITERACY AND NUMERACY TEST


This government came to office with a very firm set of commitments in relation to literacy and numeracy. The Liberal government's literacy guarantee policy contains 10 elements where we looked at ways, from opposition, of how we could enhance the offering that was available for the children of South Australia through our education system to deliver a better outcome to improve their results, to improve their capacity, and particularly to support those students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. There are a range of measures that have already been put in place.

Today, I am particularly pleased to be able to confirm to the member for Heysen, and all members of the house, that another of those initiatives is able to be ticked off as completed. From 1 January 2019, new teachers will be required to sit literacy and numeracy tests and demonstrate that they have literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the population in order to achieve their teacher registration.

This follows an agreement between the education department and South Australia's Teachers Registration Board, which met last Friday to confirm this in consultation with the deans of education at the four South Australian tertiary institutions that provide initial teacher education programs. This government is delivering where the previous government, despite agreeing to this concept in principle, failed to deliver and failed to enact.

This move of course brings South Australia in line with the Eastern States and confirms that, while we are so supportive and so grateful for all those young people who decide to study to become teachers, we believe that the first needs in the education department should be the needs of the child. It is our expectation that teachers in the teaching service must be able to satisfy the requirements of a literacy and numeracy test if they are indeed to be instructing our children. That is our expectation, that is the commitment we took to the people of South Australia, and today I am very pleased to be able to say that we are delivering on that commitment. The agreement will ensure that every new graduate teacher has a proven knowledge of literacy and numeracy. This, of course, comes on top of other work the government is doing towards confirming our literacy guarantee policy.

We said that we would establish a literacy guarantee unit within the Department for Education led by an experienced educator and supporting 13 coaches who will support the work of at least 500 teachers per year in their professional development, particularly working with them to understand the needs of the teaching workforce that didn't go through university at a time when phonics was understood to be an important part of the teaching curriculum.

Ingrid Alderton, the head of the unit, has now been appointed. She is a respected educator and has had a long history, particularly in disability education. She is a widely respected educator. The recruitment of those 13 literacy coaches continues, and we are looking forward to them getting to work. Ingrid Alderton, as the unit manager, has been appointed. She is also developing a model for the unit's provision of support for teachers in consultation with relevant respected academics and other community groups and experts, including SPELD SA and Dyslexia SA.

The year 1 phonics check is a commitment that we were very pleased that the former government came on board with, and I congratulated the former education minister on coming on board with this just before the election. That will be rolled out in term 3 this year. Indeed, information about that phonics check is already being provided to all schools as part of the Liberal government's 100-day commitments.

The literacy guarantee unit will also be delivering literacy guarantee conferences for professional development opportunities for teachers. There will be breakfast programs in all schools that need them. There will be NGOs providing early literacy programs as a result of the work this government is doing. We will confirm all the commitments we made as part of our literacy guarantee. This government is getting on with the job for the children of South Australia.