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Young teachers can’t spell, count

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Young teachers are entering classrooms with a lack of practical training and insufficient knowledge of literacy and numeracy, a federal government review into teacher education has found.

The report, headed by Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor Greg Craven, found graduates were ill-equipped with content knowledge and lacked support once they entered the profession.

National standards were deemed weakly applied, while university courses had “significant pockets of objectively poor practice”.

• Teaching students flunking literacy
• Top students shun teaching as potential career path

A survey of 200 secondary teaching undergraduates earlier this year found many had significantly poorer literacy standards than expected and struggled to spell words such as ‘acquaintance’ and ‘conscientious’.

In an attempt to raise standards, the government will introduce mandatory national literacy and numeracy tests for graduates in 2016, which they will need to pass before they graduate.

The report recommends student demonstrate they are in the top 30 per cent of the population in personal literacy and numeracy.

Primary school teachers will also be encouraged to specialise in subjects like maths, science and languages.

The government, however, has rejected calls from the Australian College of Educators (ACE) for minimum entry scores for education degrees to be increased to 70.

Speaking to Fairfax, Mr Craven said “quality teachers” couldn’t be selected based on how they performed in Year 12.

“What matters is how teachers come out of university, not how they go in,” he said.

The report made nearly 40 recommendations, including screening aspiring teachers on their personal characteristics, and more rigorous assessment of teaching degrees.

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