Rob Stokes with students at Ryde Secondary College Rhett Prado, Anita Karac-Branezac, Rob Stokes, Mitchell Im and Michelle Ke. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Rob Stokes with students at Ryde Secondary College Rhett Prado, Anita Karac-Branezac, Rob Stokes, Mitchell Im and Michelle Ke. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts

Revealed: The overhaul for better NSW teachers

HIGH school science and maths teachers will have to study the subjects extensively at university before they can set foot in a classroom under an overhaul of mandatory qualifications.

Education Minister Rob Stokes said he was toughening the prerequisites for science and maths teachers as he expects them to be "masters before they educate apprentices".

It comes after the federal government announced every Australian school will have at least one specialist teacher in both subjects.

But while the federal plan won't be a reality for five to 10 years, Mr Stokes will enforce his plan for NSW teachers within months.

"Minister Birmingham announced that he expects specialised STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) teachers in high schools within five to ten years. I say we start today," Mr Stokes said.

Mr Stokes said the overhaul of teacher training will improve student success in HSC science courses.

The quality over quantity checklist.
The quality over quantity checklist.

NSW is already the only state to have minimum requirements in each subject to qualify as a teacher for each high school subject area.

"The notion that you can instruct, inform and inspire students without a firm understanding of the course content is crazy. Teachers should be masters before they educate apprentices," Mr Stokes said.

Under the changes - which will begin in 2019 - physics, chemistry, biology and environment science teachers will now need to demonstrate a solid foundation in their core subjects and the HSC curriculum to progress to teaching in NSW schools.

"Teachers should not only be celebrated, they should be revered. These new standards mean the community can continue to have confidence that NSW teachers have deep discipline knowledge," Mr Stokes said.

Under the new rules, teachers of Year 7-10 science and HSC investigating science will have to have completed at least six units of science at university.

This will have to include at least one unit each of physics, chemistry, biology and earth and environment science.

HSC-level physics, chemists, biology or earth and environment science teachers must now do at least four units at university in the exact area they intend to teach.

Meanwhile years 7-12 maths teachers and HSC-level psychics' teachers must now study at least four units of maths and at least four unit of physics at university.

Under current rules these teachers can study just two units of physics and chemistry and qualify as science teachers - now they must do in-depth study and specialise in what they teach.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes.

Graduates can use the new requirements to qualify to teach across multiple courses if they complete multiple prerequisites.

The changes will also make it easier for science experts to become a teacher.

Previously someone with a degree or even a doctorate in physics, chemistry, earth and environment science or biology could not necessarily become a physics or even a science teacher.

These people needed to complete additional university study in another area of science.

But now this person will be able to complete a Masters of Teaching and become a HSC science specialist in their area of science.

In the case of physics being their area, they will also be able to become a K-12 maths teacher if they have studied maths at university.