Teaching course tightened

Catholic College Wodonga principal Darren Hovey.
Catholic College Wodonga principal Darren Hovey.

The Victorian government’s decision to raise the minimum ATAR requirement for teaching courses to 70 has led a Wodonga principal to question whether academic performance alone constitutes a good teacher.

Under the new rules, year 12 students would have to score an ATAR of more than 65 to get into an undergraduate teaching course from 2018, which would be raised to 70 by 2019. 

Catholic College Wodonga principal Darren Hovey welcomed the reforms, but stressed a prospective teacher could not just be divided into those who achieve an ATAR above 70 and those who don’t.

“It creates a great conversation around professional standards and what’s necessary to be a teacher,” he said.

“At the same time, there needs to be a balance of making sure that the teachers we get also have the ability to relate to kids, to create those relationships and be passionate about working with children.”

The move is an attempt by the Victorian government to buck the trend of lowering ATARs required for teaching: the average score needed was 57.35 for teaching courses this year, while some allowed entry for an ATAR of just 30.

Xavier High School year 10 student Brooke McAlpin, who recently received a scholarship to study at the University of Melbourne and wants to pursue teaching, said the tough new rules wouldn’t put her off trying to attain high marks.

But she said it did seem a little unfair to those not academically-inclined, arguing a good teacher did not rest solely on book-smarts alone.

La Trobe’s Wodonga campus offers a postgraduate masters of teaching and therefore would not be directly affected.

Education Minister James Merlino said 60 annual scholarships for students from regional areas to study teaching at Victorian universities from 2018 would be rolled out.

“These reforms are about putting people first by making sure our teaching courses are the best in the country and attract the highest quality students,” he said.