Call to Action
The data presented in this report highlight a number of serious problems that will inhibit the growth of Australia, both economically and culturally. It is imperative that all governments and education authorities implement rigorous workplace planning for teaching of science in schools as a matter of urgency, in order to remedy the current situation and prevent its reoccurrence. Such planning should be focused at the discipline level and not simply at the generic area of “science”. It must involve upgrading the discipline background of science teachers along with their pedagogical skills. It should be across sectors and states.
Previous commissioned surveys by the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) reported a continuing decline in enrolments in the enabling sciences and mathematics at the secondary and tertiary levels of education. Furthermore, it is recognised that very few science graduates are selecting a teaching career.
The Council feared that the nation was entering a cycle with the only possible outcome being a dearth of graduates with qualifications in the enabling sciences and mathematics. Certainly there would be insufficient graduates skilled in science to support the development of a knowledgebased economy.
Australia suffers from an absence of comprehensive data on the age profile of secondary school science teachers, their qualifications in the discipline areas they are required to teach and their views regarding the teaching profession. This lack of information hampered the review by Professor Kwong Lee Dow titled Australia’s Teachers: Australia’s Future which looked at, among other things, future workplace needs.
The ACDS strongly believes that the future of science is too important for this paucity of data to continue. Hence it commissioned this report.
Anecdotal evidence abounds concerning the number of teachers who are unqualified to teach science in particular discipline areas, but are required to do so for various reasons. The ACDS recognizes the enormous contribution of science and mathematics teachers in our schools – both at primary and secondary level.
The ACDS sees this report as a basis for providing them with further support. The report should also further link science as taught at university with science as taught in the school sector.