Yesterday Commonwealth Education Minister Jason Clare announced details of the new Commonwealth Teaching Scholarships Program - but there is a catch, the scheme only applies if the teacher recipients are willing to commit to teach for four years (undergraduate) and two years (postgraduate) in government-run schools or early learning settings.
The 5,000 scholarships will be available for new teaching students studying from 2024 and will be targeted at high-achieving school leavers, mid-career professionals, First Nations peoples, people with disability, people from whom English is an additional language or dialect and individuals from rural, regional and remote locations or from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Scholarships of $40,000 each will be available for undergraduate teaching students over four years and $20,000 for postgraduate students over two years.
To encourage more teachers to live and work in remote Australia, students completing their final year professional experience placements in these communities may receive an additional top-up payment of $2,000.
In addition, the scholarships will include a ‘commitment to teach’ requirement, which means recipients must be willing to commit to teach for four years (undergraduate) and two years (postgraduate) in government-run schools or early learning settings. Teaching in any non-government setting, including Christian schools, will not meet this requirement.
As indicated in a letter to the Minister sent earlier today, we cannot understand why these scholarships discriminate against those who want to teach in a faith-based environment.
We pointed out to the Minister that it was the Gillard Labor Government that finally addressed funding inequities through the needs based and sector blind funding model established under the Australian Education Act 2013 (Cth). The provision of these new scholarships, with eligibility tied to the governance of the schools, risks opening up this debate once again, with the hundreds of thousands of parents in non-government schools potentially disadvantaged as a result.
We will keep schools updated on whether the Minister amends this requirement.
Download Letter to Minister