Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones confirmed that a total of 2,600 teachers have taken advantage of a State Government scheme that enables secondary and primary school teachers of maths, science and technology who do not have a background in the subjects to expand their abilities. Furthermore, as part of Queensland's global recruitment drive to arrest the skills shortage, 275 maths and science teachers have applied to work and live in Queensland.
"We made a $3 million investment to upskill our teachers because we know 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations in our state require STEM knowledge," said Jones.
Of the 2,600 teachers undertaking further study (at Griffith University or Queensland University of Technology), 1000 took courses in digital technology, 650 opted for primary science, 640 took secondary maths and science, 130 took secondary maths and 100 took both senior chemistry and senior physics. Such has been the popularity among teachers for the government's 'back to school' program, that Jones has confirmed that a third round of training courses would be offered early in 2017.
The statistics regarding the program have been released in the wake of the announcement that Australia's students are lagging behind the likes of Kazakhstan for performance in maths and science, according to the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In addition, AiGroup has revealed that 30 per cent of employers are unhappy with the level of basic numeracy among school leavers.
The Australian Education Union’s 2016 State Of Our Schools report, published earlier this year, found that 76 per cent of Queensland principals admitted that some maths and science classes at their schools were taught by teachers who were not fully qualified in the relevant subject areas, stark findings that precipitated both the upskilling program and the recruitment drive.
Thousands of teachers in Queensland have gone back to university in the last six months in order to improve their skills and knowledge as the nation endures a dearth of quality maths and science teaching.