The federal Education Minister was in the ‘hot seat’ in a recent news podcast where primary-aged kids grilled him on his education policies.
Minister Jason Clare joined the Squiz Kids Today podcast, where young Australians asked him about teacher shortages, the point of NAPLAN, and why politicians are always yelling at each other.
Squiz Kids Classroom is a curriculum-aligned differentiated classroom resource “made by teachers, for teachers” and includes Squiz Kids Today, a weekday news podcast hosted by journalist Bryce Corbett.
On the teacher shortage
Oscar, a 12-year-old from Goulburn, asked Mr Clare what he thought about the teacher shortage.
“There aren't many jobs in our country more important than teachers, and over the last 10 years, we've seen a drop in the number of people that are going to university to become a teacher,” Mr Clare said.
“I want more people when they finish high school to want to become a teacher.”
Mr Clare said he would support this by offering scholarships worth up to $40,000 to encourage high school leavers to consider teaching.
The minister also admitted that teachers are overworked and underpaid saying, “It's about making sure that teachers have got more time to teach.”
Frida from Balaclava Melbourne, who's 10, asked the minister, “My mama says NAPLAN is not all that useful because it doesn't test how kind you are, or how good of a friend you are, or how well you can sing and dance or play a sport. Do you agree?”
Mr Clare responded that NAPLAN doesn’t measure many of the essential things in life, but it does help to understand how students are going with reading, writing, spelling and maths.
“All of those things are really important for teachers and parents so that your teacher knows where you're at and whether you need extra help,” he said.
Mr Clare said NAPLAN is also helpful in his job as the minister to direct school funding to children who need extra support.
On improving education
Hope, from Kew East in Victoria, is 10 and asked Mr Clare about his plans to improve education in Australia, to which the minister acknowledged that the current funding system isn’t equal or fair.
“Our public schools aren't funded to the level that they need to be, and I want to make sure that we use the extra funding that we need to put into our schools to make sure that we help children who really need help,” he said.
The minister also emphasised that almost every job being created requires students to finish high school and then move on to tertiary education.
“We need to make sure that we're doing the right things, funding all of the resources that teachers need in primary school so the children who need a bit of extra help get it,” he said.
On politicians behaving poorly
Nine-year-old Felix from Moorooka in Brisbane asked the education minister why politicians in Canberra “always seem to be shouting at each other,” stating, "If I did that in class, I'd be sent out.”
“Sometimes it looks more like a football match than a classroom or a parliament,” Mr Clare said.
“Sometimes that's what happens when you have 150 people all in a room, and half of them are on one side cheering for one team, and half of them are on the other side cheering for the other team.
“For the rest of the day, it's usually the opposite,” he said.
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