Australia

'A crisis': Australian high schools struggle with chronic shortage of maths teachers

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A new report says there is a "drought" of qualified maths teachers.

Less than one in four Australian students have a qualified mathematics teacher in each of Years 7 to 10, according to a new report.

On Friday, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) released the report warning of a chronic shortage of dedicated high school math teachers.

"[And] the situation is about to worsen with a projected annual increase of 650,000 new students," the report said.

"The problem with the under-supply of post-primary mathematics teachers began in the late 1980s and has grown slowly worse."

Professor Tim Brown talks to SBS News.
Professor Tim Brown talks to SBS News.
SBS News

AMSI director Professor Tim Brown told SBS News Australia has a problem with teachers who have "inadequate preparation and knowledge in mathematics" teaching the subject.

"We often have people out-of-field teaching mathematics; people who may have trained to be a sports teacher but find themselves teaching mathematics because of the lack of teachers who have done the training," he said.

"We find that students are not able to learn their mathematics well, because they haven't got teachers that are able to show them how it can be applied in the real world and how it's a fascinating subject in its own right."

The report was released on Friday.
The report was released on Friday.

He said the "only viable solution that will make a real difference is if we take some of our wonderful teachers who are able to engage students and retrain them so they are able to teach mathematics very well".

While in a statement, co-author and AMSI Honorary Senior Fellow Jan Thomas OAM said the worsening crisis is a result of more than three decades of inaction by Australian governments, both federal and state.

"This paper demonstrates the historical failures that have contributed to the current crisis in our classrooms."

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