The state government will specifically target mathematics and science teachers within its commitment to hiring 250 new teachers.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said with Tasmania’s increasing focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), it was necessary to address the imbalance of teachers working outside their area of expertise.
“It still needs to be a focus,” Mr Rockliff said.
“There’s been some improvement, but with our particular focus on STEM, we do have to fully train specialist maths and science [teachers].”
Before the state election on March 3, the Mathematical Association of Tasmania issued an urgent warning that Tasmania had a critical shortage of specialist teachers capable of delivering high-level maths classes.
Anecdotal reports of high school physical education teachers being required to present level 3 and 4 mathematics and science classes were acknowledged by Mr Rockliff as a consequence of physical education teaching being a popular career choice in the recent past.
“I agree with [the association’s] concerns,” Mr Rockliff said, noting the issue had been flagged with him at the start of the previous term of government.
“My understanding was that we did have an imbalance.”
MAT president Brett Stephenson said the association welcomed the commitment.
“Any news that includes a commitment to target maths and science specialists is fully supported by the MAT,” he said.
“The MAT are pleased that the government is taking the need for more mathematics teachers seriously.”
Mr Rockliff said the education department was actively working with the University of Tasmania to ensure graduate teachers had the skills necessary.
Western Australia and the Northern Territory have actively targeted science and maths teachers by recruitment interestate, but Mr Rockliff said he was confident Tasmania could source the new teachers from within UTAS graduates.