BY RICHARD WILLINGHAM AND THOMAS HUNTER
VICTORIAN primary school students will have greater access to maths and science teachers if Coalition leader Ted Baillieu is elected premier in 22 days, the opposition claims.
Mr Baillieu yesterday made his second education pitch in as many days, with a $29.3 million package to invest in 100 specialist maths and science teachers in state primary schools.
”When it comes to science and maths, there is a shortage of teaching specialists, shortage of maths teachers and science teachers, and those with a science background,” he said.
Advertisement: Story continues below The plan also includes scholarships for 100 science graduates each year to enrol in the one-year diploma of education to become teachers.
The education pitch was Mr Baillieu’s second policy announcement this week in the marginal seat of Mount Waverley, held by Labor’s Women’s Affairs Minister, Maxine Morand.
Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said there was a ”very significant and growing shortage of science and maths teachers”.
”From that point of view the scholarships are a very good start to try and turn that around,” Ms Bluett said.
She said the specialists would be a good resource but questioned whether they would be doing the same job as numeracy and literacy coaches already in Victorian schools.
The executive director of the Mathematical Association of Victoria, Simon Pryor, said teachers’ salaries needed to be more attractive to entice science graduates.
”There is a worldwide shortage of mathematicians, so that just means if you have got mathematics under your belt then you are in a position to command an enormous starting salary – for example, in our mining sector,” Mr Pryor said.
Education Minister Bronwyn Pike said the government had already funded specialist science and maths teachers.
”Labor announced a $90 million energising science and mathematics education strategy in August 2009, which included $46 million to fund 200 specialist maths and science teaching and learning coaches at our schools,” she said.
Ms Pike also called on the opposition to submit its policy for independent costings by Treasury. Mr Baillieu said the Coalition would submit its costing to an independent auditor before November 27.
– The on-again, off-again Liberal candidate for the seat of Richmond, publican Tom McFeely, has decided not to quit his party.
The owner of well-known Collingwood gay nightclub the Peel had said on Wednesday that he would run as an independent after the Liberals banned him from using an ”inappropriate” photograph in campaign material.
But yesterday he told radio station MTR he had changed his mind after a ”serious chat” with Mr Baillieu and was now a ”very, very, very happy little Liberal camper”.