The High Achieving Teachers Program (HATP) is an alternative pathways program designed to select, develop and place around 200 participants from various fields, deemed to have the potential to become high quality teachers, in secondary schools experiencing teacher workforce challenges. 

“This program is about attracting people with the skills, knowledge and commitment to become high-quality teachers,” Federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham said in a statement.

“In particular, we want to attract people with experience and qualifications from a range of industries to help pass on those skills to future generations and perhaps even spark their interest in different fields.”

The Australian Education Union (AEU) however, is concerned that applicants would not need any type of tertiary qualification before entering the classroom, with tender documents only specifying “professional or academic experience” gained outside of teaching.

There would also be no minimum training requirements for candidates before they begin teaching, the union claimed.

“The High Achieving Teachers Program shows once again that Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham doesn’t value the work of qualified teachers,” AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said.  

“Minister Birmingham thinks anybody can be a teacher, with no initial training, via one of these private-sector ‘alternate pathways to teaching’ programs.

"However nothing could be further from the truth.

"Teaching is a challenging profession requiring specialised training and experience,” she added.

Janet Fellowes, senior lecturer within the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, has called the program “misguided” and “uninformed”. 

According to Fellowes, it is absolutely necessary for teachers to have knowledge of best practice.

“Without knowledge, there’s no framework that they’re using to make decisions about childrens’ education ... behaviour, innovation and personal and social development as well,” she said.

“They need all of the background knowledge that they can use to inform their decisions. So I really do think it’s ignorant.”