The Illawarra's education sector has welcomed NSW government plans to lift the standard and status of teaching.
Under far-reaching reforms unveiled by Premier Barry O'Farrell on Tuesday, teachers' pay will be linked to performance rather than length of employment and it will be easier to dump poor performers.
Teaching students will sit mandatory literacy and numeracy tests at university before being allowed into classrooms and only school leavers who score above 80 per cent in three subjects will make it into university education courses.
Other measures include mentoring entry-level teachers and continuing professional development.
At an annual Illawarra principals conference in Wollongong yesterday, Nareena Hills Public School principal Giselle Coltman said the reforms would give teachers consistency and reinforce what was already happening in most schools.
"For the first time the government has made a commitment on paper that says they value standards, they value quality teaching and they are going to raise these standards from the beginning of teacher training," Ms Coltman said.
"I think we'll have a lot of teachers who are able to say 'I am on track and I have already been meeting these standards'."
Mount St Thomas Public School principal Christine Schnebli praised the plan to attract high-quality students at the start of university, saying it would help to improve the career path for all teachers.
Education Department Director-General Dr Michele Bruniges was the keynote speaker at the principals conference and as one of three authors of the reforms said she was proud to be helping to "lift the status of the profession".
She said the plans took a "life-cycle approach" that would follow teachers from the start of their university degrees through to retirement.
Despite cuts of $1.7 billion to the state education budget last year, Dr Bruniges said she was not worried about how the government would fund the reforms.
NSW Teachers Federation Illawarra regional organiser Nicole Calnan welcomed the attempt to raise the status of the teaching profession but warned the government needed to be able to pay for its reforms.
"It's great they want to ensure that we can attract the best and brightest but we also need to know how they will keep these people in the teaching profession," she said. "We need to make sure teachers' salaries remain competitive so these people stay in the profession rather than go off and seek work in other industries where they are paid significantly more."