( The Catholic system has been so good over the years at picking ideal teachers for their system, particularly here in Ballarat! Stephen Elder goes into orbit again! If only Pell had hired nerds!)
"Nerds" don't necessarily make good teachers, Catholic Education Melbourne has warned in response to a state government plan to beef up teaching standards.
Victoria's second largest employer of teachers also said a new ATAR threshold of 70 for undergraduate teaching degrees could lead to teacher shortages and larger class sizes.
"Resilience, personality and a passion to pursue a career in education are more important qualities than a high ATAR score or university results," the organisation's executive director Stephen Elder said.
"Nerds don't necessarily make good teachers."
Before being accepted into courses, every aspiring teacher will have to pass a new non-academic test that will measure skills like problem solving, leadership and empathy.
The reforms have received a lukewarm response from the university sector, with peak group Universities Australia saying that universities were best placed to set their own admissions rules.
"This has the potential to exclude some applicants and may well end up reducing overall supply in the teaching workforce," deputy chief executive Catriona Jackson said.
Universities are scrambling to find out more details about the proposal to work out how the changes will impact enrolments and finances. The Australian Catholic University estimates that 73 per cent of people who enter teaching courses in Victoria via their ATAR do not have a raw rank of 70.
Deakin University said the focus on ATARs "missed the mark" and would not automatically result in higher quality teaching. Its Arts and Education Executive Dean Professor Brenda Cherednichenko said they would also discourage rural students from pursuing a career in teaching. This is because rural students are more likely to receive lower grades.
La Trobe University "cautiously welcomed" the changes, and said it had already lifted its ATAR entry to 60 for its 2017 student intake, and planned to increase it to 65 the following year.
"It is vital to recognise that ATAR is just one measure of potential in our students," associate professor in Education at La Trobe University Joanna Barbousas said. "Used alone, it is too simplistic."
The shake-up was welcomed by a range of stakeholders including the Australian Education Union, the Victorian Principals Association, Parents Victoria, the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, as well as the University of Melbourne and Monash University, which already requires a clearly-in ATAR of 85 for a teaching course.
Mr Merlino has said the changes would not lead to a teacher shortage and there was currently an oversupply of teachers.
There are growing concerns about slipping standards – the average ATAR of students starting teaching courses in Victoria was 57.35 this year, down from 63.4 in 2013. Some courses only required an ATAR of 30. Less than one quarter of teaching students enter universities via the ATAR system.