Chapter 7 - Teacher recruitment and training
Supply and Demand
Calculations by the Australian Council of Deans and others
suggest there will be a significant shortage of teachers by early next century,
although the extent of the shortage is a matter of dispute. This and related
issues are discussed in Chapter 8.
One of the major factors contributing to the projected
shortage is the decline in the number of young people joining the profession.
The Australian Council of Deans of Education, in its report on teaching supply
and demand, has estimated the gap between demand and supply as reaching 7,000
by the year 2003.
Declining Academic Qualifications of New Teachers
Equally disturbing is evidence of a general (but not
universal) decline in the academic quality of young people attracted into the
teaching profession, as measured by a lowering of the TER scores of teacher
education applicants. The Australian Council of Deans drew attention to this in
... the most academically able students generally have been
under-represented in undergraduate initial teacher education programs. This is
reflected in the low tertiary entrance scores of many teacher education
students. In 1989, more than half the commencing students in the Education field
of study were concentrated in the lowest quartile of tertiary entrance scores
of all school leaver commencing students.
An earlier study by the National Board of Employment,
Education and Training (NBEET) also reported concern about declining TER scores,
although it concluded that the decline was not uniform between States and not
evident in all education institutions.
There has been growing concern from many quarters that the
standards of entrants to teacher training courses throughout Australia, especially
as measured by tertiary entrance (TE) scores has been declining in recent
years, and that this represents a reduction in potential teacher quality.
Similar concerns were expressed by the majority of people
providing evidence to the Committee. The following excerpts from the evidence
indicate the nature of the problem.
Information from the Department of Education Services shows that
the minimum tertiary entrance scores for students undertaking Teacher Education
courses continues to decline. Tertiary entrance data obtained from the Tertiary
Institutions Service Centre (TISC) shows that since 1990 the cutoff scores for
entrance to Teacher Education courses have dropped by around twenty to twenty
five points across all teaching areas and at all universities.
There is evidence that students are being accepted into some
teacher education courses with unacceptably low entry scores (eg some regional
Queensland Universities accepted scores in 1996 of 19 on a scale of 1 to 25,
where twenty-five is the lowest score attainable.
Tertiary Entry Ranks (TER) into teacher education courses are
lower despite the fact that there are far fewer places than there used to be -
this has to be seen as a reflection of the falling status of teachers and how
much they might be expected to earn on completion of their studies.
Teachers considered that the low TER scores for entry to
teacher education reflected the low status in which the profession is held. In
turn, it reinforced the general perception of teaching as a low status
occupation lacking intellectual rigour. Most serious of all, failure to recruit
high calibre entrants threatened the quality of schooling in the longer term.
At present students who simply scrape by after gaining Year 12
by the merest margin are able to gain admission to teacher training courses.
That these people, academically inferior, are to be the teachers of tomorrow,
has horrendous implications for Australian education.
It seems to me that, if we are going to raise the status of
teachers, a central thing is that we should seek to draw those who are higher
level applicants into the process... That is the most important single thing we
can do to raise the quality of the work, which is one of the elements in the
status of the profession.
Through interaction with factors such as public perceptions
about intellectual demands of the course and of practice in the profession, and
perceived implications of selectivity or exclusiveness of entry, tertiary entry
levels have a self-reinforcing effect on status of the profession: there is a
'vicious cycle' linking low entrance scores with low status.
Some witnesses disputed the claim that TER scores were
declining. Others considered the focus on TER scores was misleading.
There is a persistent belief that teaching attracts low quality
applicants. This perception is faulty in two ways. Firstly, it is a conclusion
drawn from focussing on the lowest Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) score for entry
and ignores the range of students who enter teacher education including some
with very high TER scores. Secondly, in recent years, the lowest TER score for
entry to education courses has increased significantly and now compares
favourably with entry scores for Science, Computer Studies, Arts etc... The
persistent statements that education attracts low quality candidatesis a myth
and sets limits on the attractiveness of teaching for young people who may be
considering this as a career option.
On the tertiary entrance levels of our students, yes we do go a
long way down in terms of cut-off points for entrance, but we go no further
than arts or commerce and economics or social work or many others; but again,
the one that is spoken about is education. The important thing is not just what
the cut-off point is, but the fact that about one-third of our students are in
the top 10 per cent of students from high schools. It is that other side that
tends not to get talked about. This focus on the cut-off point is a major
Almost all of those who commented on this issue expressed
the view that sole reliance upon TER scores was an unsatisfactory predictor of
success as a teacher. This view is reinforced in the general literature with
NBEET, for example, commenting in 1991:
It has been suggested... that the stress on academic record, as
expressed in tertiary entrance scores, has served more as a public reassurance
regarding teacher quality than as an adequate predictor of teacher performance
and quality in the classroom.
While not disputing the importance of high academic
achievement witnesses considered it was not a sufficient precondition for
success. Personal qualities, motivation, organisational ability and
flexibility, while difficult to measure objectively, were critical to
successful teaching. Witnesses therefore suggested that entry to teacher
training should, at a minimum, be based on TER scores plus in depth
interviews designed to ascertain the applicant's suitability.
Academic tertiary entrance scores should not be the sole, or
even major, criterion for selection into pre-service teacher education
programs; rather, entry should be based on a range of criteria and procedures
(eg portfolios, interviews, references, as well as tertiary entrance scores)
focusing on attributes required in the practice of the profession.
It is, however, simplistic to assume that TE scores are a
good predictor of success at university, let alone of success in a
student's chosen profession. Research conducted at the University of Tasmania
indicates, for example, that interview ratings by academic staff are accurate
predictors of future practice-teaching performance, whereas TE scores are not
at all predictive. 
A significant proportion of people beginning teacher
training do not embark on their teaching careers directly from school. Some
enter after completing subject degrees and some come from other jobs. In
Tasmania, for example, 40% of students beginning teacher training have a
subject degree and 25% are mature aged entrants.
In Queensland at least 30% of teaching graduates are mature age.
In these cases TER scores are largely irrelevant. Yet there is no suggestion
that these people are less successful than young people entering teacher
training straight from school. Indeed, the reverse tends to be the case. This
is a strong argument for focusing on the recruitment of mature age people to
teaching, to complement rather than to replace people recruited straight from
Research for MACQT [Ministerial Advisory Council on the Quality
of Teaching] on teacher educators and teacher education has indicated that in
the debate over declining entry standards into teacher education, it is often
forgotten that prospective entrants come from a variety of backgrounds, apart
from school leavers.
The vast majority entering initial teacher education in the
secondary area are already graduates, and in some universities are taking out
their initial teaching qualification at Masters level. Universities also enrol
other professionals into teacher education courses through recognition of prior
learning (RPL) provisions.
There is much anecdotal evidence that mature - age students who
have not entered using a TER do particularly well in their courses and
Reasons for Decline in Number and Quality of New Entrants
The reasons for the decline in the number and academic
quality of young people entering the teaching profession are many and varied.
They relate to the factors undermining the status of the teaching profession
and the morale of teachers. Most have been discussed elsewhere in the Report
and will not be repeated here. However, a number of very specific factors also
influence young people's decisions to opt for alternative careers. These are:
- a greater range of career options, especially for women
- fears of litigation, especially for men in connection with
allegations of paedophilia
- the impact of university fees and charges
- uncertain job prospects.
More career options for women
In the past, when women's career options were relatively
restricted, many talented women entered the teaching profession. Now that they
have a much wider career choice some of our most able female school leavers are
opting for other professions. While this is encouraging for women, it has
damaging implications for recruitment into teaching.
Women used to use teaching and nursing as the means to
professional life and, if you looked generally at those families in which the
first generation was entering higher education, the profession they often
entered was teaching. With much more access to higher education, other options are
Young women, at last freed from some of the deeply entrenched
sexism of previous generations about women's roles and careers, are today able
to choose to enrol in a much wider range of university courses. As a
consequence the proportion of the most talented young women choosing teaching
as their career has been reduced.
Men's fear of litigation
While a broad range of factors has contributed to young
people's decisions to opt for careers outside teaching, the fear of litigation,
especially in relation to paedophilia and child molestation, does appear to be
a factor in deterring young men from entering the profession, especially at the
It is difficult to disentangle fear of litigation from more
general attitudinal issues such as the community perception that primary school
teaching is 'women's work', and impossible to obtain objective data on their
impact on career decisions. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that it
does influence such decisions.
The impact of university fees and charges
Recent changes to HECS funding are expected to have adverse
consequences on teacher recruitment. Students may decide that the additional
costs incurred in qualifying may not be adequately compensated by the salaries
offered. The introduction of differential HECS fees for university courses will
deter some university entrants from undertaking more expensive courses.
Enrolments in science courses are expected to fall, for example, and there will
be flow on effects into teaching, with fewer science graduates entering the
profession. This is a real concern, because mathematics and science teachers
are already in short supply. This was a concern raised in a number of
Present indications are that an acute shortage of teachers may
develop by 2000. There is already a shortage of teachers in certain areas e.g.
Science and Technics. The current HECS policy does not encourage young people
to train in these areas.
Currently a student contemplating a career in science is faced
with a higher HECS fee compared to a career based on the arts or humanities.
Furthermore, if a science and a humanities graduate both decided to enrol in
the same teacher education program, although additional HECS fees would be
required they would be of the same magnitude. However, since there is no salary
differential based on subjects/methods taught the science teacher who is payed
the same as the humanities teacher is required to pay a higher premium for this
In addition, the move to full fees for some post graduate
courses is likely to have a serious impact on the number of qualified teachers
upgrading their qualifications. This issue will be discussed later in this
Chapter, in relation to teachers' professional development.
Uncertain job prospects
While overall demand for teachers is projected to exceed
supply within the next five years the situation is not uniform across States,
regions and subject areas. In some jurisdictions and systems there is an
oversupply of teachers. In Victoria, which has witnessed large scale school
closures and amalgamations, approximately 8,000 teachers lost their jobs
between 1992 and 1997.
So newly qualified teachers have no guarantee of work. Their prospects of permanent
appointment are slim. In the Northern Territory, for example, only 20 per
cent of commencing staff in 1995 were permanent appointees.
In Victoria all new staff are now employed on fixed term contracts. This
uncertainty is a powerful disincentive to young people's entry to the
Expanding Teacher Recruitment
Any general measures directed to making teaching a more
attractive career prospect will improve the status of the teaching profession
and the morale of teachers. Such measures will have a direct impact, for
example by improving salary and career structures, and an indirect impact, for
example by encouraging existing teachers to paint a more positive picture of a
teaching career to prospective candidates, rather than dissuading their
brightest students from considering it, as is now often the case (See Chapter
4). Such general measures should also assist in reducing the number of teachers
leaving the profession. Current separation rates reflect low morale within the
In addition to the general measures proposed elsewhere in
this Report, specific initiatives are needed to focus on the recruitment of
teachers. A number of suggestions - some based on existing models, - was
presented to the Committee in evidence.
Queensland conducted a very successful teacher recruitment
campaign in late 1996. Called 'Out in Front', it was directed at Year 12 school
leavers and used a range of approaches, including television advertisements, to
attract potential teachers. Videos were made available to schools in which
teachers were shown undertaking a variety of tasks in widely different
In 1997 there was a significant increase in applications for
teacher education in Queensland (against the national trend) and TER scores
increased. The campaign was therefore extended, in the hope that it would have
a similar impact on enrolments in 1998.
A more limited campaign in Western Australia, also in late
1996 and conducted by the Deans of Education in conjunction with the Department
of Education Services, appears to have been less successful. That campaign
focussed on advertisements in the 'West Australian' newspaper. While
recruitment was maintained in Western Australia in 1997 there were significant
shortfalls in intakes into pre-service secondary education courses in mathematics
and science and TER scores fell marginally for most education courses at Curtin
University of Technology, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University.
The Committee's attention was drawn to the success of a
recent British recruitment campaign based on the theme "Nobody Forgets a
Good Teacher." This may warrant further consideration for adaptation in
the Australian context.
A number of witnesses pointed to the need for a national
recruitment campaign. The feasibility of such a campaign is currently being
investigated by the Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and
The Committee RECOMMENDS a national recruitment campaign
designed to attract high quality applicants to the teaching profession, with
costs shared between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.
Witnesses also drew attention to variations in predicted
teacher shortages - between States, between primary and secondary schools, in
particular subject areas and in rural and remote schools. (See Chapter 8).
A number of scholarships are offered by various State
governments to encourage people into the teaching profession (usually, but not
exclusively at Year 12 level). Examples brought to the Committee's attention
- Western Australia - from 1998 will offer 30 scholarships to high
achieving entrants into teacher training, with 10 of these reserved for
- Queensland - has offered scholarships since 1996 in areas of
- Tasmania - offered HECS scholarships and guaranteed employment
for mathematics and science teacher education entrants in 1997.
The Committee commends the States on these initiatives.
While acknowledging their benefits the Committee notes that, because of the
relatively small numbers of scholarships offered, they will not make a major
contribution to overcoming projected teacher shortages.
The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government
introduce scholarships for university graduates to undertake post graduate
professional qualifications in teaching.
Changes to HECS fees
The Committee RECOMMENDS abolition of differential HECS
fees. This will remove the particular disincentives now faced by science
graduates planning a career in teaching.
Raising TER scores
Given the concerns in the general community and among
teachers themselves about declining TER scores for prospective teachers the
Committee acknowledges (despite the caveats mentioned earlier) that raising TER
scores would, by sending the message that teaching is a valued career option, assist
in enhancing the status of teachers. Acknowledgment of the value of teaching
could, in turn, be expected to attract more high achieving students into the
profession and thus raise TER scores.
TER scores are a matter for individual institutions. The Committee
notes evidence it received that institutions which have raised TER scores have,
at the same time, increased demand for the relevant courses. This was the case
at the University of New South Wales' graduate level, two-year Master of
Teaching program, introduced in 1996 to replace the one year Diploma in
Education (and since closed by the University, along with the entire Department
of Education). It is also the case for science courses at the universities of
New South Wales and Sydney.
Raising the entry point to science-based courses at the
Universities of New South Wales and Sydney has raised demand for such courses.
Raising entry standards for teaching is the single biggest factor, which in the
short and long term, will improve the quality of Australian teachers.
Initial teacher training
The Current Position
Teacher training takes a variety of forms in Australia. The
most common are either a four year teacher training course at university,
leading to a Bachelor of Education degree (previously often three years, but
now being replaced by four year courses) or a three year arts or science degree
followed by a one year Diploma in Education. Some universities are now
considering replacing the one year post graduate Diploma course with a two year
Bachelor of Education course. In addition, universities accept into their
teaching courses applicants from other professions, through recognition of
prior learning and credit transfer.
Most evidence to the Committee favoured graduate entry to
teacher training, with training following completion of an arts or science
degree. For secondary school teachers in particular, this was considered
essential in equipping teachers for their subject specialisations.
The presence of people with education degrees without majors in
the subject area they are going to teach quite often means that some people are
just barely able to manage senior classes. There is a bit of that. Those are
part of the things that lower the status of teachers.
The universities have been encouraging the four-year B. Ed,
which means a decision to enter teaching while you are still at school... We
would argue... that the introduction of the B.Ed. as an alternative to a first
degree plus education training, has led to secondary teachers particularly being
embarrassed by the amount of subject content they have in their discipline
areas, which is not turning out to be adequate for the task they are called on
to perform back in the classroom.
Conflicting views were presented to the Committee on the
costs and benefits of moving to a two year post graduate qualification for
teachers holding a first degree. Supporters of a two year qualification pointed
to the increasing demands upon teachers and the need for them to be better
At least a two year professional preparation is required to
accommodate the diversity of skills now demanded of teachers. This can be
achieved through a variety of models, including double undergraduate degrees
and a graduate pre-service preparation of two years.
Opponents recognised the benefits accruing from an
additional year of training but considered it was unrealistic to expect
teachers to undergo five years of training and incur substantial HECS debts for
the very modest salaries they would earn upon completion of their training.
If you are going to ask these young people to undergo an
additional year of training at very high cost, then you are going to have to
increase substantially their level of remuneration, particularly in their first
year, and from that point onwards.
We have not given serious consideration to five-year courses. We
may have a reservation about that, in the sense that there are certainly costs
now associated with HECS fees and so on, in having an extra year of study,
which may be a disincentive for people to study for teaching if it is longer
and more costly to come into that profession.
At the moment, over 50 per cent of our students have honours
degrees. That is four years, sometimes five. They come for a Dip. Ed. and that
is six years. If you add another year, that is nearly seven years. The economic
rewards and any other rewards - the intrinsic rewards - are not going to be
there and you will, I think, drive some of these very able people away from
secondary school teaching. So, while for some groups of students two years of
education in a university might be appropriate, I would argue strongly that one
more year after an honours degree is enough for the students, then it is about
time they went out and did some serious teaching and did not keep coming back
to the university.
Some intending teachers obviously are prepared to make this
financial sacrifice. The two year, post graduate Bachelor of Teaching program
which was introduced at the University of Tasmania in 1997, for example, was
oversubscribed. A post graduate, two year Master of Teaching program introduced
at the University of Sydney in 1996 has also attracted a large number of highly
qualified applicants, as does the University of Melbourne's two year Bachelor
of Teaching degree.
A wide range of views was presented to the Committee on the
quality and appropriateness of teacher training now available in Australia and
these will be considered in the following section. Some weaknesses of existing
programs will be discussed at the start, followed by positive views, including
examples of good practice and suggestions for improvement.
The Quality and Appropriateness of Teacher Training - Weaknesses
Many comments on teacher training referred to its poor
quality, inappropriateness and inadequacy in preparing teachers for the
... I believe there are fundamental problems with teacher
training and state education departments, it is hard to escape the feeling that
these organisations need purging. Teachers can be much better prepared for
their jobs than they are. They are being let down by their departments and
teacher training courses. If teacher training was more appropriate, teachers
would be better equipped and therefore less stressed.
Similar views are evident in the general literature. A recent
survey of New South Wales primary and secondary teachers by Dinham and Scott,
for example, found that only 38% of respondents thought their teacher training
'adequately prepared' them for teaching. Many considered teacher training
courses too theoretical and lecturers 'out of touch' with the demands of modern
Few teacher education programs concentrate on the daily,
practical expectations of teaching. A theoretical background is essential to
providing a base. However, it is not sufficient to enable an inexperienced
teacher to develop the essential skills that "make" a capable
... I think that, to a certain degree, you are not prepared for
what lies ahead in the first year when you come into the teaching profession.
University is very theoretical and not as practical as it could be. It focuses
on all of the theories and when you get out there, it is practical. You are not
equipped with the skills that you need.
The most trenchant criticism of teacher training related to
its practical component. Witnesses considered practicums were not given
sufficient priority or time by universities. They were often (but not always)
concentrated towards the end of a teacher training course. For four year
education students this sometimes meant they received no practical experience
until their third year. For post graduate diploma students it meant waiting
until their third term.
The rationale for this was that teachers would then be
better prepared. The effect however was that some students, confronted for the
first time with the reality of classroom teaching, decided it was not for them
and left the course. Had they been exposed to classroom teaching earlier they
would have saved both themselves and universities significant time and effort.
The training of those who remained could also have been enhanced by reference
to greater practical experience.
... the practicum is an important part of a teacher's course and
student teachers think it is very important. It is important along with lots of
other things. One of the things that makes it important is that it offers a
period of time for sustained supervised practice. Small amounts of time do not
[At the University of Western Sydney]... the only major time
spent by the four-year trained students in schools is a 10-week practice period
that they are spending now in their third year of those four years. In the
remaining three years, they are spending small numbers of isolated days and
some where they observe, et cetera. Most of us would agree that what is needed
is far more practically oriented experience in schools.
These concerns are not new. They have been articulated in a
number of reports on teacher education over the last ten years.
Witnesses from university education faculties shared these
concerns. They acknowledged that the proportion of teacher training time spent
in practicums had declined. (A minimum requirement of 80 days is suggested in
the National Standards and Guidelines for Initial Teacher Education just
released by the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth
Affairs.) The decline is a result of cost constraints within universities
rather than a deliberate policy choice.
University education faculties pay school teachers for
supervising trainee teachers during their practicums. Payment is made by
universities out of their general operating funds. Although the actual costs
per student are modest ($21 per day per student for James Cook University and
$12.45 (secondary) and $21.20 (primary) per day for students at Murdoch
University, for example,) the cost to education departments is significant, at
a time of declining resources. The Council of Deans of Education estimated
that payment to supervising teachers absorbed an average of 25% of the budgets
of education faculties.
For a number of years now it has been the practice for schools
to require payment for supervision of practice teaching students. This has led
the teaching institutions themselves to cut back on practice teaching hours
because the bill has now become a very significant part of their expenditure.
As a result students no longer receive sufficient pre-service teaching
experience and the teaching profession is suffering as a result.
Even where teachers are paid, it is becoming increasingly
difficult to enlist them as supervisors, because of the existing demands upon
One of the points that you may want to pick up on is the
experience we have in trying to ask teachers to be supervisors for our students
when they go on prac. We are having more and more difficulty with that. As
teachers are finding a lot more paperwork and are working under a lot more
pressure, we are finding it a lot more difficult to get people to take on that
I do not think the money is big enough for anybody to take the
job on, given the time that it really takes to make [the] money. You do not
make money doing it.
A further difficulty was brought to the Committee's
attention in Queensland where recent changes to recruitment practices have
placed supervising teachers in an invidious position with respect to the
employment of new teachers.
... because the system has changed the teacher who supervises
the student now virtually has the say as to whether that person is employed or
not. A lot of teachers will not take on that responsibility and give that
final mark and final estimate of that student.
A number of witnesses referred to the poor quality of
teacher supervision of practicums and of beginning teachers. The following
comments, from first year teachers in South Australia, are typical.
... in terms of practicum supervisors, the teachers that
supervise you, who are supposedly modelling teaching for you, I have often
questioned the criteria for those teachers to become supervising teachers, when
I sit with my practicum supervisor who says to me, 'I hate kids. I hate
teaching. Why do you want to be a teacher?' What I am thinking is: how did you
get to be my supervisor for the next four weeks?
If you are not lucky enough to have a teacher that is going to
put their marking to one side and give you half an hour of their time in a rich
environment, you really are on your own or you are grabbing these little bites
where you can. That is often overlooked about how teachers interrelate.
Given teachers' reluctance to take on a supervisory role the
universities do not have the luxury of choosing the most dedicated and
enthusiastic teachers as supervisors. Where they are not, the quality of
teaching practice suffers.
With no incentive and a huge amount of extra work for the jobs
to be done properly, universities grab any teacher who can be coerced to put
their name to a list. With this methodology, aspiring practitioners are often
turned off by bad example before ever really experiencing the joys of
Some witnesses considered practicums did not adequately
prepare teachers for the 'real' world because they took place in carefully
selected schools or classes where behaviour and attitudes were atypical of the
broad spectrum they could expect to encounter once appointed.
Often, trainee teachers are given manageable classes so that new
problems are not created with difficult classes. Often, their first real
experience of dealing with behaviour problems is in their first year of
teaching. This creates the need for a very strong support network.
Other specific criticisms of teacher training related to its
lack of intellectual rigour and its narrowly focussed content. The former
criticism was levelled particularly at four year Bachelor of Education courses.
Particularly at the secondary level, we believe that greater
depth in the academic and curricula studies is required. We have some
scepticism about the current B. Ed. courses. They are great if you like
smorgasbord, if you are looking for something that is more substantial, quite
often they fail to deliver.
From my own experience, I have had science graduates of B.Ed.
courses who have had to re-enrol at university to do further units in chemistry
or physics or biology in order to teach science at the senior level. That
reflects on the superficiality of the studies that teachers and others have
engaged in at the B. Ed. level.
Particular omissions and inadequacies in content referred to
by a number of witnesses included knowledge and skill in technology (described
as a 'yawning gulf' by one witness),
behaviour management, relationships with parents and the broader community and
the teaching of literacy.
We believe that inadequate attention is given to the whole
question of behaviour management within the pre-service education courses. It
certainly is an area that new teachers, whether they be young or mature age,
have quite a lot of difficulty with and need a lot of support with when they
get into schools.
Teacher Education programs consistently lack units on parent participation.
ACSSO regards this as a serious omission because we believe that partnerships
between parents, students and teachers are vital to the learning of students.
... there are a lot of very fine young people coming into
teaching. Many of them are very well prepared. But the area of literacy, as we
have said, is one in particular that we are very concerned about. Generally,
from wherever they come, teachers are ill prepared in that area.
A number of witnesses commented on the failure of
pre-service education courses adequately to prepare teachers for life in rural
schools. Given that a large number of beginning teachers are sent to rural
areas, this is a serious omission.
It seems to me that we probably do not do very much in our
courses to prepare people specifically for teaching in smaller country schools.
We do have teaching pracs located in country areas, but there is nothing
formalised at the university.
The failure to familiarise students with the particular
issues facing Aboriginal students was also mentioned by some witnesses.
...our school has problems in the fact that there is a high
percentage of Aboriginal students. That is something I was not taught at
university. I was not taught anything to do with teaching Aboriginal students,
which I think is a must because their learning lifestyles and learning
methodologies are totally different to ours and we cannot try to change them
because they are not going to change.
Every training institution should have compulsory indigenous
studies. We have some teachers going out to communities first year out who have
never seen a black face and they have to teach our kids. It is hard for them.
It is hard for our kids. They do not get any of that training when they are in
One response to current perceived inadequacies in initial
teacher education - and especially to its lack of attention to practical
teaching and overemphasis on theoretical concepts (in the view of some) was to
suggest that teacher education be moved out of universities altogether and
conducted in schools in the form of an apprenticeship. This is a long standing
debate. The renewed focus on school based training mirrors recent developments
elsewhere. In Britain, for example, pre-service training of teachers has become
more school-based in recent years, although there is no consensus on the
advantages and disadvantages of this new focus and much opposition from higher
One important aspect of identifying good teachers would seem to
be getting them in front of a class early in their training in a form of
apprenticeship. This would require existing teachers to be given time to train
new teachers on the job and not in a tertiary institute well removed from real
classroom practice. The existing dedicated and aging teachers are best equipped
to implement this training, but they must be allowed to do so based on their
experience and expertise. These teachers do not want, or need, yet another
round of professional development training courses teaching them how academics
think teaching should occur.
Others argued that moving teacher education out of
universities and into schools would diminish the quality and status of the
training and, as a consequence, of the profession more generally.
To consider locating teacher education in anything other than a
university or to provide a narrow form of school-based training or
apprenticeship would lead to a lowering of status and, consequently, of demand
and entry level.
... It is over-simplistic and short-sighted to see teacher preparation
as the provision of a set of skills without a theoretical base. Location of
teacher education in universities is a way of ensuring that the theoretical
base is provided and the research context is maintained.
The AMSC is concerned at the possible shift of significant parts
of pre-service teacher education to schools. This will institutionalise
existing practice. There is some evidence from England that this can also
decrease demand for teacher education courses.
... Accordingly, the AMSC supports teacher education being
firmly based in universities for both discipline and educational components.
Any move to increase the school-based component of educational studies must be
accompanied by an appropriate allocation of resources and not at the expense of
This latter view tends to predominate in the general
literature. Hargreaves is particularly critical of moves to base teacher
training in schools.
The effect of this [move to school based teacher preparation] is
not to enrich collaboration and collegiality but to return teaching to an
amateur, deprofessionalised, almost pre-modern craft, where existing skills and
knowledge are passed on practically from expert to novice, but where practice
can at best only be reproduced, rather than improved.
The Committee agrees with this view. It acknowledges the
importance of ensuring that practical teaching skills are firmly embedded in a
sound theoretical and research base.
One means of overcoming the current divide between practice
and theory would be through adoption of different models of integration between
the two. These could include internships for student teachers nearing the end
of their training, during which they work almost full time in schools with
gradually declining levels of supervision, and a model which combines two days
a week at university with three days a week at a school (or variations of these
arrangements) over a lengthy period. The latter approach would link theory and
practice. It would provide teaching experience as well as the opportunity to
inquire and reflect upon it.
Variations of these models are being conducted in many
education departments and should help to overcome criticisms of previous
approaches to initial teacher education.
Some witnesses were also critical of universities which,
they claimed, accorded education departments low status within their
institutions. As a result, education faculties were the first to be cut back
and the last to receive additional resources.
The recent decision of the University of New South Wales to no
longer offer Teacher Education courses is yet another significant factor in the
decline in the status of teachers in our society. One of the Australian premier
universities has decided that Education is not of sufficient academic standing
to suit the profile of their offerings.
A number of witnesses drew attention to the low priority
placed by universities on teaching quality, as opposed to research output. This
had an impact on the quality of university teaching generally and on the
quality of teaching in some education faculties. Teachers in some education
faculties, it was claimed, had little contact with schools and no real
understanding of what happened there. Thus they were singularly ill equipped to
prepare students for life in the classroom. The following excerpts provide an
indication of the views expressed.
At the moment, many lecturers have been out of classrooms for
decades. There needs to be a requirement for all lecturers to work in a school
doing normal teaching duties after an absence of five years.
Some external commentators have expressed similar concerns.
The Schools Council, for example, noted in 1990:
While it is possible for academic staff to keep 'up to date'
with the realities and requirements of school life, the Council remains to be
convinced that this has occurred.
The Committee is concerned that where universities do not
place sufficient emphasis on teaching within their own institutions, this too
has the effect of devaluing teaching skills, with obvious implications for the
status of teachers in schools. While some universities are taking steps to
promote teaching others have made few efforts in this direction. However, a
number of encouraging developments were brought to the Committee's attention
and these are discussed in the next section.
University education staff, like school teachers, are an
ageing profession. This is one explanation for their perceived remoteness from
current classroom practices and conditions. In 1995 more than two thirds of
academics in education faculties were over 45 and more than 42% were over 50.
Proportions in each of these categories will have increased in the intervening
period. The age profile of university educators has implications also for the
recruitment and training of the large number of new teachers who will be
required to meet projected teacher shortages within the next few years.
In the view of some witnesses there were inadequate links
between universities and schools, with the result that teacher training courses
provided by universities did not fully meet the needs of schools.
Much more consultation needs to take place between the training
institution and the educational setting where the practical experiences take
place in order for both stakeholders to be satisfied that the requirements of
all parties are being met.
Teacher pre-service education does not serve schools well. The
universities place insufficient emphasis on practicum components. The
universities also place insufficient emphasis on content studies and
fundamental pedagogics. Pre-service education has become too independent of
Education is a divided profession. In schools teachers just
teach, and university academics just research. And when there are inquiries in
education, it's usually the academics whose voices are most heard. Certainly
teachers voices are not much heard in teacher training courses.
The Quality and Appropriateness of Teacher Training - the
Positive View, Including Some Examples of Good Practice
It would be misleading to suggest that the Committee
received only negative views on the quality of teacher education. It also
received positive feedback and was provided with many examples of good
The following comments are typical of the positive views
expressed about the quality and appropriateness of some existing pre-service
... I have been in teacher education for over 30 years... I
think inquiries like this tend to concentrate on the difficulties and the
problems and do not actually highlight some of the positive features. I think
there is a tendency for outsiders to look at the evidence and say, "Gosh,
these people have got real problems', and so on, whereas we would say we have
actually been conscientiously trying to improve what we do all over that
period. We have got better. The students coming in are better. The quality of
our graduates is better. The problems are going to be there because it is all
part of being a teacher.
There has been a greater concerted approach by teacher educators
around Australia to look at things, particularly the role of the practicum in
teacher education. I would say that, as a consequence of improving the courses
- which, from my view, were very theoretical in past years - the improved
quality of the content and experiences that the trainees have now is part of
the reason we are getting competent teachers in our schools.
The Committee also heard of examples of good practice
focussed on the needs of student teachers in rural areas.
The Isolated Children's Parents Association in our south-west
region, based in Roma, has been working to provide homestay, for example, for
young teachers in training so they can get experience of living in a small
community in the west.
Some university education department staff were at pains to
inform the Committee that at their institutions, at least, education
departments were not held in the low esteem which some evidence had suggested
was the norm. Furthermore, they disputed the claim that universities valued
research more highly than teaching.
Universities vary in these issues; but, in my institution we do
not, as was noted earlier, value research above teaching. There are lots of
positive ways in which one can use one's evaluation on teaching. In fact,
teaching is one of the key areas looked at for promotion. You simply cannot get
promotion or pass probationary reviews without having your teaching scrutinised
I work at the University of Western Australia, not as an
academic. We have made enormous changes in the last five to seven years to
criteria for promotions, so that teaching is enormously important in getting
Nor did they agree that the quality of teaching within
education departments was as unsatisfactory as some witnesses had indicated.
... people in faculties of education by and large are
ex-teachers, and people in other faculties are not, so we would hope that the
people working in our faculties were high standard teachers to begin with.
... our teacher eductors coming into schools to supervise or assess
the work of student teachers...are required under our act to be registered
teachers and they cannot get registration unless they are appropriately
qualified...We felt that was a very important provision to make. It was saying
that we are all part of the profession and teachers in schools were able to
relate more easily. They realised that these people were not only researchers;
they had actually completed a teacher education course and knew what it was all
Some university witnesses disputed the claim that
pre-service teacher training courses lack intellectual rigour. They believed
the standard had generally risen.
We are a university formed out of existing CAEs exclusively. The
university procedures have ensured a significant increase in the rigour of our
programs.... We get very positive reports [from schools]. They are telling us
that they have never had teachers as well prepared and they are really excited
about what they are getting. So I suspect you are going to get variations
A number of university witnesses who acknowledged the
declining TER scores of their students nevertheless considered that the quality
of their graduates was better than ever before - which they saw as a reflection
of the high standard of the teacher training courses they offered.
As noted, university witnesses acknowledged the validity of
complaints about some teacher practicums - which they attributed to lack of
adequate resources. They also drew to the Committee's attention many examples
of good practice. The following excerpts are examples from a wide range
discussed in submissions and at public hearings.
One of the things we have tried to do here, because we are thin
on the ground and we have big areas to cover, is really to try to adequately
train teachers to be basically the main professional provider of supervision in
the school.... this university does conduct supervising teacher workshops,
which are really well attended generally. People have found those to be very
useful. So I think we are well supported. Our students get at least two visits
on every prac as well.
We have had a trial going at the moment where a particular
cohort of year 2 trainees went to the same school for a whole day every week
for the whole year. So, they became very much a part of that staff, even though
they were only there one day a week, but the staff took an interest in them and
there was a liaison between the staff and the university lecturer who was
responsible for that. We are looking at extending that. That is one initiative
to give people more school understanding. Another purpose is that some of these
students at the end of the year came to the decision that teaching was not for
One of the major concerns raised by critics of current
teacher training arrangements was the lack of communication between university
education departments and schools in the development and implementation of
teacher training programs. As a consequence, it was suggested, such programs
often failed to address the concerns of schools or to meet their needs. Many
education departments have recognised the importance of close links with
schools and are putting in place measures to strengthen existing links and to
build new ones.
... it has become increasingly clear that pre-service teacher
education is best founded on strong working relationships between university
and school based teacher educators. Establishing such partnerships is costly of
time and resourcing, and is sometimes marked by tensions. Schools and
universities have historically different cultures, and addressing differences
in the interest of excellent graduates is a delicate task. It is essential that
the differences between institutions are honestly articulated, so that mutually
beneficial relationships can be established and maintained, resulting in
universities and schools playing complementary roles in pre-service teacher
education and in education reform. Effective communication between partners is
Closer links between tertiary providers and practitioners in the
schools need to be further developed, and undergraduates need to spend more
time in schools. There are some good initiatives. We are exploring some at the
moment with the Australian Catholic University. They are wanting their
undergraduates to spend a day a week in our schools and to have that kind of
support and mentoring, on a voluntary basis, that I talked about before.
Again, many innovative approaches to improving links between
universities and schools were threatened by budget cuts and staff reductions
within the universities. Since the most successful projects were often those
requiring commitment of significant university staff time, they were
particularly vulnerable. At the University of Tasmania, for example, the
education department seconded highly motivated teachers to undertake masters
degrees in the faculty. They upgraded their qualifications and at the same time
kept university staff well informed about what was happening in schools. A
major inhibitor to expansion of the scheme was the university's inability to
pay teachers' salaries for the period of their secondment.
A similar problem exists in some Victorian universities.
... we tend to recruit teachers mid-career, with experience; and
because the route towards higher qualification tends to be through a mid-career
teacher undertaking higher degrees, we are attempting to recruit people who
have higher salary levels in schools than we can offer for the comparable
qualifications in faculties of education. This is a serious recruiting problem
At Macquarie University teacher education is based on a
partnership between the student, the curriculum lecturer and the supervising
teacher. The coordination of these arrangements (for 60 or 70 students), once
the responsibility of six full time lecturers, is now being undertaken by part
time lecturers. In these circumstances, it is becoming difficult to sustain.
In South Australia a successful internship program run by
Flinders University was abandoned in 1997 through lack of funding.
We also had a program of internship in our school where we took
final year students in the bachelor of education courses and actually had them
as interns in our schools for six months. They were given credit for that in
their courses and we had some commercial support from Apple Computers. Those
four young people turned out to be very good teachers. They were all employed
during the next year but unfortunately, the program could not go forward - not
from our point of view - this year because of lack of funding, lack of supervision
One of the most successful examples of close, supportive
links between university education departments and schools was the Innovative
Links Project, established as part of the National Schools Network with
Commonwealth funding through the National Professional Development Program in
1994. This resulted in the establishment of approximately 20 'round tables' all
over the country which brought school and university staff together in a
supportive partnership and resulted in joint research projects with a schools
The Committee heard many positive comments (and no negative
ones) about the Innovative Links Project from schools and universities alike.
The following excerpts are typical.
The experience of the round tables has been one of an almost
incredible improvement in self-esteem of the teachers that have been involved
in them, because they have been able to be accepted as peers around the table
with university colleagues. For a long time there has been a little bit of a
step-ladder there, where we see the university almost guarding all of this
abstract knowledge about how to train teachers. When the university colleagues
worked with the teacher colleagues, what you had was equal partnerships. You
had both sides having a very honest say about what could happen.
It is the partnership developed with VUT through the innovative
links project which has allowed the teachers at the Grange Secondary College
the avenue to reflect upon their teaching practice through case writing. This partnership
with VUT has helped teachers at the college recognise how valuable their hard
work is.... this partnership has been incredibly beneficial to the support and
the further development of the school.
Because we are in a university and I am a teacher educator, I do
need to point out to you how important the [Innovative Links} project and
similar projects - like the National Schools Network and others that colleagues
here this afternoon will be talking about - have been in changing the teacher
education program at this university.
The impact on our teachers and our school of being part of the
innovative links and also the National Schools Network has just made, over the
last four years, the biggest difference we have ever seen in our school,
because we have had support from other people, we have been linked to other
people who could help us through the universities, through the systems even.
Other very successful collaborative exercises between
practising teachers and university education departments have included:
- the National Project on the Quality of Teaching and Learning
(NPQTL), the primary role of which was to develop competency based standards
- publication of the National Competency Framework for Beginning
Teachers, which provides a framework for collaboration in initial teacher
- the development (by the Australian Council of Deans of Education,
the Australian Teaching Council and others) of the National Standards and
Guidelines for Initial Teacher Education, the aim of which is to support
high standards of teacher education, especially initial teacher education, and
to foster partnerships between all those involved in it
- the establishment in 1995 of the Chalk Circle Dialogue to make
recommendations on the future of initial teacher education.
The Committee was concerned to learn of the many innovative
programs which have closed, or are threatened with closure, as a result of
funding cuts. This is particularly the case for initiatives funded through the
National Schools Network.
The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government
re-instate funding for the National Schools Network.
The Way Forward
The balance of the evidence provided to the Committee
suggests that the quality of pre-service teacher training is very variable. In
some cases teachers and students are obviously dissatisfied with the training
provided. The Committee also received advice, as noted, about many innovative,
high quality, teacher training programs established and run by dedicated and
enthusiastic staff. Despite the difficulty of obtaining a comprehensive
overview of all the high quality programs available, many of which are not
widely publicised, the Committee is convinced that there is widespread support
in university education departments for adopting and extending existing
examples of good practice.
External reports confirm the variability in quality of
initial teacher education. The views of teachers providing input to the
Australian Teaching Council publication What do teachers think?,
for example, ranged from 'irrelevant', 'out of touch' and 'not practical
enough' to highly positive.
The Committee believes that education departments themselves
are aware of deficiencies in some of their programs and are committed to
rectifying them, but they are hampered in their efforts by a decrease in
resources, the extent of which was brought to the Committee's attention by a
number of university witnesses.
The relative funding model has been a disaster for teacher
educators for a number of reasons which I will not go into now, but we have
been seriously under-funded. Some of the statistics are, for instance, that in
seven years our staff-student ratios have gone from 10.84 at Murdoch University
to just under 20:1. Our teaching contact loads have gone from a maximum of 260
per year to a minimum of 370 per year.
Given that in the School of Education we are carrying the same
teacher-student loads as the teachers are, I can tell you that it is very bad
for morale, it is exhausting and it is very difficult to keep doing a high
If we are serious about enhancing the status of teachers we
must ensure that new teachers are adequately prepared for the complex and
demanding task ahead of them. High quality, appropriate pre-service training is
essential. This is generally acknowledged, but to date nobody has been prepared
to commit the necessary resources. Several witnesses claimed that the
Commonwealth's relative funding model for higher education has had a
disproportionately adverse effect on education departments within universities
because of its failure to recognise the additional costs of educating teachers
as opposed to, for example, arts graduates. Universities themselves have not
been willing to make up the shortfall. Without increased funding it is unlikely
that the quality of teacher training will improve. Indeed, it is likely to
deteriorate. A number of university witnesses indicated that they were having
difficulty in maintaining existing standards in the face of reduced resources.
Given the variable quality in existing teacher training
programs the Committee considers it essential that a national body of the type
recommended (in Chapter 2) should have responsibility, in collaboration with
universities, for accreditation of teacher training courses.
The Committee envisages the accreditation body, in
collaboration with the universities, as setting standards for initial entry
into teacher training as well as for the courses offered. Such a development
would prevent universities from lowering entry standards to unacceptable levels
simply to retain their per capita funding. Thus the public could be assured of
the quality of trainee teachers, with a consequent enhancement in teacher
status. However, if such entry standards were enforced without concomitant
moves to improve the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, the result
would probably be a further decrease in applications. To achieve the desired
result - an increase in numbers of high quality entrants to the profession -
both approaches need to be adopted simultaneously.
While the Committee is cognisant of the impact of such a
measure on the viability of some small education faculties it considers the
need to attract able students into teaching, and to discourage poor performers,
should be the paramount consideration.
In order to address the concerns among teachers that some
existing pre-service courses do not meet the needs of schools it is essential
that classroom teachers are adequately represented on any accreditation board
and that they are in a position to influence the content, presentation and
organisation of pre-service training and research into teacher education. The
role of the accreditation board should include ongoing monitoring and
evaluation of courses.
The Committee has recommended, as part of the national body
for professional standards, establishment of a national accreditation board to
set and apply standards for entry to teacher training and for initial teacher
education, with members from university education departments, teachers,
employing authorities, unions and teachers' professional organisations.
Standards might be based on the National Standards and Guidelines for Initial
Although no formal accreditation arrangements are in place
there are many examples of cooperative ventures between education departments
and school teachers, as discussed. Some of these have lapsed because of
withdrawal of Commonwealth funding. Given their widespread acceptance in
schools and universities and the high quality of their work the Committee would
like to see them reinstated on a permanent basis.
A number of witnesses referred to the lack of a research
culture and tradition in teaching, as compared with some other professions.
This may reflect the history of teacher education in Australia. Until recently
it was conducted outside universities in institutions with no research culture
and no research training for staff. Witnesses contended that, despite the fact
that teacher training is now taking place within universities, old attitudes to
research persist, to the detriment of the profession.
What we have is a professional practice that often does not
honour research or expect that the practice can be much informed by theoretical
Other witnesses pointed to the inadequacy of funding for
research into education. This was estimated by one witness
at 0.15 per cent of total industry expenditure. The Committee acknowledges the
inadequacy of current funding for research in education. It supports the
establishment of a national development fund for research. The Committee
envisages that reseach funded by such a body would have a collaborative and
practical focus and that it would not be conducted solely within universities.
The Committee RECOMMENDS the establishment of a National
Teacher Education Network comprising a consortium of innovative teacher
education faculties and schools to build upon the work of the National Schools
Network and the Innovative Links Project in modelling best practice in the
development and delivery of initial and continuing teacher education.
The Committee RECOMMENDS the establishment of a national
development fund for research in education.
The establishment of a national course accreditation body to
administer guidelines and standards as suggested above would assure the public
of the quality of teacher education. This would be a major step in enhancing
The Committee has formed the view, on the basis of evidence
submitted during the Inquiry, that there is widespread support among all the
major stakeholders for a national accreditation body and for implementation of
the National Standards and Guidelines for Initial Teacher Education
developed by the Australian Council of Deans of Education.
The Queensland Board of Teacher Registration and its
Professional Education Committee, which advises on acceptable standards for
teacher education courses, provide a successful model, as do its Guidelines for
Pre-service Teacher Education. The latter have apparently been substantially incorporated
into the National Guidelines.
The Committee concludes, on the basis of the evidence
presented, that there is room for improvement in initial teacher education
programs and that this could best be encouraged through better communication
between schools and university education faculties. To this end the Committee
would like to see more widespread adoption of existing programs of exchange
between university education faculty staff and school teaching staff.
In order to encourage experienced teachers to supervise
student teachers the Committee considers that supervising teachers should have
their supervisory role acknowledged by including it as a criterion for
Teacher induction covers the period of a beginning teacher's
placement in school upon completion of pre-service training. It normally
continues for a year, at the end of which the teacher is subject to some form
of assessment to establish his/her suitability for appointment or full
registration. Induction arrangements may also be made for experienced teachers
returning to teaching after an extended absence.
Arrangements for teacher induction are very diverse, varying
according to State/Territory jurisdiction, school system and individual school.
While everybody recognises the importance of induction in theory,
its practical implementation is a different matter The Committee heard widely
different views on existing induction procedures. These ranged from appalling
to excellent. In many schools no induction procedures are in place at all.
This section of the Report describes and analyses existing
induction practices looking first at some unacceptable arrangements and then at
some highly successful ones and concluding with some suggestions for future
Existing Induction Arrangements - the Negatives
It is generally acknowledged by all those involved -
university educators, practising teachers, education departments and beginning
teachers themselves - that no pre-service training can fully prepare new
teachers to perform at their full capacity from their first day at work. This
is not a reflection on the quality of new teachers nor on the standard of
pre-service training. It is a recognition of the complexity of teaching and of
the large number of variables (such as type of school, socio-economic and
cultural background of students, school 'ethos', extent of support from
colleagues and principal etc) affecting a teacher's performance. This being the
case, induction programs have a vital role in ensuring a smooth transition for
beginning teachers from university trainees to competent practitioners.
The Schools Council has
identified the following desirable elements of successful induction
- beginning teachers should, as an entitlement, have fewer
class responsibilities in their first year
- one or more experienced teachers should have designated
responsibility for beginning teachers
- beginning teachers should receive ongoing training.
Evidence presented to the Committee suggests that many
induction arrangements fail to meet these criteria. Indeed, in the case of
reduced classroom workload the position appears to be deteriorating as
financial pressures in schools increase.
Before the massive cuts to our education system, there was
sufficient flexibility at times for first-year teachers to have a lighter
teaching load and to have an experienced teacher 'keep an eye' on them. During
this decade, the cuts in teacher numbers have seen an increase in class sizes
and an increase in the teaching load of senior teachers.
These changes have made it almost impossible to have beginning
teachers on less than a full teaching load and more difficult for new teachers
to be mentored.
Induction programs have been adversely affected by the trend
away from permanency to temporary or casual employment. Employing authorities
and schools are not prepared to provide additional time and resources to assist
staff who may then move to another school or out of the teaching force
Teachers, I am afraid, are really out on their own at a very
early stage, often having to move up to the country to take up initial
appointments just for one term. They bounce from one school to the next school
to the next school. These are schools that unfortunately often simply do not
find the time to provide proper support and induction to a teacher who is not
likely to be there next term. That is a problem.
Nor are beginning teachers on short term contracts well
placed to benefit from induction programs, where these are offered.
... the beginning teacher needs to feel there is a future for
them at the school. Short-term (term by term) contract work is not conducive to
effective induction programs as the beginner often feels stress to perform
immediately and not develop their skills, to take a path of professional least
risk and not experiment with their practices.
Far from having their workloads reduced, beginning teachers
are sometimes under so much pressure to obtain permanent employment that they
often undertake additional tasks. This places further stress on new
teachers at a time when they are most vulnerable.
At present, the people directly supervising beginning teachers
in schools are also those who most benefit from any additional tasks the new
teacher agrees to take on. I believe that beginning teachers are also owed a
duty of care within our schools and that this spirit is being seriously
breached. A beginning teacher is normally on probation for at least a year and
passing through this probationary process is dependent on the judgement of the
supervisory teacher and panel. The young teacher is not in a position to refuse
any additional tasks assigned to him or her under these circumstances.
Most commentators on teacher education and induction stress
the importance of a mentor to assist teachers during the induction period. The
Queensland Board of Teacher Registration, for example, found that the
professional support and sympathetic counselling of an experienced teacher not
involved in the formal assessment of the beginning teacher was by far the
single most valuable component of induction.
Teachers agreed, some going so far as to say that the
success of the entire induction process hinged upon the quality of mentoring
provided. Like other aspects of induction however, the role and quality of
mentors appears to be very variable. The Committee heard of many examples of
enthusiastic and empathetic mentors whose assistance had been critical to the
success (and sometimes even to the survival) of beginning teachers. These will
be discussed later. It also heard of a number of cases in which mentors were
uninterested, unskilled, uncaring and lazy. The effect upon beginning teachers
could be devastating.
Far too many beginning teachers have no mentors and very
little other support. Queensland witnesses suggested that up to 50 per cent of
beginning teachers in Queensland were in this position. This is particularly
disturbing given that Queensland has one of the better developed and structured
The figures and the evidence that many graduates who are quite
successful in their final year still falter and fail in their beginning year of
teaching are fairly well documented. The other evidence that is probably
critical here is that something like 50 per cent of those beginning teachers fail
to get any formalised support in their schools in their first year.
Large quantitative and small scale qualitative research confirm
that the chances of the beginning teacher receiving structured support during
induction are about 50:50.
The situation elsewhere is even worse.
The main problem particularly in NSW, is that funded supervised
induction does not exist.
Induction programs for newly-trained teachers, at least in Western
Australian State schools, has not been established as a practice.
Successful induction becomes more difficult to sustain when
- as is increasingly the case - new teachers are sent to the most difficult
schools. In these circumstances their efforts are directed to survival rather
than reflection upon their teaching practice, especially when they are expected
to teach outside their subject areas. Furthermore, such schools tend to have
fewer experienced staff in a position to act as mentors, with more demands upon
their time than teachers in easy to staff schools.
It is not unusual for 10-15 beginning teachers to be appointed
to a school with a high rate of staff turnover (in excess of 30% in some
cases). In these schools there are very few experienced teachers to give the
induction/support needed for new staff. For the few experienced staff available
the added workload is a major source of stress.
It is important to note that in the most difficult schools we
have the least experienced teachers and the lowest level of professional
On-school site considerations also leave much to be desired of
neophyte teachers. Frequently, they are allocated to subject areas outside
their specialist preparation in the secondary sector, and are often relegated
to teach in the "left over" classes - the students that experienced teachers
have chosen not to teach.
A further problem for many new teachers is that their own
backgrounds, still predominantly middle class, Australian born and urban, are
very different from those of the majority of students in difficult to staff
schools. Dinham and Scott, among others, have commented on the impact of this
'culture shock' upon beginning teachers.
... those entering teaching were predominantly 'middle class'
with English speaking backgrounds and were from fairly supportive and stable
home backgrounds... Such people were unprepared for the 'culture' shock they
experienced on appointment to schools as a result of the questionable practice
whereby educational systems appoint their most inexperienced teachers to the
most difficult schools, with the 'promise' of a transfer to a more favourable
area if such teachers survive this 'baptism by fire'.
The Committee was advised that inadequate induction
arrangements for beginning teachers in rural areas contributes to high drop out
rates for this group.
I have a strong sense that we lose too many teachers through the
cracks in those transition years. It is one area where I think we could,
without too much effort, provide some substantial support to beginning
teachers, for whom it is often their first time away from family and who are
struggling with a whole range of emotional and social sorts of issues as well
as the curriculum.
Drop out rates are a particular concern among new Aboriginal
Within Darwin and the greater area, we have 60 indigenous
teachers. Only five of them are in classrooms, however.... It is hard for any
person going out into the schools first year out. Our indigenous teachers do
not last in the classroom because it is very difficult to teach an English
constructed program to Aboriginal kids.
Existing induction procedures are ad hoc. They depend for
their success on the support of school principals and staff and on the good
will and skill of selected mentors. In general they receive no backing from
education bureaucracies and no financial support. Devolution has tended to
exacerbate the trend to declining support from a central department. This
affects induction programs along with many other aspects of teachers' working
lives. Because, in most systems, there is no formal structure for induction,
there is no attempt to ensure that it is of adequate quality, or even that it
takes place at all.
The Committee was advised that only the Australian Capital
Territory and the Northern Territory have centrally organised induction
programs. The Northern Territory Government provides approximately $970 per
teacher per year for induction. In 1992, the ACT estimated that it was spending
$8000 per inductee per year,
with teachers in their first year spending four days a week in the classroom
and one day a week allowed for preparation. During the fifth day they were
replaced by relief teachers. Such an arrangement no longer applies, although a
systematic induction program is still carried out.
From the point of view of the beginning teacher, induction
is a lottery. Some new teachers who are lucky enough to be assigned good
mentors and supportive principals benefit immensely from their induction
experiences. For others the situation is quite different.
Schools often appear to have a deficit approach to induction.
They see it as remedying deficiencies in pre-service teacher education. They
therefore fail to capitalise on the enthusiasm, energy and new ideas of
beginning teachers and so miss an opportunity to update their own skills and
A further criticism of many existing induction programs is
that they are developed and implemented in isolation from university educators.
The links developed by beginning teachers with university staff during
pre-service are not continued through to the induction year. Established
teachers, beginning teachers and university educators alike thus miss a
valuable opportunity for integrating educational theory and practice. In
particular, the potential for university educators to assist in the preparation
of mentors seems rarely to have been realised. The opportunity to link
pre-service, induction and continued professional development as part of a
seamless process is also weakened.
Existing Induction Arrangements - the Positives
Many of the positive comments on induction in evidence to
the Committee related to the high quality of the mentoring provided to some
beginning teachers and its benefits.
Every time I go into a different teaching experience, I realise
how ill-prepared I am. So the learning is continual. But what was essential for
me was the mentor.
I would also like to say something about the mentor. I think
that is what has helped me the most this year. I have had a lot of support from
my principal. I have also had a buddy teacher at school, which I think is very
Some mentoring arrangements succeeded simply because of the
skill and experience of the supervising teacher and his/her preparedness to
spend time and effort with the beginning teacher. In other cases however
schools had well developed, structured induction programs and these tended to
provide the most helpful induction experiences because the skills of the mentor
were balanced by support from other staff members.
The following example, from South Australia, was one of a
number provided to the Committee. These examples indicate that individual
schools often have very successful induction arrangements in place but, without
broader system support and back up, they are very dependent on the good will
and initiative of individual school staff, especially the principal. More
system support would facilitate the sharing of information between schools and
the sharing of resources, thus reducing the burden on individual schools.
John Pirie Secondary School has a highly structured induction
programme. It operates at a number of levels.
Deputy Principal has a responsibility of spending time with new
staff to introduce them to the policies and practices of the school.
... All staff also belong to a middle ...school team. These
teams of teachers work with a small number of classes. This is an ideal
situation for inexperienced teachers as they have access to a number of staff
who know the students with whom they are working.
... There is also a "buddy" system which provides
informal support. New staff choose a buddy in the first few days; this is a
peer and is able to offer day to day support.
A number of induction documents have been or are in the
process of preparation to assist schools and beginning teachers. They include,
for example, 'Welcoming New Teachers', prepared by the Queensland Board of
Teacher Registration, 'Teacher Induction', an Information Booklet for
Principals and Teachers prepared by the Standards Council of the Teaching
Profession, Victoria and an Induction Kit prepared by the Australian Teaching
Structured induction programs are most developed in
Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. In
Queensland a provisionally registered teacher (that is, one who has completed
pre-service training) is required by the Board of Teacher Registration to
complete one year's teaching service before becoming eligible for full
registration. At the end of the year the beginning teacher's competence is
assessed before full registration is granted. The assessment is normally made
by local school staff. However, the Board expects the beginning teacher and the
school to adhere to a structured program of professional development and
feedback according to guidelines which it has developed. These are not
prescriptive but include the following elements:
- a planned and systematic process of professional development,
monitoring and feedback including, for example, submission to the Board by the
induction team of a professional development/induction plan against which
progress is reported during the year
- the beginning teacher's competency is assessed according to the National
Competency Framework for Beginning Teachers
- separation of the provision of advice (by a mentor) from
assessment (by an appraiser) by appointment of two different staff members for
- assessment to be continuous throughout the year
- a team approach to be adopted, including teacher educators where
- a supportive school environment.
The Board sets out the characteristics normally to be
expected in mentors, appraisers and other induction team members. It supports
the establishment of professional development networks to link beginning
teachers and their mentors and encourages employing authorities to allow
adequate time for the induction process.
In practice, the Board's induction program often fails to
fulfil expectations. In particular, few schools are able to allow the time
necessary to implement induction programs in the way envisaged by the Board.
Some experienced teachers are reluctant to act as assessors (as noted earlier
in this Chapter). Regardless of the guidelines, the single most important
factor in successful induction remains the quality of the mentors and this the
Board is unable to guarantee.
Nevertheless, the Queensland model is an important
development. It acknowledges the importance of teacher induction and sets out
the basic elements of a successful program. While the Board is not in a
position to enforce its guidelines it has provided a model of good practice to
which its schools can aspire and a structured approach to replace the ad hoc
one which characterises most induction programs. The model was trialed in three
regions of Queensland during 1997 and is currently being evaluated. If
successful it will be extended to other Queensland schools.
The Northern Territory Department of Education has developed
one of the most comprehensive induction systems of any State or Territory,
partly as a response to the very high rate of separation among Northern
Territory teachers in their first two years of teaching. The Northern Territory
- 4-5 days of in-service training for all beginning teachers, held
in a central location
- 2 days in-service training held in an education department
- a one day school based program
- a recall program involving 2 days in a central or regional centre
approximately two months into the teaching year
- a peer support group in each individual school to provide both
professional and personal support throughout the first year of teaching.
The Northern Territory Government's induction and peer
probation program was identified in an APEC study
as 'exemplary' and 'one of the most comprehensive induction processes in
The ACT induction program is the best funded in the country.
It involves a structured assessment program and evaluation against set
criteria. It provides both support and a range of professional development
opportunities for beginning teachers.
The Committee also heard of induction programs which
involved teacher educators. In the Northern Territory, for example, teachers
trained at the University of the Northern Territory received guidance and
support from university educators during their first year of teaching. This was
valuable for all participants, not least the educators themselves, because of
the feedback they received about the appropriateness and usefulness of their
pre-service courses for beginning teachers.
The Committee was advised of a number of schemes designed to
attract teachers to remote areas by offering them financial and other
incentives. Although these were not designed specifically for beginning
teachers such teachers were often major beneficiaries because large numbers of
new teachers are sent to rural and remote schools. Schemes included the Remote
Area Incentive Scheme (RAIS) in Queensland and the Remote Area Teaching Service
in Western Australia.
The Committee heard little evidence of cases in which
beginning teachers were allowed reduced workloads. Nor was it common for
financial assistance to be provided for induction so that, for example,
induction team members could be allowed time out from regular classes.
Successful induction therefore involved a significant additional workload for
experienced teachers. Many were happy to contribute as part of their
professional responsibilities but, as their general workloads increase, there
must be some doubt about their continued willingness or capacity to contribute
in this way. This is particularly the case for the most committed and
conscientious teachers - the very people one would hope to encourage into
mentoring new teachers. At the very least therefore the Committee considers
that the criteria governing teacher promotion should include a component to
recognise successful mentoring. It might also be factored into university
credits for teachers upgrading their qualifications.
The Way Forward
On the basis of the evidence presented the Committee has
formed the view that teacher induction programs are generally ad hoc and very
variable in quality and effectiveness. It applauds the efforts of the
Queensland Board of Teacher Registration and of the NT and ACT governments to
provide some structure for induction and some guidelines to assist schools and
systems in implementing them.
The Committee heard of many examples of good induction
practice and would like to see information on these more widely disseminated.
While it does not consider any one model of induction should be imposed upon
schools it would like to see models developed which incorporate the following
- clearer processes and guidelines at the system level
adequate release time for beginning teachers and supporting
- separation of mentoring and appraiser roles and personnel
provision for periodic assessment, review and evaluation, with
opportunity for feedback by, and to, the new teacher
- links to pre-service education and professional development as
part of a continuing process
- national accreditation of induction programs (allowing sufficient
flexibility to accommodate the wide variety of schools and circumstances likely
to be encountered by beginning teachers)
- successful completion of accredited induction programs (possibly
based on meeting the competencies set out in the National Competency
Frameworks for Beginning Teachers) as a prerequisite for full teacher
The Committee notes teachers' view that the greatest
impediment to successful induction is lack of time - both for beginning
teachers and for supervising teachers. This is of course a difficult time in
which to recommend reduced workloads for supervising and beginning teachers.
There are resourcing implications. However, the costs are likely to be
significantly less than the costs of losing qualified teachers to the
profession. Given the role of successful induction in increasing beginning
teachers' productivity and in retaining them in the teaching service such
resourcing as is required should be viewed as an investment rather than a cost.
No figures are available on general retention rates for
teachers in Australia (although 1991 figures for New South Wales Government
schools showed total separations in the first two years of teaching were 7.4%).
American statistics suggest an attrition rate of approximately 50% for teachers
in the first six years of teaching. The American figures also show retention is
highest where structured support is offered to new teachers.
As noted earlier in the Report, casualisation of the
teaching force has many detrimental effects on the professionalism of teachers
and the quality of teaching. Not least is its impact upon induction of
beginning teachers. New teachers denied formal induction on the grounds of
their casual status (or on any other grounds) are in a very vulnerable
position. They may never reach their full potential as teachers. At best, it
will take longer for them to do so than teachers who receive induction
assistance upon entry to the profession. At worst, they may fail to develop the
skills necessary to enable them to survive in the profession and thus be lost
The Committee RECOMMENDS that the proposed national
professional teaching standards and registration body include among its
responsibilities the development of a suggested structure for induction
programs nationally and guidelines to assist schools and government and
non-government systems in implementing them.
The Committee expects that, as in Queensland, successful
completion of an induction program would be a necessary prerequisite for full
The Committee encourages all school systems to recognise the
importance of induction in practical ways, by allowing adequate time for
beginning and supervising teachers to participate effectively in structured
induction programs. The Committee believes that all school systems should be
required to offer beginning teachers access to structured induction programs
during their first year of teaching.
The nature of teaching is constantly changing, as documented
elsewhere in this Report. Consequently, it is imperative that teachers update
their skills and subject knowledge throughout their careers. Failure to do so
will undermine both their professionalism and their effectiveness in preparing
students for a changing world. Successful professional development, undertaken
periodically, will enhance teachers' skills and professionalism and, through
shared experiences, assist in reducing the isolation inherent in teaching. Such
isolation, if not addressed, can be a powerful contributor to stress and low
morale. Successful professional development can, on the contrary, empower and
The term professional development covers a very wide range
of courses, seminars, workshops and other forms of education and training. They
can range in length from a one off, one hour lecture to full post graduate
courses. Some are accredited and some are not. Some are run from central
locations and attended by teachers from many schools in the area. Others are
school based and focussed on the staff of an individual school. Some are
residential. They are run by university education departments, government
education departments, subject and professional associations and, increasingly,
by contracted private providers. This diversity has made it difficult to
control either the content or the standard of professional development.
The type, quality and availability of professional
development is very variable between systems, jurisdictions and schools. Again,
professional development is recognised by all concerned as essential, at least
in theory, but the reality is quite different.
This section of the Report looks first at the inadequacy of
current professional development practices and coverage. The following section
looks at the characteristics of high quality professional development, with
reference to some examples of good practice brought to the Committee's
attention during the Inquiry. The section concludes with a consideration of
some general measures to improve the relevance and quality of professional
Professional Development - Inadequacies of Current Practice
One of the major criticisms of existing professional
development courses and other in-service arrangements brought to the
Committee's attention was the lack of input by serving teachers to their
content, design or implementation. Consequently teachers often considered they
were inappropriate to their needs.
Professional development is important to teachers, but it must
be controlled and organised by teachers to make it relevant. Too much current
professional development is theoretical and unrelated to the real and immediate
needs of the teaching profession.
Classroom-relevant content and easily adaptable teaching and
instructional methods are infrequently presented in inservice courses.
Much of the evidence critical of current professional
development arrangements referred to their ad hoc and piecemeal nature, to
their poor intellectual quality and their lack of a conceptual framework.
The professional development programs that we have provided for
a long time in this country are very ad hoc, hit and miss, crammed into busy
times of the year, not well thought through, with no official accreditation and
no official recognition. They are very much seen as bandaid, stopgap measures
and are not really planned to give ongoing development.
... the department here in Western Australia currently... offers
short term, half-day or day courses at district offices and things of that
nature - after school, weekends, in the holidays. But, to me, it is spasmodic
and ad hoc ... - and I do not think they have that next level of access to
academia, or the specialists in areas of school research and pedagogical
research.... To me, that is what primary teachers, and a lot of secondary
teachers as well, miss out on - that opportunity to have that high-level type
of professional development.
This situation is not unique to Australia. The following
description of a teacher professional development program in America points to
similar problems there.
It's everything that a learning environment shouldn't be:
radically under-resourced, brief, not sustained, designed for
'one-size-fits-all,' imposed rather than owned, lacking in intellectual
coherence, treated as a special add-on event rather than part of a natural
process... In short, it's pedagogically naive, a demeaning exercise that often
leaves its participants more cynical and no more knowledgeable, skilled, or
committed than before.
Professional development courses were often held outside
school hours and were therefore sometimes difficult for teachers to attend.
Nevertheless, most made an effort to do so (as discussed in the next section)
Almost three quarters of the teachers [in a 1994 survey]
(74.1%) reported undertaking staff development outside work hours in 1996.
While 33.6% undertook one day's staff development in their own time, 20.2%
undertook between one and two days and 20.5% undertook more than two days.
In-service training in school hours, for which teachers were
allowed release time or replacement staff most commonly took the form of
one-stop workshops. These were generally considered by teachers to be the least
effective form of in-service training, especially where there was no follow up,
evaluation, time to put in place some of the strategies discussed or to discuss
or modify them with colleagues.
Very few resources were allocated by employers to
professional development. This limited the opportunities for teacher release
and, therefore, the type and duration of the courses which could be offered.
(Commonwealth funding through the National Professional Development Program
(NPDP) had overcome many of these problems for the duration of that Program, as
discussed later in this Chapter). Government cuts to funding for professional
development have meant that, where it continues, its costs are increasingly
borne by participating schools and by teachers themselves.
The extent of the cuts to professional development funding,
at least in one system, was apparent from the evidence of the Sydney South West
Primary Principals' Forum.
From our own point of view as practising teachers we are
concerned about the erosion of training and development funds. As an example of
that, again drawing on my own school, in 1996 my school grant included an
indicative allocation for training and development of the teachers of $14,000.
This year that was reduced to $1,750. The school has subsequently spent
$18,000, so the shortfall of $16,000 or $17,000 has been found in the school
budget at the expense of other areas of the curriculum.
Professional development is yet another area adversely
affected by devolution and the consequent diminution in levels of central
department support. Professional development is becoming increasingly the
responsibility of individual schools, which have neither the resources nor the
flexibility to organise regular, well structured professional development, even
if they have an interest in doing so. The rationale for devolving this
responsibility to schools is said to be so that they can then have greater
control over its content and organisation.
Some commentators support a school based approach.
Hargreaves is one of them, although he also acknowledges that there is a role
for course based professional development.
Much of the best professional learning in teaching is embedded
in what teachers do in their own schools and classrooms on a day-to-day basis.
Professional learning resources are in this respect often best allocated not to
courses, workshops and speakers away from where teachers do their teaching, but
for teachers to learn from and work with their own colleagues, and sometimes
from outside facilitators, in sharing ideas, planning together, being a mentor
for a colleague, team teaching, undertaking action research and so on.
Professional learning is least effective when it is reduced to paper chases for
certificates of course completion.
Unfortunately in-service education divisions are
disappearing from education departments, and with them many long term,
coherent, structured programs for professional development. With each school
increasingly responsible for its own professional development the trend to
piecemeal, ad hoc approaches - which teachers have identified as the greatest
weakness of existing provision - is intensified. Competition between schools
has also undermined collaborative approaches to professional development
between staff at neighbouring schools.
Where principals and staff place a high priority on
teachers' professional development, other programs must be cut to fund them.
... the professional development budget for this year... is
reduced by 90 per cent. If people actually adhere to that - most schools
recognise that professional development is the lifeblood of schools and the
lifeblood certainly of keeping staff going, moving and generating ideas - that
budget has to come from somewhere else, but where does it come from? We take it
away from some of our other learning programs.
Because of the difficulties referred to above some teachers
choose not to take up professional development opportunities, even where these
are available. The Committee heard different views on whether teachers should
be compelled to participate in professional development where this was offered,
or whether such compulsion would in fact undermine teacher professionalism rather
than enhancing it. The Tasmanian Primary Principals' Association held the
Once, teachers felt a professional responsibility to pursue
self-education so that their professional competence could be maintained. This
sense of personal responsibility was self-driven. A recent salary award
decision in Tasmania carried with it a requirement that teachers attend school
sites for an additional five days per year for compulsory professional
development. ... The potential effect of this compulsion is to cause
irretrievable damage to the professional attitudes of teachers, and to cause
teachers to withdraw that element of good will which has been unstinting in its
regard for the needs of students.
Those who favoured compulsory professional development suggested
it should be a requirement for continued registration of practising teachers.
This view is shared by the Committee. It is a recognition of the fact that
professional status incurs responsibilities as well as rewards.
There are strong arguments for the concept of ongoing
professional development as a compulsory aspect of continued accreditation.
While such an approach has financial implications, it has been accepted by
other professions and is of particular relevance to teaching because of the
continually changing and increasing demands on teachers.
More usually, teachers have few opportunities to undertake
professional development. This is particularly the case for teachers in rural
The 1994 KTAV [Kindergarten Teachers' Association of Victoria]
survey reported that 15% of teachers reported no access to professional
development and 73% reported as little as one day per year not exceeding five
days and often undertaken in teachers' own time.
Let us take the example of a teacher in the Victorian country.
The same applies to the country areas of any state. Regrettably, most of the
very short professional development programs that are run are run in capital
cities. For the teachers at the school where I am principal, which is some 250
kilometres out, they have...to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning and... drive
down to where they are going...participate in this particular program which
runs for the day, and then spend another 31/2 to 4 hours on the road
to get back home that night.
Moves to full fee paying for graduate course work programs
are expected to greatly reduce the number of teachers seeking to upgrade their
skills. This was an issue referred to repeatedly by both serving teachers and
university educators in submissions and at public hearings.
Recent reductions in the funding available for professional
development has contributed to a lowering of teacher morale. The removal of
funding for coursework MAs, for example, demonstrated to teachers that such
individual efforts at professional development are no longer valued or desired
by employing authorities.
As a result of 1996 Budget decisions, masters degrees by
coursework will, from 1998, attract full fees. This will lead to a significant
restriction of professional development opportunities for teachers. Since
teaching is a relatively low-paid profession and the attainment of a higher
degree does not routinely lead to an increase in salary, it is very likely that
fees will act as a disincentive to teachers contemplating enrolment in post graduate
Quality Professional Development
The Committee received some very positive views on
professional development. It is quite clear from these that teachers recognise
the importance of professional development and that most seize the
opportunities available for participation, despite the sometimes significant
financial costs and time commitments involved.
At our summer school program that was funded by the previous
government 16 professional development schools were oversubscribed by 500 per
cent every time we advertised them.
Teachers have one of the highest rates of participation in
courses to upgrade their qualifications, despite the fact that such
qualifications are rarely recognised in teacher promotion procedures, attract
no additional salary and are often undertaken without any employer support.
In... 1996 there were... about 20,000 teachers involved in
graduate coursework programs around Australia in an industry that provides no
incentive in terms of salaries for people pursuing higher qualifications. These
same people now are going to have to pay the equivalent of $10,000 a year to
pursue a full-time... graduate coursework program. They will simply not do it.
And yet, that is the very platform of continuing professional
development that is fundamental to a rigorous professional development context
for Australia's teachers.
The Committee heard many examples of good practice in
teachers' professional development. The examples referred to here are typical
of many discussed in submissions and public hearings.
One of the most interesting examples was brought to the
Committee's attention by the Country Education Project (Inc) in Victoria.
The Project used funds from the National Professional Development Program
(NPDP) to develop and trial a model of high quality professional development
for teachers in isolated rural schools. Trials were held in rural clusters of
schools in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia in 1995 and
1996. Called the Rural Professional Education Program, the trials linked
university education departments and schools and incorporated several novel
Pre-service teachers undertook their practicals in the
cluster schools (which were government and non-government, primary and
secondary) under supervision. They lived in rural centres, sometimes in
accommodation provided by parents. This gave the students an insight into life
in rural schools and communities. They were provided with a range of
opportunities including replacing a class teacher, operating as casual relief
teachers and as members of teaching teams.
The teachers they replaced used their release from the
classroom to participate in professional education courses held locally. This
was an opportunity often denied to rural teachers because of the time and costs
involved in travelling long distances, accommodation at regional centres etc.
An important aspect of the professional development program was the involvement
of parents and the broader community in a number of sessions. The Committee
commends the CEP on this initiative, which it considers has the potential for
Some of the most innovative professional development work
recently undertaken in Australia has been conducted as part of the National
Schools Network (NSN) program. It has brought together university educators and
teachers at in depth, week long work shops focussing on action research and
case writing as agents of professional development, thus bringing together
theory and practice in teaching. The NSN approach has recognised that much of
teachers' professional learning occurs within the work place and has sought to
enhance collegial, collaborative approaches to professional development. This
is different from most traditional forms of professional development.
It seems that teachers learn best in collegial contexts and
these findings challenge the type of traditional one-off 'in-service' programs
delivered by 'experts' that are typically available to most Australian
In Queensland the Board of Teacher Registration sponsors a
professional development consortium in which all major stakeholders are
represented. The consortium publicises professional development initiatives,
seeks teachers' views on programs, undertakes research on professional development
issues and is currently examining the options for accrediting professional
In the Northern Territory the education department has
recently granted release time for primary school teachers to participate in
professional development. The Northern Territory Joint Council of Professional
Teachers Associations has provided some funding for professional development
for teachers from remote areas to discuss issues which they have identified as
of concern. These are very small scale but valuable initiatives which could be
expanded and replicated elsewhere.
Professional development of teachers has traditionally been
a State government responsibility. However, in 1993 the Commonwealth
established the National Professional Development Program (NPDP) in recognition
of the need for greater resourcing of this area and of a more consistent
approach to professional development across the country.
The NPDP allocated $60 million over three years to enhance
professional development for teaching staff in all Australian schools. Funds
were used for a wide range of projects including some designed to promote
partnerships between school teachers, university educators and education
authorities and some to encourage teaching organisations to take a higher
profile in promoting the professional development of teachers. An important
focus of the NPDP was to encourage teachers to play a central role in
determining their own professional development needs.
The Committee was impressed by the extent of the support for
the NPDP as illustrated in evidence from a very wide range of organisations and
individuals. It received no adverse comment on the Program from any witness or
any submission. The following excerpts are typical of the views expressed.
There were some wonderful programs done by the NPDP, and I think
that all the stakeholders who were involved in that would like to see it
One of the major disappointments for teachers in Victoria was
the ending of the national professional development program, which had actually
done an awful lot to lift people' spirits in relation to the governments
acknowledging that professional development, in a time of massive change, is a
key element of their working lives. I think that the cutting of that - and
virtually there is no replacement of it - has again sent that message to
teachers: what is the value of professional development?
The NPDP was an extraordinarily successful program in South
Australia. We were the only state to negotiate credit through the universities
for teacher participation in the program... and about 6,000 teachers took that
The Way Forward
On the basis of the evidence presented the Committee has
formed the view that the quality and appropriateness of professional
development for teachers is very variable. Much of it appears to be
ineffective. On the other hand, some very creative, even inspiring professional
development initiatives were brought to the Committee's attention. In
particular, those funded through the NPDP and the NSN were very highly regarded
by all those involved in them.
The Committee RECOMMENDS that the Commonwealth Government
reinstate the National Professional Development Program.
On the basis of the evidence it received the Committee
believes that successful professional development programs are likely to
incorporate a number of the following features:
teachers have significant input to all aspects of the program
- each component is part of a well structured, long term,
- programs link university education departments, teachers and
(where appropriate) other interested parties including parents, community
members and non teaching school staff
- programs include evaluation, feedback, follow up and modification
- the costs of professional development are shared between
governments (Commonwealth and State) schools and participants
- courses are accredited where feasible, and/or otherwise
recognised in professional teaching career structures
- strong links are established between pre-service, induction and continuing professional development
courses meet national standards.
The Committee would like to see professional development
providers and courses accredited to ensure national minimum standards are
established and adhered to. Teachers should play a major role in this process.
The Committee RECOMMENDS that the proposed national
professional teaching standards and registration body include among its
responsibilities the accreditation of professional development providers and
The Committee believes that, because of the great changes
facing schools and teachers, teachers should undertake professional development
throughout their working lives and that they should be supported in this by
employers and by individual schools through, for example, the employment of
relief staff to replace them and the provision of paid sabbatical leave etc.
The Committee recognises the extra burden which will be imposed on teachers
through a requirement for them to participate in professional development but
believes that, if it is relevant and of a high standard, teachers will be
generally supportive of such a requirement. Teachers should be afforded
flexibility and choice in the content, timing and organisation of the courses
The Committee RECOMMENDS that, in line with its
acknowledgment that teaching is a profession, teachers' participation in
professional development be a prerequisite for their continued registration, or
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