Improving the status of teachers

Samantha Bennett1 Comment

Friday, 29 March 2019. 9.30am – 4pm. MCG

Forum registration:

A number of SoEd staff, together with representatives of the media, political parties, governments, unions, peak education bodies, school leaders, teacher education students, teachers, youth advocates, ITE academics and think tank researchers will meet in Melbourne on 29 March 2019 to discuss ways to improve the status of teachers in Australia.

‘We constantly hear that we need to attract the best and the brightest into teaching, but there is no silver bullet or quick-fix solution. We need a long-term, collaborative, national strategy that works on many levels,’ the Forum host, Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) President, Professor Tania Aspland, says.

The issue needs to be tackled on several fronts with fresh thinking in areas that include:

  • Ways to inspire secondary students to become teachers
  • Improving support for potential teachers from educators, parents, partners and peers
  • Understanding current promotion of the teaching profession and how it can be improved
  • Media framing of the profession
  • Pathways into the profession
  • Pay and working conditions compared to other prestigious careers
  • Trajectories for career advancement
  • Teacher wellbeing

‘The continuing drop in teacher education applications is happening while primary school student numbers are rising and many in the aging teacher workforce are approaching retirement,’ Professor Aspland says.

‘The attractiveness of the teaching profession is vitally important if we are to ensure that we havethe best candidates to teach the students, who are our nation’s future, and also avoid a shortage of teachers.

‘Changing negative perceptions of the teaching profession will not happen overnight so it is critical that we, as a collaboration, get to work as soon as possible,’ she says.

All those interested in improving the status of teachers are welcome although seats are limited.

A copy of the agenda is attached:

One Comment on “Improving the status of teachers”

  1. Last week I appeared as a witness on behalf of RMIT, as part of a panel of other witnesses that included colleagues from teacher education institutions, retired ACER legend Lawrence Ingvarsen, and a primary school teacher who left permanent teaching last year after 15 years in the profession. Initially things got off to a promising start, with three of the committee members listening attentively to our brief statements. Issues that surfaced included a few barrows being pushed by selected academics (integrating languages education into other curriculum areas; pathways for quality teachers’ aides and integration aides) but also strong criticism of the top down, compliance-driven policy basis in Australian education that has left teachers feeling disempowered and lacking in autonomy. Jim Waterston raised the significant point that in most metropolitan areas Australian students and school perform very well, on the whole, but that the performance gap between metropolitan and regional/rural areas is widening, and substantially wider for remote communities. Issues of burn out, emotional stress, inconsistent support for graduate teachers and the gradual but substantial shift in responsibilities from parents/community to teachers/schools were also surfaced. As I said, things were looking promising. Until the politicians starting asking questions – mostly related to data. It became apparent that the obsession with data is still alive and well in the halls of Parliament in Canberra, with calls to use similar approaches to big data as used in medicine. I respectfully reminded the chair that children were not pathogens – and that quote will be immortalised in Hansard!! In the end, teachers were still under attack by the parliamentarians (why don’t we get students and parents to evaluate teachers? was one bright idea!) as was the ‘black box’ of initial teacher education programs (that comment drew some ire from many of the panelists, including me). On the whole the end result of the day was an increase in Nicky’s blood pressure, but an important opportunity for RMIT to have a seat at the table alongside colleagues with shared interests, research and viewpoints.

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