Application workshop: The “Commitment to mission” competency

9 April 2018

Through the selection process, candidates are assessed against eight competencies based on evidence of effectiveness in the classroom.

Liz Cullen is our Team Manager for Recruitment and Advocacy. She has a a background in Law/Arts, and is an Alumna of our Leadership Development Program. In this post, she suggests how to address the “Commitment to mission” competency in your application.


If you’re reading this, you’re probably:

  • Looking for tips to craft the strongest application ahead of pressing ‘submit’. Good on you! I hope this helps.
  • Still learning more about what Teach For Australia and the Leadership Development Program are – excellent, you’re doing your homework!
  • Lost. Since you’ve made it this far, stick around. You may just have found the opportunity for development and impact you’ve been looking for (whether you knew it or not!)

Teach For Australia’s mission is to address educational disadvantage by recruiting Australia’s future leaders and inspire, connect and empower them to take lifetime of action – activated by the classroom. We’re looking for people who are committed to helping us achieve our vision of an Australia where all children, regardless of background, attain an excellent education.

Did you know that, by age 15, students from the lowest socioeconomic households are, on average, almost three years behind students from the highest income households?

Across the board, Australian students are falling behind. A look at Australian educational outcomes reveals that academic achievement has declined over the past decade. Across reading and mathematics, the proportion of top performing Australian students is declining while the proportion of low performing students is growing.

Of particular concern is the inequity between the educational outcomes of students from different backgrounds. Students from low socioeconomic households, who are Indigenous Australians, from rural or remote communities or from a refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds, are more likely to experience educational disadvantage.

Without addressing the inequity in academic achievement of students from these backgrounds, the education gap grows over time. If carried on to the next generation of students, a cycle of disadvantage is created.

Despite the barriers that students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds face, it is possible for students who have missed educational milestones to catch up. Research shows that quality teaching and excellent school leadership are vital contributors to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and achieving excellence and equity in Australia’s education system.

Aside from the moral case or social justice impetus, addressing educational disadvantage will have flow on benefits. If Australia could reduce or eliminate the gap in educational outcomes between students from low SES and high SES households, the susceptibility for social disadvantage to be passed down the generations would decline by up to 40 per cent (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, 2016). In return, the Australian economy would prosper. “Improving teacher effectiveness would have a greater impact on economic growth than any other reform before Australian governments (Grattan Institute, 2010).”

Let me suggest three next steps to learn more about our mission, build your understanding of educational disadvantage and articulate why you are passionate about joining a community committed to making a change at a school, community, system and global level.

  1. Watch this short clip which brings educational disadvantage to life.
  2. Read this powerful personal story and reflection on how disadvantage can look in a classroom.
  3. Learn more about the state of educational inequity in Australia through stories and statistics which are playing out right now in students’ lives across the country.

And an extra step for good measure (!), because we want you to be as confident as you can be:

  1. Speak to one of our Recruitment and Advocacy Manager about your application before you submit. They are there to help and can discuss how your experiences might best align to our competencies. You can find your local best point of contact here.

Best of luck with your application and possibly, the start of this life-changing journey!


“Commitment to mission” is one of the eight competencies we assess against in your application. Learn about all of our eligibility requirements and selection criteria here.

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We work in regions and communities where Associates can have the most impact, which often leads to once-in-a-lifetime opportunties to live in a new, exciting, and diverse regions of Australia.