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1 July 2020

COVID-19 offers new insight to tackling Australia’s education gap

The rapid switch to distance learning due to Covid-19 has exposed new depths of education disadvantage in Australia but also brings fresh insight into how inequity can be tackled, according to Teach For Australia CEO Melodie Potts Rosevear.

“The education gap in Australia is real and it is persistent, but the broader education sector has a chance here to learn from this experience and address some really important equity issues that are now at the fore – like digital inclusion which impacts students, their families, teachers and schools,” Ms Potts Rosevear said.

Detailed new research has found that as schools raced to set up distance learning this year, teachers in Australia’s most disadvantaged schools were:

  • Four times less confident in their school’s capacity to transition to online learning
  • Four times less confident using their school’s primary technology
  • Half as confident that they had the professional learning necessary to teach online
  • Four times as worried about students’ lack of access to technology and the internet

The research by Pivot Professional Learning and Education Perfect surveyed educators from more than 10 per cent of Australian schools on experiences of online teaching and learning.

“The role of technology in the classroom was already growing before this pandemic but we see clearly now the serious equity issues it brings  – including lack of access to devices, lack of internet service, and challenges with digital competency,” Ms Potts Rosevear said.

“We also see a very dedicated teacher workforce that wants to collaborate and wants to ensure they have the right professional development as well as effective technology platforms to successfully teach online and keep students engaged.”

Teach For Australia (TFA) is an innovative not for profit organisation helping to tackle educational inequity by developing an additional teaching and leadership force for schools where it is most needed.

TFA’s Leadership Development Program recruits highly talented individuals, university graduates and career changers, to teach in low socioeconomic communities in Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Ms Potts Rosevear said the organisation had many examples of TFA teaching associates and partner schools being innovative and agile in the rapid transition to distance learning this year.

“We are terrifically proud of our associates and partner schools but the stark reality is they have been responding to problems and issues that were far less significant – even negligible – for some other school communities.

“We’re grateful for the comprehensive work of Pivot Professional Learning and Education Perfect in collating and analysing teacher feedback from this unprecedented moment in time for education in Australia.”

Teach For Australia’s CEO Melodie Potts Rosevear will be a guest panellist tonight at the launch of the white paper:

‘Socioeconomic disparities in Australian schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic’

Webinar: Wednesday 1st July, 6:30pm AEST

Register here