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

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

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

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Learn more about Teach for Australia, our programs and our cohorts.

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