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Response: Inquiry into measurement and outcome-based funding in New South Wales schools

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Teach For Australia has noted the NSW Government’s response to the Legislative Council’s Inquiry into measurement and outcome-based funding in New South Wales schools.

We appreciate the purpose behind the broader Inquiry and recognise that Recommendation 50 of the Committee’s report endorsed the Teach For Australia program to be introduced into NSW government schools.

Regarding the Government’s response to Recommendation 50, which questions the efficacy of our program, Teach For Australia would note that we have demonstrated over 11 years of impact in our support of Australian students and schools. An independent evaluation of our program commissioned by the Australian Government found:

  • Over 80% of principals say a key reason they will recruit Teach For Australia program participants in the future is enthusiasm and dedication to teaching and the school, and because participants are high-performers with demonstrated academic success. Principals highlighted intellectual capability, subject matter expertise and value for money.
  • Participants deliver skills and subject matter expertise that schools need, such as STEM qualifications. In principal responses, 62% said a key reason they would recruit participants in future is that ‘they provide specific subject matter expertise we would otherwise be unable to obtain.’
  • Participants possess leadership qualities that schools need and Teach For Australia is developing a pipeline of leaders. The evaluation found that after four years out of placement, most participants still teaching are in leadership roles.

It was also unfortunate to see inaccurate or outdated information being used in reference to the career progression of Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) Alumni.

This reference to the number of our Alumni who remain teaching appears based on a 2016 disputed approach to calculating retention, which used Victorian payroll data and information from public sources to make inferences that were extrapolated to all Alumni of the program. This presents an incorrect picture of Teach For Australia’s Alumni community and retention in teaching roles today.

Teach For Australia’s annual survey of our Alumni demonstrates that 84% are still working in the education sector. In addition, we also know:

  • 43% are eligible to teach STEM subjects
  • 60% have an ATAR above 90
  • 60% are working in Teach For Australia partner or eligible schools (ICSEA sub-1000)
  • 70% are teaching or in leadership positions at schools
  • A further 14% are using their skills and experience in education-related policy or support roles with education departments, or with education organisations including NGOs and charities.

Of the last four cohorts to graduate (participants who commenced 2015-2018) 88% have taught for a third year and 73% have taught for a fifth year.

We now have just over 600 alumni and they are highly regarded for their school leadership skills. To date there are 18 Teach For Australia Alumni who are principals or assistant principals, 53 who are lead or executive teachers, and 136 who have positions of responsibility at their schools.

It should be noted that the NSW Department for Education made no attempt to contact Teach For Australia to obtain up to date information or data, however we remain available to have these important discussions. 

We note the Government’s response to Recommendation 49 of the Inquiry’s Report that, subject to operational details, the Government will “develop a fast track mid-career entry program for those outside the teaching profession targeting technology, maths and science and positions in rural and regional schools.”

We also note that among key findings of the NSW Productivity Commission’s Green Paper, released in the same week, the Commission noted: “Fast-tracking high-quality entrants into teacher works, especially in shortage areas like maths” and further contained Recommendation (2.1): ”Design and implement faster and more flexible pathways into teaching to broaden the supply of quality teachers and address workforce gaps.”

As Australia’s original and leading employment based pathway into teaching focusing on STEM subject expertise and rural/regional placements, Teach For Australia would welcome any opportunity to share with the NSW Government our decade of experience, to assist with these developments.

Teach For Australia shares the NSW Government’s focus on lifting teacher quality in order to improve educational outcomes for students and close the education disadvantage gap that persists.

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