This year, Teach For Australia celebrates ten years. This milestone is an occasion to think back on where we came from and what Teach For Australia has achieved in the past decade, but it’s also a poignant moment to look towards the future and ask ourselves: What will it take from all of us to narrow the gap so that all children, regardless of background, attain an excellent education?
When I look back on the initial conversations I had over ten years ago in setting up TFA and articulating our contribution towards educational equity, it strikes me how incredibly far we’ve already come. Then, the big question people kept asking was, “Why would high achievers and particularly recent graduates ever choose teaching?”
This was part of the disbelief that Teach For Australia had to overcome. Now, as we continue to recruit high-calibre graduates, we are also attracting people already established in their careers to share their skills in classrooms where they are most needed. We can be proud that over the past decade, Teach For Australia has received over 11,000 applications from diverse, motivated and intelligent individuals who wanted to make a difference in the lives of Australia’s young people through teaching. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come in breaking down those initial barriers, in improving the status of the teaching profession, and bringing an increased focus on the need for educational equity to Australia.
Two independent evaluations have shown this impact. We’re no longer an unproven idea, we’re an established movement – and we continue to disrupt the way Australia approaches this wicked problem of educational disadvantage.
But there’s so much more to do. Ten years isn’t long enough to ‘fix’ the problem, this is a lifelong commitment. We need a richer ecosystem of education actors that aren’t recycling the same old ideas – we need to break new ground. And we can’t lose sight of why we’re all in this work. Up till now, adults have been making decisions for kids – but we need more young voices and student leadership guiding what the system should look like. We need to be flexible and we need to be creative. We need a new level of commitment to the ultimate reason why we’re here: kids deserve better than we’re currently giving them.
Over the next ten years, we will seek to better galvanise our community – of Associates, Fellows and Alumni and all those that intersect with and share our mission – to ask what it will take to narrow the education gap, and take action.