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TFA’s contribution to Initial Teacher Education national discussion

Teach for Australia Monday, July 19th, 2021

Teach For Australia (TFA) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to a national discussion about Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and its impact on students. Improvement to ITE is one of the levers by which we can ensure that education gives all children, regardless of their background, greater choice for their future.

TFA is at the forefront of ITE in Australia, leading with the effective design and delivery of our flagship program, the Leadership Development Program (“the program”). For more than a decade, TFA has recruited high-achieving qualified people who are passionate about teaching and developed them to be effective teachers and leaders.

Having ushered 1120 new teachers into classrooms – and placed them in locations as remote as Elcho Island (Galiwinku) off the coast of Arnhem Land or closer to home in our capital cities, such as at Mill Park Secondary in north-east Melbourne – TFA has developed a proven model for recruiting and developing teachers to make an impact on the lives of their students and communities. With a demonstrated record of recruiting in subject areas of greatest need and placing in hard-to-staff roles, TFA has learnt hard-won lessons on how to prepare teachers for the diversity and complexity of current day classrooms.

The recommendations in this submission reflect insights generated from 13 years of operation in which TFA has placed teachers in schools across six states and territories. The recommendations consider how TFA’s successful approach can inform a multi-level, multi-stakeholder strategy to advance the teaching profession in Australia.

Core to combating educational inequity and achieving our goals as a society is the need to:

  • Raise the public perception of teaching and use a rigorous selection process. Together, these changes will communicate the value of the profession and ensure the best candidates are chosen to teach in our classrooms.
  • Invest in the attraction and recruitment of subject experts and teachers from diverse backgrounds to enhance the workforce. A targeted approach, which seeks to educate candidates and understand their career motivations, can support the system in finding the teachers they need for the schools that need them the most.
  • Reduce barriers to entry by expanding employment-based pathways and removing unnecessary regulatory obstacles. These barriers unevenly weigh on career-changers, many of whom cannot make the move into teaching without employment-based pathways.
  • Foster partnerships between ITE and schools to enhance the quality of ITE. These partnerships should be underpinned by a willingness to support ITE students to become effective teachers in classrooms.
  • Bridge the divide between theory and practice, by providing instructional coaches to pre-service and early career teachers. In recognising expert practitioners already in classrooms and providing them with avenues to train our newest teachers, we can amplify effective practice.
  • Carefully select the contexts that our newest teachers learn in. First impressions count and early experiences of schools can have a significant impact on the development and retention of new teachers.
  • Make teaching a career worth having. If we want to our teachers to thrive, we need to give them the right balance of challenge, support and recognition.

TFA stands ready to support where needed. We have a proven model for bringing new talent and expertise into the teaching profession and are positioned to multiply our impact.

The rise of increasingly diversified pathways into teaching in some Australian states and territories shows the time is ripe for greater change. In fact, the nature of the contemporary workforce demands it – career trajectories no longer fall along straight lines. We should not unnecessarily shut out those who have worked in other professional spheres. On the contrary, we should welcome them in, for they too can have a life-changing impact on the lives of their students.

Read the submission

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