National strategy with government backing required to make teaching attractive again: ACDE
All Australian political parties need to support a multi-pronged, collaborative, national strategy to improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession, according to the peak body of the university faculties and schools that educate future Australian teachers.
“To avoid a widening teacher shortage, we must address the continuing drop in the numbers of those applying to become teachers and also attract the best possible candidates into the profession,” the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) President Professor Tania Aspland has said.
“Ad hoc, unconnected, short-term efforts will not progress the issue enough. We need a much more collaborative strategy, which links longer-term actions.”
Established in 1991, the ACDE works to ensure that Australia produces high-quality teacher graduates, well equipped to work in a wide range of education related workplaces and occupations. To discuss the teacher shortage issue across the entire education sector, the Council recently convened the Collaborating to Improve the Status of Teachers Forum in Melbourne, which was attended by almost 200 representatives of political parties, media, governments, unions, peak education bodies, school leaders, teacher education students, teachers, youth advocates, think tank researchers, and branding, social and behaviour change experts.
“The diverse range of panellists, participants and views made it clear that there were many gaps in the education system to be targeted for improvement,” Professor Aspland said.
“These include encouraging more secondary school students and their influencers to consider teaching as a valuable career; teachers’ pay and career structures; greater support for early career teachers; ongoing professional development; lessening the administrative burden; and, trusting our dedicated teachers to teach,” she said.
Most forum participants indicated they wanted to be involved in future initiatives. From that starting point, ACDE proposes convening taskforces to focus on specific areas in need of change.
“However, if we are to make a collective impact over the next five to 10 years, there also needs to be an adequately resourced lean and agile backbone structure to tie a national strategy, that involves many organisations and diverse approaches, together,” Professor Aspland said.
“This would allow for linkage between individual initiatives, evaluation of ongoing impact, helping to adapt strategies to meet changing conditions, efficient use of resources and the sharing of knowledge and learning between all the moving parts of a national effort.
“With teachers, we are talking about the workforce that educates 100 per cent of Australia’s future. No one group can make the necessary changes alone. We must be in this together,” she says.
Key points, transcripts and the recording of sessions from the Melbourne forum can be viewed here.