VIT 2020/21 annual report shows a year of extraordinary achievements in the face of challenge
The Victorian Institute of Teaching’s (VIT) 2020/21 Annual Report tells the story of a year of extraordinary achievements in the face of ongoing challenges caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past two years have been challenging for the Victorian education system: handling COVID-19, re-engaging learners and recognising the extraordinary professional contribution of teachers in the face of unprecedented uncertainty,” a VIT spokesperson said.
Throughout the challenges, and as the report notes, the VIT has sought to support the education system and profession by providing “a point of certainty, of professional integrity, with a continual focus on improvement.”
“In addition to an overarching function to provide for the safety and wellbeing of children, we have been further supported by new legislation which embeds our role in teaching excellence. Through the delivery of our statutory functions, we have been consistently implementing our vision for all Victorian children and young people to have the best teachers,” the spokesperson added.
Early childhood teachers (ECT) make up 5 per cent of the 138,340 registered teachers in Victoria, which has Australia’s second largest cohort of teachers. 98 per cent of early childhood teachers identify as female, and more than half of all registered teachers are aged between 30 and 49 years of age.
During the reporting period, in recognition of the challenges faced by some registrants due to COVID-19 restrictions, the VIT made adjustments to professional practice and professional development obligations for registration renewal, and reduced professional placement requirements for pre-service teachers.
Complaints about teacher conduct
Consistent with previous reporting periods, the VIT received a high number of notifications and complaints relating to teacher conduct in 2020/21. This is particularly since the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the introduction of the Reportable Conduct Scheme.
To address this continuing trend, the VIT has committed additional resources to the Conduct and Compliance Branch. All new notifications and complaints are triaged to identify and prioritise matters according to the level of risk the teacher’s alleged conduct poses to the safety and wellbeing of children. Each inquiry into teacher misconduct involves a large amount of engagement with teachers, employers, families, law enforcement agencies and co-regulators.
The VIT received 2,232 new notifications or complaints (an increase from 419 in the previous period). Of these:
- 41 resulted in a suspension of the teacher’s registration because they posed an unacceptable risk of harm to children, the issue of an Interim Working with Children Exclusion, or the charge of a Category A offence;
- 16 teachers had their registration cancelled due to findings of guilt for Category A offences or because they had been issued with a Working with Children Exclusion;
- 42 of the notifications that were resolved resulted in the imposition of conditions on the teacher’s registration; and,
- 20 resulted in the refusal of the teacher’s application to renew their registration.
Following amendments to VIT’s legislation in 2019, the Education Legislation Amendment Suitability Reassessment Project was established to consider the criminal histories of 5,220 teachers and determine whether reassessment against the Working with Children Act 2005 was required. As part of the project (which will conclude in October 2021), VIT will have reassessed 1,843 criminal histories.
As at June 2021, VIT was assessing and investigating 1,055 matters that originated from notifications and complaints concerning teacher conduct.
The revised Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct was circulated at the start of term 2, 2021 and came into effect on the first day of term 3, 2021.
The Act was amended to clarify VIT’s powers to accredit initial teacher education programs and introduced new powers to endorse ‘pathway’ programs and continuing professional development programs. The amending Act also improved VIT’s information sharing powers. The Minister’s general powers were also amended to allow the issuing of policies, guidelines and directions to the VIT.
To read the annual report in full please see here.
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