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  Review of Teacher Education in NSW - Terms of reference  
 

3.  Recommendations

A professional structure for teachers

A detailed analysis of other professions was undertaken for the Review. The study looked at how they are organised: specifically, how they go about fulfilling their obligations to those they serve and more generally to the wider society. There are clear implications for teaching. Teachers receive academically at least the equivalent level of training as do most other professions. They have one of the most responsible jobs in the community, the education of our next generations. The level of skill required to teach effectively is very substantial.

A single body, to represent the teaching profession, governed by a council of experienced teachers, should be established. This body, the Institute of Teachers, would have responsibility to set standards of professional practice. The Institute would enable the profession to address an important question: what are the knowledge and skills teachers need to be effective in the important work they do?  In answering that question, the Institute should lead the profession in developing standards of professional practice in teaching. Once professional teaching standards are established, teachers will be able to seek accreditation against these standards. The Institute will need to establish processes for dealing with complaints of professional incompetence or malpractice, leading to disaccreditation, consistent with other professional bodies. The awards of the Institute of Teachers should be of high status: a badge worn with pride.

The Institute should work with universities to develop standards for initial teacher education, including the standards for the professional experience component of courses. Standards for initial teacher education programs will enable the universities to certify that graduates have the essential knowledge and skills to enter the profession.

The Institute should also attest to the quality of professional development programs for experienced teachers. This will assist teachers make well informed choices about learning how to be better teachers.

It is apparent that business and industry have much to gain from enhancing the quality of teaching. High standard teaching prepares a better skilled and more knowledgeable workforce. It was private sector support which made possible initiatives in the United States to improve teacher quality. The most important of the professional bodies set up in the United States is the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The National Board has done major work on setting standards and accrediting teachers for the quality of their work. There is a place for major businesses and industries as important partners in developing and maintaining a quality system of teacher education in New South Wales.

A focus on high standards that support and extend teacher development is needed rather than basic requirements which simply give a person the right to teach. Voluntary systems similar to the one proposed can be found in other professions.

A voluntary system which accredits standards of professional practice will mean that the individual teacher has a choice about the standards they aspire to reach. It will enable our very best teachers to be recognised and rewarded for the excellent work they do. Three stages of individual teacher accreditation are proposed:

  • initial competence
  • expertise in specialised areas
  • ability in educational leadership.  

In contemporary society it is unacceptable that teachers be paid more, simply by accumulating years of experience.  Teachers need also to be able to demonstrate that they have continued to develop towards higher standards of teaching. Nor is it acceptable that employers of teachers require them to undertake further development without recognising their achievements.

The position which employers take in relation to a voluntary system of teacher accreditation will be critical to professionalising teaching. Employers, in salary negotiations with unions, should align teacher remuneration with the proposed system of professional recognition.  An alternative for teachers already at or near the top of the salary scale could be the payment of a bonus for meeting accreditation standards. These practices are becoming common overseas. In the United States, teachers accredited by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards receive either additional salary increments or a bonus. In England, teachers can only progress to the upper level of the salary scales if they demonstrate high standards of professional practice. All employers in New South Wales need to recognise and reward higher standards of professional performance by teachers.

Any credible system of teacher accreditation must include a capacity to disaccredit those who fail to maintain professional standards and ethics. However, disaccreditation by the Institute need not necessarily mean loss of employment but could, for instance, involve more active supervision of and support for the teacher.

Teachers who seek leadership positions in schools should be expected by employers to have the highest level of professional accreditation offered by the proposed Institute of Teachers.

Recommendation 1

That the New South Wales Government establish an Institute of Teachers whose primary purpose is to enhance the level of professionalism of teachers and teaching. The Institute to be responsible for:

  • the establishment and promulgation of performance standards at designated stages of development as a teacher, together with standards of ethical practice for teachers
  • the accreditation and disaccreditation of teachers against such performance and ethical standards, determining related requirements for maintaining and extending or removing such accreditation, and establishing and maintaining records of teachers so accredited
  • endorsing and disendorsing courses and programs of teacher education, both initial and continuing
  • accrediting those schools and other institutions involved in the provision of professional experience in initial and continuing teacher education
  • advising universities on ways to strengthen postgraduate programs and research in pedagogy and teacher education
  • advising the Government and the community on issues relating to teacher quality and professional standards, and on the qualifications, profile and experience of teachers employed throughout the State
  • promoting the position and standing of the profession on professional matters
  • communicating on professional issues among members determining, in cooperation with the Government and in discussion with parties involved in the profession, the fees and other means of providing the resources to be applied in fulfilling its responsibilities
  • advising on areas where research is needed, particularly in pedagogy to advance the skill level of teachers in the State.  

Recommendation 2

That in the development of professional teaching standards the Institute of Teachers

  • establish, articulate and promulgate a clear purpose for such standards
  • establish effective processes for the development, validation and assessment of such standards based on appropriate models of teacher development
  • make the standards simple, transparent and easily accessible to all teachers
  • consult widely to ensure ownership of and commitment to such standards by teachers
  • determine requirements for teachers to maintain their accreditation or to be disaccredited if they do not fulfil the required performance and ethical standards.

 Recommendation 3

That the standards established by the Institute of Teachers be the basis for a staged accreditation system for practising teachers at three levels:

- professional competence (Accredited Practising Teacher 1)
- professional specialisation (Accredited Practising Teacher 2)
- professional leadership (Accredited Practising Teacher 3). 

Standards for initial teacher education

Many submissions advised the Review to recommend the establishment of a body external to the universities and employers with responsibility to assess and endorse programs of initial teacher education. At present, there are few, if any, guarantees about how well our future teachers are being prepared. These guarantees need to be available.  We must focus on the effectiveness of initial teacher education programs in producing graduates with the essential knowledge and skills to be good teachers. How the courses are organised should be for the universities to decide. They need not all be the same. What matters is the quality of the end product: a teacher prepared as a professional person, ready for their important work.

The proposed Institute of Teachers should be responsible for working with universities, employers and the profession to set standards for initial teacher education. The Institute should also have responsibility for assessing whether the universities are meeting these standards. Once the teacher education program has been endorsed, the university should be required to certify that each graduate of the program has the essential knowledge and skills to enter the teaching profession. This represents a shift in focus from certifying standards of academic achievement to certifying standards of professional practice. Endorsement of initial teacher education programs should also give consideration to:

  • the level of commitment in the university to teacher education
  • the extent to which programs involve a partnership between the university and schools or other educational settings
  • the quality of the professional experience in schools or other teaching settings provided in the program.  

Recommendation 4

That the Institute of Teachers

  • establish standards and processes for the endorsement of programs of initial teacher education to prepare teachers for New South Wales schools, setting out the outcomes expected of graduates in subject content, pedagogy and ethics
  • establish standards for the provision of the professional experience component of initial teacher education, including standards for the supervision and mentoring of student teachers
  • in the assessment process, take account of the priority given by the university to teacher education
  • develop processes and criteria for reporting on the employment and professional outcomes of graduates from courses of teacher education in New South Wales and elsewhere
  • develop criteria for certifying and recording individual student completions of endorsed programs.  

Standards for continuing teacher education

In general, more professional development provision needs to be related directly to improving the quality of teacher practice. Much of the professional development offered is designed to meet the needs of systems or schools, not necessarily those which teachers would regard as their professional priorities. There must be a greater focus in continuing teacher education on individual, rather than collective, improvement.

In the absence of any recognition system, some professional development course providers seek accreditation from the Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board (VETAB).

This is of concern in teacher education, because VETAB focuses on essential competence rather than standards at the upper level of performance. No guarantee can be given therefore that the professional development program will be sufficiently challenging to lead to better teaching.  There needs to be a system which attests to the quality of professional development programs available to experienced teachers, no matter who offers them. Teachers want guarantees about the quality of further learning opportunities made available to them. Their profession should provide these guarantees.

The proposed Institute of Teachers should have a role in the endorsement of continuing teacher education programs to ensure their quality and relevance to the learning of teachers. This will assist professional development providers better to meet the changing needs of teachers.  Institute endorsement of programs will also assist individual teachers, schools and other educational settings better to plan further professional learning.

Recommendation 5

That the Institute of Teachers establish processes and procedures for the endorsement of programs of continuing teacher education, consistent with the stages of the accreditation system for individual teachers.

Accreditation of schools

Schools are the most important places for promoting the quality of teaching in classrooms, both for student teachers and for experienced teachers. At present, schools contribute to teacher preparation through the provision of opportunities for student teachers to undertake a practicum. This practicum model must change to a professional experience model which places significant workplace learning as the central feature of the preparation of student teachers. We need to be sure that what is offered to student teachers in schools and other educational settings as well as in universities is professionally relevant and of the highest quality. Those schools in which student teachers undertake the professional experience component of teacher education programs must be accredited.

Accreditation of schools for this purpose should not be confused with the current responsibility which the Board of Studies has for the registration of non-government schools. The Board’s concern is that the input requirements for delivering the curriculum are met. Its responsibilities mean that the Board of Studies is not so concerned with the quality of teaching. Arguments for and against the compulsory accreditation of all schools, government and non-government, were considered. The proposed Institute of Teachers would be well placed to advise the Government on the professional merits of such a proposal.  The Institute must give priority to working with universities to develop procedures for the accreditation of schools offering professional experience for student teachers.

Recommendation 6

That the New South Wales Government require the Institute of Teachers to:

  • work with universities and relevant school systems to develop jointly criteria, processes and procedures for the accreditation of those schools providing professional experience for student teachers
  • advise on the possible merit of, and options for, the eventual accreditation of all schools where quality educational practices can be certified
  • maintain jointly with the universities a registry of accredited schools.

Australian Graduate School of Teaching

The evidence indicates that, in general, little importance is attached, particularly by a large proportion of teachers in schools, to postgraduate study or education in teaching beyond initial training. There are several reasons for this low priority.

Too often teaching has become disconnected from the world of higher learning and further studies. The efforts and accomplishments of those who undertake further learning are generally not valued or recognised in teaching, especially by employers. The requirement for teachers to pay directly or through the Higher Education Contribution Scheme for postgraduate study has acted as a significant disincentive, especially where teachers identify the courses as failing to meet professional needs

An initiative to establish a graduate school of teaching in New South Wales is proposed. The school would raise significantly the profile of graduate teacher education. It would focus especially on designing and delivering high quality and academically challenging courses to meet professional needs and be known as the Australian Graduate School of Teaching (AGST).  It would fulfil a function similar to that of graduate schools of business or management in the world of commerce and industry. The School’s proposed national profile is an important consideration, given the potential of such an institution to market postgraduate teacher education in Australia and internationally.

There are overseas precedents for a graduate school in education. The Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, the London Institute of Education, a graduate-only university with a strong research base.  Ideally, the Australian Graduate School of Teaching should attract the support of business and industry interested in the quality of teacher education and teaching.  The establishment of an Australian Graduate School of Teaching could make the State a world centre for postgraduate education and research in teaching. The support of the Commonwealth Government is essential, but the proposition should be attractive to all involved on effectiveness and efficiency grounds.  . 

Recommendation 7

That a taskforce be formed to provide advice to the Government on the structures, partnerships and resources required to establish an Australian Graduate School of Teaching in New South Wales. The taskforce should include nominees of the Institute of Teachers employers of teachers and vice-chancellors of universities interested in the proposal. 

Supplying quality teachers

In advice to the Review, comment was made across all groups on the inadequacy of present funding arrangements for teacher education. New funding arrangements are needed to refocus provision on the quality of teacher education.  At present, the Commonwealth Government has funding responsibility for the supply of teachers but the State Government, as a major employer and responsible for education in New South Wales, has no effective say in how these teachers are prepared. This situation needs to be resolved.  The State would be well served by a mixed system which provides for both government and non-government schools and is able to apply effectively both Commonwealth and State resources to prepare teachers for all schools. Such an approach will require representatives of the State Government, the Commonwealth Government, employers and universities to determine the most effective mechanism for ensuring that quality teachers meeting approved standards are available for schools. The present arrangements lack a focus on total State requirements and mean that the universities cannot be fully effective in meeting employer needs.

The State, on behalf of all employers, should determine its total requirements for both initial and continuing teacher education within available resources. The State should pilot processes for providers to tender to undertake the task required. The tender documentation should specify innovative approaches to ensure both quality and quantity requirements in terms of teachers in areas of specific need who are trained at the highest possible standard. Such tenders should operate for up to five years to encourage providers to apply the appropriate resources in a dedicated and ongoing way, but not for so long that they can become complacent.

A Joint Committee for managing the resourcing of teacher education and advising on needs should be formed. The Committee would have responsibility to establish processes for contracting the provision of teacher education. It should involve State and Commonwealth representatives, employers, the universities and the proposed Institute of Teachers.  The Committee’s functions would be to determine State needs, prepare tender documentation to address these needs, determine where funding should be applied and advise more generally on teacher education.

Recommendation 8

That a Joint Committee on Teacher Supply be established representing the New South Wales Government, the Commonwealth Government, the employers, the universities and the Institute of Teachers to:

  • develop improved funding arrangements for teacher education in New South Wales
  • advise the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government on the most appropriate allocation of government resources to ensure the adequate supply of quality teachers in the State.  

Recommendation 9

That the Joint Committee on Teacher Supply, in consultation with the Institute of Teachers and employers:

  • determine the mechanism whereby the State’s requirements for the supply of quality teachers can be submitted to open tender from potential providers of teacher education courses
  • institute a range of scholarships and paid training opportunities to attract talented young people to teaching, aimed at supporting those teaching subjects and teaching localities where supply problems are apparent
  • seek advice from the universities on the design of specific courses for scholarship holders.

There is strong consensus that the quality and relevance of teaching in schools will be improved by attracting into the profession a wider diversity of people. We need the greatest possible mix of teachers in terms of backgrounds, knowledge, skills and employment experiences. Teaching needs to be part of an open and flexible labour market.  Too many present practices appear to act as disincentives for people to consider a career change into teaching or to re-enter teaching.  

The need for flexible entry pathways exists at all levels of teaching, beginning in the primary years. In the secondary years, flexible entry pathways are as important to the traditional subject areas as they are to the growing vocational education and training (VET) subjects. No matter how people are prepared to be teachers, the focus must be on the professional experience which student teachers have in the workplace. Professional experience in programs of initial teacher education must be planned, well supervised and valued by employers.  

Recommendation 10

That the Joint Committee on Teacher Supply work with universities, employers, the TAFE system and the Institute of Teachers to increase the diversity of pathways for entry into teaching, giving priority to strategies which emphasise high quality professional experience in the workplace.

In relation to projecting teacher supply and demand, two initiatives were noted. The first is that of the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE). The second is that of the working party of the Conference of Education System Chief Executive Officers (CESCEO). The respective projections are not consistent and require a collaborative resolution. Effective planning to prepare sufficient numbers of quality teachers can only begin when all parties agree on what are the basic principles to establish the need for quality teachers.

The evidence indicates that substantial collaborative work involving university vice-chancellors, advised by their deans of education, and government and non-government school authorities is required. This work should refine the assumptions underlying the ACDE model so that teacher supply and demand can be more accurately projected. The aim of this work should be to provide the basis for consistent planning at national and state levels.

Recommendation 11

That the New South Wales Government present the case for the current Taskforce on Teacher Preparation and Recruitment, established by the Council of Ministers (MCEETYA), to be replaced by a working group acting for governments, employers and universities to establish an agreed basis for the development of medium and long-term projections of national teacher supply and demand.

Greater priority needs to be given to issues of quality in the supply of teachers. This includes ensuring that quality is not sacrificed when there is a shortage of teachers. As noted previously, use by the Department of Education and Training of waiting lists is inconsistent with quality practices in teacher selection. Priority in teacher appointment must be given to quality to make the best match of available teacher to the particular school and vacancy. The teacher’s position on a waiting list cannot do this. The emphasis should be on recruitment strategies which focus on the quality of available teachers. Use of the lists as a planning tool over-states the level of supply as not all teachers listed will be available for appointment. There is no obligation for those on the waiting lists to inform the Department when they are no longer interested in employment.

Waiting lists adversely influence students during initial teacher education. Knowing they will get a job by waiting long enough militates against student teachers striving to perform at the highest possible level in their course.  Waiting lists promote a culture of getting through, not aspiring to excellence.

Projected retirement rates in teaching over the next fifteen years will provide the opportunity for all employers to improve the quality of educational leadership in schools and other educational settings. High quality educational leaders will be in increasing demand and succession planning to develop effective leaders is becoming critical in teaching. Because, in general, the Department of Education and Training only appoints teachers currently employed by it to educational leadership positions, the Department is not able to compete on an equal basis with non-government schools in attracting the widest possible pool of leadership talent. 

Recommendation 12

That the New South Wales Department of Education and Training:

  • abolish the waiting lists of people wishing to be employed
  • develop and implement a policy which selects the best available applicant for any vacancy at the time
  • differentiate between applicants for appointment to particular positions on the basis of qualifications and experience and the extent to which they match the requirements of the position
  • give increased priority to:

     - succession planning

     - the open national advertising of educational leadership positions.  

It is clear that provisions of the Teaching Services Act 1980 would preclude the implementation of that part of Recommendation 12 relating to ‘…the open national advertisement of educational leadership positions’. In its present form the Act provides for appointments to promotions positions in government schools to be made from those who are already permanently employed in the system. The Government should review the Act with a view to amending its provisions so that priority can be given in the government system to the recruitment and appointment of teachers on the basis of quality, not the fact that they are already employed in a government school.

Recommendation 13

That the Teaching Services Act 1980 be reviewed by the Government with a view to amending those provisions affecting the employment of teachers by the Department of Education and Training to:

  • enable the recommendations of this Review to be implemented effectively
  • bring the Act up-to-date
  • allow for reasonable change without requiring further amendment.  

Teacher induction

Induction should represent an opportunity to build on initial preparation and to support the transition of the beginning teacher into their professional life.

Employers and the profession have a responsibility to provide high quality induction experiences. Beginning teachers have a right to expect them.

What happens in the induction of a beginning teacher is important in shaping the quality of their future performance. The induction period is a major test of the extent to which employers, school leaders and the profession are committed to the quality of teaching in schools. High quality induction is an indicator of a strong profession and an effective school. The evidence is clear that there needs to be a major refocusing on teacher induction. It must be seen as a highly important professional activity, giving all teachers the best possible beginning to their careers.

Universities and employers have to define their respective responsibilities in initial teacher education and induction.  At present neither is clear about these responsibilities.  Assumptions are made about the knowledge and skills of beginning teachers which are not necessarily accurate. In addition, the specialised role which the TAFE system could have needs to be recognised.

In general, employers must exercise greater responsibility for the induction of their beginning teachers. Induction has to be more than familiarisation with the policies and practices of the school. More substantial induction programs focusing on pedagogy need to be introduced.  The role of experienced teachers in induction programs is critical. A system of teacher accreditation will enable experienced teachers and educational leaders to be recognised for the specialised skills they have in inducting new teachers into the profession.

Recommendation 14

That the Institute of Teachers coordinate consultation among universities, the TAFE system and employers to:

  • define their respective responsibilities in the induction of teachers
  • expand, as a priority, current professional development initiatives which equip educational leaders and mentors with the knowledge and skills to fulfil their roles in the induction of new members
  • allow new teachers after a period of satisfactory performance to be accredited at Level 1 in the system of teacher accreditation.  

Information technology

We live in an age where skills in information technology are essential. Computers must be as relevant to teaching as they are to other aspects of life. Information technology must be seen as part of the broad repertoire of tools which effective teachers use.

No classroom should be turned into an impersonal environment dominated by computers. The focus in universities and schools must be on quality teaching and on how relevant technology can contribute to better learning.

From the evidence, priority must be given to preparing and supporting teachers to integrate technology into their teaching. Approaches which treat computers and other technologies as largely separate from classroom teaching have limited potential. Using technology as an add-on will do little to improve student learning or prepare them for the transition to work.

A new approach is needed to encourage greater and more effective use of information technology. Teachers should be encouraged to see learning about computers as a professional responsibility.

Through a structured process of accreditation, the profession will be able to recognise teachers with advanced information and communication technology skills.

A process in which teachers are able to undertake courses about information technology relevant to their professional needs, and be accredited for their learning, is likely to be a more effective approach than relying only on courses offered by employers. At the same time, employers must explore ways in which teachers who gain higher technology standards are rewarded. New systems are needed so that their skills can be used to improve teaching at the local level.

Recommendation 15

That the Institute of Teachers establish professional standards for advanced accreditation in digital information and communications technology to:

  • increase the knowledge and skill base of the profession in information and communications technology
  • enable teachers to demonstrate that they have achieved advanced standards in information and communications technology
  • strengthen interaction between professional development in information and communications technology and pedagogy at the classroom level.  

Behaviour management

Behaviour management is an area in which the complexity of changes in society in recent years has proven too great for current models of teacher education.

The evidence indicates that a major weakness in approaches to teacher preparation is that learning about behaviour management is not well connected with the life of schools and the professional practice of teachers.

This is not an argument against the teaching of behaviour management theory in initial teacher education. In fact, if student teachers are more fully involved in schools, behaviour management theory becomes even more important because it has to be relevant and up-to-date.

Not enough use is made in teacher education of experienced teachers who often have excellent skills in managing student behaviour. They should be able to seek accreditation for their knowledge and expertise. They must have an important role in guiding and teaching the student teachers based in their schools.

Teachers should also be recognised for specialist skills in important areas such as drug education or teaching students with behaviour disorders, in both schools and special education units.

Recommendation 16

That the Institute of Teachers establish professional standards for advanced accreditation in behaviour management to:

  • increase the knowledge and skill base of the profession in the management of student behaviour and the creation of positive learning environments
  • enable teachers to demonstrate that they have achieved advanced standards in behaviour management, including specific areas such as the management of students with behaviour disorders and drug education.  

Evaluation

The policy directions and recommendations arising from this Review have ramifications in many areas of education.  Responsibility for their implementation will be widely based, resting with Government and with a number of jurisdictions. Of necessity, responding to this Review will be a picture of transformation and reform on many fronts. Building in a capacity for the processes of change to be monitored will be important, so that priority continues to be given to the directions which must be addressed and met.

If the major thrust of the recommendations of this Review are accepted by the Government, it will be important that their implementation be evaluated. In about 2005, there should be a subsequent review of progress, focused specifically on the extent to which the teacher education institutions are meeting the needs of the employers in the supply of quality teachers and the extent to which policies have been implemented which are contributing to the revitalisation of the profession.

Recommendation 17

That the Government:

  • establish a process to monitor and report on the implementation of the Review’s directions
  • in five years time establish a subsequent review to determine the extent to which the quality of provision of initial and continuing teacher education has improved to meet the needs of the employers and of the profession. 

Level 3, Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
GPO Box 33, Sydney, NSW 2001
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email: teachrev@det.nsw.edu.au