Standardisation of pre-service teacher supervision
Supervising pre-service teachers can place additional administrative and workload responsibilities on teachers, making them reluctant to take on a mentoring role.
A new project developed to provide greater consistency across initial teacher education programs to benefit both pre-service teachers and their supervisors in schools offers a chance to standardise expectations and requirements, however, without an accompanying industrial framework, the underlying problems will remain unresolved.
- Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) and Learning Sciences Institute Australia’s Graduate Teacher Performance Assessment (GTPA) Pilot Project to enable pre-service teachers to demonstrate their ability to fully engage with the cycle of teaching practice.
- Work of mentoring teachers must be valued with industrial provisions.
- Time release, realistic teaching loads and class allocations essential for both mentors and beginning teachers.
The objective of the project is to enable pre-service teachers, in their final professional experience, to demonstrate their ability to fully engage with the cycle of teaching practice, incorporating planning, teaching, assessing and reflecting.
While it aligns with existing state-based practices and partnerships between universities, teachers, employers and other education stakeholders, it also provides an opportunity for a consistent and common approach to national accreditation requirements.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles said our union is generally supportive of any initiative that aims to provide greater consistency across initial teacher education programs and sees considerable merit in the project.
However, any framework within which pre-service teacher education is conducted must also value the work of mentoring teachers by providing adequate and appropriate industrial provisions that align with the substantial workload involved in supervision of pre-service teachers.
“Unless and until supervision of pre-service teachers not only counts toward hours of professional development, but is acknowledged as a valid, and valued, element of contemporary practice, those external to the profession cannot maintain their claim that practicum supervision is recognised as a key professional activity,” Mr Giles said.
Restoring the balance and recognising the professional contribution made by mentoring teachers requires employers to commit to the provision of:
- Time release for both mentors and beginning teachers;
- Realistic teaching loads and class allocations;
- Regular monitoring meetings;
- Physical proximity of the mentor and beginning teachers;
- Alignment of teaching areas of the mentor and beginning teaching; and
- Administrative support.
Our union has successfully achieved enhanced remuneration and time release for mentoring teachers in a number of recently negotiated collective bargaining agreements. The current Lutheran Enterprise Bargaining Agreement allows for experienced teachers to apply for Leading Teacher 2 classification, which includes a payment for those who commit to mentoring duties.
In addition, as state and federal governments continue to place greater emphasis on the importance of quality teaching and learning through professional training and development, the question of how to appropriately and meaningfully recognise and reward experienced teachers who take leading roles in broader professional activities is consistently overlooked.
Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the vital role played by supervising teachers, payment remains linked to the Australian Higher Education Practice Teaching Supervision Award 1990. This agreement sets the basic rate of payment at just $21.20 per day and was terminated by Fair Work Australia in 2011. However, most universities continue to pay around, or slightly above, the rate nominated by that award. Our union, along with the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory branch of the IEUA, have agitated for an increase in payment.
IEUA-QNT offers training for teachers who decide to take on the mentoring teacher role. As well as detailing the key structural and ideological elements of quality programs, the training covers specific techniques and skills that can be used to build constructive professional relationships with mentees, school administrators and teacher training institutions. For further information, contact IEUA-QNT at email@example.com or FREECALL 1800 177 938.
More information on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Assessment of Pre-service Teachers can be found here. For more on the professional experience reporting framework follow this link.
This Project comes after the federal government established the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) in 2014, setting them the task of recommending changes to initial teacher education focussing on:
- Stronger quality assurance of teacher education courses;
- Rigorous selection for entry to teacher education courses;
- Improved and structured practical experience for teacher education students;
- Robust assessment of graduates to ensure classroom readiness;
- National research and workforce planning capabilities.
TEMAG delivered a report containing 38 recommendations in 2015. The then federal government accepted most of these recommendations, which are now being translated into action by several key bodies.
Although the requirement for greater consistency and authenticity is national, it is important that universities, teacher registration bodies and other stakeholders continue to develop and implement their own methods, such as the GTPA, for achieving more relevant and consistent assessment of classroom readiness.