National Report on Schooling in Australia 2010

National initiatives and achievements

2.2 Supporting quality teaching and school leadership

Australian governments are committed to working with all school sectors to attract, develop, support and retain a high-quality teaching and school leadership workforce in Australian schools (Melbourne Declaration, 2008).

Among the key strategies agreed by Education Ministers for this commitment are the creation of new professional standards, a framework to guide professional learning for teachers and school leaders, and national consistency in the registration of teachers. Improved pay dispersion to reward quality teaching, improved structures to support teachers in disadvantaged Indigenous, rural/remote and hard-to-staff schools and national accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses are other agreed strategies.

This commitment is aligned with the policy and reform directions outlined in the National Education Agreement (NEA) which will contribute to achieving the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) targets for schooling in Australia.

National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality

Through COAG, Australian governments have agreed to a five-year National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality. The partnership will run from January 2009 to December 2013 and is designed to drive systemic reforms to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in Australian schools. It aims to deliver system-wide reforms targeting critical points in the teacher 'life cycle' to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in schools.

The National Partnership Agreement states that it will contribute to the following outcomes:
  • attracting the best entrants to teaching, including mid-career entrants

  • more effectively training principals, teachers and school leaders for their roles and the school environment

  • placing teachers and principals to minimise skill shortages and enhance retention

  • developing teachers and school leaders to enhance their skills and knowledge throughout their careers

  • retaining and rewarding quality principals, teachers and school leaders

  • improving the quality and availability of teacher workforce data.

COAG has also agreed to the development and implementation of a national professional teacher standards framework and an accreditation process for accomplished and leading teachers. This reform is a compulsory element of the national partnership.
Commonwealth funding for this National Partnership is $550 million over five years. Of this funding, $50 million is allocated to professional development and support to enable principals to better manage their schools and achieve improved student results.
Commonwealth reform in regard to the Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership includes allocating funding under the National Partnership, funding an interim evaluation of the partnership and agreeing to complementary activities to support the National Partnership. States and Territories have set out their strategies and actions under their own implementation plans.
Individual States and Territories have implemented a range of initiatives including the establishment of Centres of Excellence, expanding traditional pathways into teaching, trialling rewarding excellence with pay and piloting programs that enhance school-based decision-making.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

In September 2009 MCEECDYA agreed to establish the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) to provide national leadership for Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership. AITSL commenced operations on 1 January 2010.
The Institute's role is to:
  • develop and maintain rigorous national professional standards for teachers and school leadership

  • implement an agreed system of national accreditation of teachers based on these standards

  • foster and drive high quality professional development for teachers and school leaders through professional standards, professional learning and a national approach to the accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses

  • undertake and engage with international research and innovative developments in best practice

  • administer annual national awards for teachers and school leaders

  • work collaboratively with government and non-government school systems, key stakeholders including professional associations and education unions, teacher educators, business and school communities, and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) and Education Services Australia (ESA)

  • fulfil the role of assessing authority under the Migration Regulations 1994 for the purposes of skilled migration to Australia as a pre-primary, primary or secondary school teacher.

AITSL is funded by the Australian Government. Over the four years from 2009–10 to 2012–13 AITSL will receive around $42 million from the national component of the National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality and from the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program.

National Professional Standards for Teachers

The National Professional Standards for Teachers were endorsed by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) in December 2010.

The standards promote excellence in teaching and provide a nationally consistent basis for recognising quality teaching. They make explicit what teachers should know, be able to do and what is expected of effective teachers across their career.
The standards are organised into four career stages (Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead) across three domains (professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement) and guide the preparation, support and development of teachers. The stages reflect the continuum of a teacher's developing professional expertise from undergraduate preparation through to being an exemplary classroom practitioner and a leader in the profession.

The standards support the commitment in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and align with the reforms included in the National Partnership on Improving Teacher Quality.

More information is available on the AITSL website.

Australian Government Quality Teacher Program

The Australian Government Quality Teacher Program (AGQTP), administered by DEEWR, enables non-government education authorities to run a variety of projects and activities that offer ongoing professional learning for teachers and school leaders. The AGQTP objectives complement the reforms of the Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership. The AGQTP has existed since 2000 but, from January 2010, the component of AGQTP funding for the government sector was rolled into the National Education Agreement. Funding for the non-government sector continues to flow directly to State and Territory non-government education authorities. Total funding for the program for calendar year 2010 is $6.6 million. Projects ran from January to December 2010.
The objectives of the AGQTP are to:
  • equip teachers with the skills and knowledge needed for teaching in the 21st century

  • provide national leadership in high priority areas of teacher professional learning need

  • improve the professional standing of school teachers and leaders.

All non-government education authority projects are delivered under funding agreements with State and Territory Catholic and independent education authorities.