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Attracting future teachers

The peak body of the university faculties and schools that educate future teachers, the Australian Council of Deans of Education, is calling on all political parties to support a multi-pronged, collaborative, national strategy to help attract future 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,” said Professor Tania Aspland, Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) President.

“Ad hoc, unconnected, short-term efforts will not progress the issue enough. We need a much more collaborative strategy, which links longer-term actions.’

On 29 March 2019, the ACDE convened the Collaborating to Improve the Status of Teachers Forum in Melbourne. The day 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 as well as branding, social and behaviour change experts.

According to Professor Aspland, “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.”

She said these areas 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.”

Many of the 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 says.

“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.”

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