Prioritise professional development to attract and retain staff - Education Matters Magazine
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Prioritise professional development to attract and retain staff

Deakin University’s suite of professional education courses are designed to nurture teaching talent. These courses can revitalise skills and provide opportunity to network and collaborate with educators on shared experiences.

Dr Joanne Henriksen, lecturer in education (Education Business Leadership) at Deakin University, explains the recruitment and retention challenges schools are facing and why postgraduate study and further professional development is key to retention.

Teaching workforce is an invaluable asset

“At this time of the year, principals and school staff are in the throes of the staffing jigsaw and looking ahead to 2024. They’re mapping out vacancies, recruiting new staff and examining how best to sustain their middle leaders and expert teachers,” Henriksen said.

“Schools are full of wonderful hardworking teachers. Current teacher quality is exceptionally high – unfortunately retaining staff can be difficult, even more so depending on the school’s location and subject specialisation.”

Maintain a strong workforce through growth and advancement

“Growing the talent that schools already have through further postgraduate study and professional development is an opportunity to sustain your workforce. Nobody understands the power of further education better than teachers,” Henriksen explains.

“Postgraduate courses give teachers an opportunity to step out of their routine and foster their interest and their talent.”

Every industry suffers attrition rates and teaching is no different. Teachers report feeling overworked, underpaid, struggling with student behaviour and burdened by administration tasks. The federal government has predicted a shortfall of more than 4,000 high school teachers by 2025.

‘Talented teaching staff carry experience and institutional knowledge. They cultivate strong relationships with the school community and create positive educational outcomes. Students and the school environment benefit exponentially from these effective, innovative, and excellent teachers. Now more than ever, schools need to retain and sustain talented and passionate educators,” Henriksen said.

Professional education courses tackle staff challenges

As you’d expect from the number one university in Australia, number five globally, for education and educational research*, Deakin’s postgraduate courses are distinctly innovative and strategic. They have been developed in collaboration with practising industry professionals with a focus on a range of transformative themes such as communication, sustainability, innovation and contemporary local and global issues.

There are ‘bite sized’ graduate certificate courses – aimed at teachers who are looking for transferrable skills, revitalisation in a particular area or want to upskill. For example, the Graduate Certificate of Education Business Leadership, Graduate Certificate of Specialist Inclusive Education and the Graduate Certificate of Education (Trauma-Responsive Education).

From learning to meet the needs of diverse learners, to becoming confident in education leadership to gaining the skills to create safe and trusting learning environments for all students, these courses centre on authentic tasks and experiential result-based learning.

Ms Hayley Dwyer, a classroom teacher and graduate of the Master of Specialist Inclusive Education explains why postgraduate study was the right choice for her.

“I was interested in postgraduate study as I have a strong desire to upskill and expand my knowledge, in order to improve as an educator. I also hoped it would provide me with an opportunity to take the next step in my career and take on a leadership role in supporting the diverse needs of students within a primary school context.”

Knowledge sharing for an innovative culture

Henriksen said Deakin’s courses allow for teachers to grow their professional network.

“You engage with people from vastly different backgrounds and professional experiences, sharing ideas and posing solutions for contemporary education issues and situated problems of practice. There is a collaborative approach with an emphasis on addressing issues and real problems that schools and teachers are grappling with,” she said.

Most graduate certificate courses contain units that can be recognised and transferred into master’s study. For example, for an educator looking to move into a leadership role, there is Deakin’s  Master of Education (Leadership and Learning). This course is designed to foster growth and development of qualified teachers and educators looking to develop and enhance their own leadership capabilities and in-turn grow the educational organisations they are a part of.

Invest in talent for a positive work environment

“Educators thrive in an environment that recognises their talent, encourages individual working styles and supports professional growth through learning opportunities. Teachers who undertake postgraduate study or further professional development make an investment in themselves, the development of their knowledge and critical thinking skills that they then bring that back to the school community,” explains Henriksen.

“The investment an educator makes in further study pays off immeasurably in school communities or education settings and most of all for student outcomes.”

Address short-term staffing needs: employment-based teaching degrees

An immediate opportunity for schools to address short-term staffing needs is to employ students enrolled in the Teach Today program while they complete their teaching degrees. Employment based pathways are a new way to bring people into the education system.

Deakin offers a Master of Applied Learning and Teaching (Secondary) (MALT). This Victorian Government funded initiative allows students to earn while they learn by working in a school while studying to become a secondary school teacher. Students work for up to three days a week.

Recruiting MALT students means generating school capacity in the immediacy and bringing teachers through your school. MALT students bring vast experience from previous careers and study to the role and often know their specialisation.

Find out more about Deakin’s professional educational courses.

* U.S. News & World Report, Best Global Universities Subject Rankings 2022–2023

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