La Trobe University’s solution to Australia’s teacher shortage will benefit more regional schools this year as the successful Nexus teaching program prepares to expand into New South Wales.
Nexus first launched in 2020 as part of the Australian Government’s High Achieving Teachers Program, offering a first-of-its-kind pathway into secondary teaching that enables people to transition from other careers while gaining practical experience in a school setting.
The contribution of Nexus in hard-to-staff regional and rural schools had been further recognised by significant funding of $7.9 million by the Government in July 2023 to expand the innovative teaching training program into primary schools.
La Trobe Dean of Education Professor Joanna Barbousas said this expansion is an opportunity to address workforce shortages by attracting and retaining teachers.
“Our current Nexus program has been an extraordinary success in preparing teachers for employment in schools across Victoria,” Professor Barbousas said.
“Preparing teachers through evidence-informed approaches and gaining hands-on classroom experiences will set them up to make a difference in regional, rural and hard to staff schools.”
The Nexus program has been named as a finalist in the Shaping Australia Awards for the Future Builder Award, highlighting its significance and role in transforming the learning needs of all students.
Mr Noah Rawlings relocated from Geelong to Mildura’s Chaffey Secondary College in 2021 as part of the second cohort of Nexus students, where he has remained ever since.
The now graduate teacher said the program’s wrap-around support, secured employment and gaining first-hand experience while studying were major factors in applying for Nexus.
“Nexus was beneficial to forming the groundwork of my teaching career and my confidence and efficiency in the classroom has continued to grow, following my completion in 2022,” Mr Rawlings said.
More than 100 aspiring primary teachers will work across Victorian and New South Wales primary schools in 2024, while undertaking the Master of Teaching (Primary). In addition, they will receive support and tailored instruction to address the unique contextual teaching needs of their respective urban, regional or remote locations.
Tallangatta Secondary College in North East Victoria has participated in the Nexus program since its inception.
For the four students that have come through this school, Principal Richelle Moyle said Nexus has given them the confidence and awareness of what is typical of teaching in rural and regional areas.
“Nexus provides university students with the opportunity to gain an authentic and realistic understanding of what school is like, whether they enjoy teaching or if it is the right fit and this makes them more likely to stay, which is a huge asset to the school,” Ms Moyle said.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate for this program because I believe the students that come through the Nexus program, who’ve applied the theoretical components they’ve learned at university and into the classroom, come out well in front of a standard graduate.”
The Victorian cohort of Nexus primary participants commenced their studies in February, while the New South Wales cohort will begin in July.