Supporting students’ futures:

New online PD from Newcastle University

What did you aspire to be when you were young? What do your students want to do when they leave school?

Unpacking these questions and more is a new, free, registered online professional development course, designed to support teachers and school leaders in understanding and nurturing students’ career and educational aspirations.

The rigorous research underpinning the course, Aspirations: Supporting Students’ Futures, has shown just how important schools and teachers are in supporting the futures of our students.
Following an Australia wide trial, a resounding 94% of participants are planning to incorporate their new knowledge in their teaching.

Commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education, the course was developed by researchers from the University of Newcastle and La Trobe University.

It brings together important information from a significant body of research investigating student aspirations (across Years 3-12), as part of the Aspirations Longitudinal Study and related studies (2012-2018), led by Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Director of the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre at the University of Newcastle.

The course is relevant to teachers across all year levels and in all states and territories. It comprises a suite of digital resources, videos, interactive activities, data, and links to reading and further information, in an online, self-paced environment.

Teachers participating in the course have the opportunity to:

  • learn key concepts for talking about aspirations with students, parents/carers, and colleagues
  • explore why understanding aspirations is important
  • examine trends in aspirations for different educational and career pathways
  • explore key factors that influence aspirations (including academic achievement, gender, socio economic status, Aboriginality and location), and
  • consider the powerful role of schools and teachers in shaping and nurturing students’ futures.

Lead researcher Laureate Professor Jenny Gore said the research has shown that aspirations begin to form from the early years of schooling.

“Our research produced some surprising results and really emphasises the importance of schools and teachers,” Gore said.

“This course can really help teachers in understanding and nurturing their students’ aspirations.”
The course has been trialled and evaluated by teachers in all sectors and all states and territories. It was strongly endorsed, with teachers reporting impact on their knowledge and beliefs, attitudes and dispositions:

94% plan to incorporate what they have learned into their teaching

  • 90% have an increased understanding of strategies to support students’ aspirations
  • 88% believe insights from the course should be incorporated into their school plan; and
  • 90% recommend the course as valuable professional development for teachers at their school.

Teachers involved in the trial commented:

“It has opened up a world of research and ideas and changed the way I interact, teach, and support my students and their families.” (Cody)

“Fantastic! Really emphasises the important role that teachers play in shaping the aspirations of all students.” (David)

So positive! As a teacher you can forget how important your role is in shaping the next generation.” (Felicity)

For teachers in NSW the course is NESA registered for 10 hours of professional development at the Proficient level. For those in the ACT, it is TQI accredited for 10 hours of professional learning.

To enrol in the course, visit