IEU SPEAKS: on initial teacher training

The IEU welcomed the opportunity to participate in the recent review of initial teacher education (ITE) undertaken by the Teacher Education Expert Panel (TEEP).

The insights and classroom experiences of members helped shape new measures proposed by the panel to better prepare early career teachers; however, the focus must also include a comprehensive plan to continue to support new teachers once they reach the classroom.

The Panel’s report contains 14 recommendations for improving ITE programs. The recommendations, now agreed in-principle by the nation’s education ministers, contain a mix of immediate actions as well as longer term reforms to be rolled out over the next three years.

IEU members support the call for greater national consistency across ITE programs and the stronger oversight of education courses to ensure high-quality programs and outcomes for new teachers.

The next generation of teachers must be fully prepared for the vital work they will undertake in schools. A renewed focus on the practical skills needed by classroom teachers will help improve teacher retention and lengthen teaching careers.

Moves to incorporate new employment-based options or accelerated pathways to teaching qualifications must be carefully managed to protect the integrity and rigour of teacher education.

However, these changes are only half the story when it comes to attracting and retaining teachers. An education system that sends new teachers into classrooms to then immediately be overwhelmed by unsustainable workloads needs a complete overhaul.

We know that teacher workload and burnout are driving teachers away from a job they love.

New teachers need more support once in the classroom – access to best practice induction programs, paid mentoring time and reduced teaching loads are needed to help new teachers starting out in a complex and demanding profession.

It’s difficult for experienced teachers to support their new colleagues when they are themselves drowning under administrative tasks and compliance red tape. Experienced teachers need dedicated release time to undertake mentoring roles with beginning teachers.

The repair of an education sector in crisis requires urgent and wide-ranging reforms.