Government announces oversight of teacher education academics

Education Minister Jason Clare has announced membership of the Initial Teacher Education Quality Assurance Oversight Board (FC Appointments, Achievements below). It’s a recommendation of the Scott Review of ITE, and “will work to improve the national consistency and quality of initial teacher education.”

It is the culmination of a long and bipartisan process based on assumptions that whatever is wrong with schools, teacher education courses are often to blame.

This all started with sometime Coalition Education Minister, Chris Pyne who commissioned  a review of ITE chaired by Greg Craven, then VC of ACU, one of the biggest teacher ed providers.

“Not all initial teacher education programmes are equipping graduates with the content knowledge, evidence-based teaching strategies and skills they need to respond to different student learning needs,” the review stated.

Mr Pyne responded in part by commissioning national literacy and numeracy tests for new teaching graduates and an overhaul of teacher education courses. The former became LANTITE and the latter culminated in Mark Scott’s review of teacher education.

The reform push lost its way under subsequent Coalition Minister Alan Tudge, who in 2021 twice criticised ITE faculties for “ideology and fads” in instructional practice and mentioned that the Government could “use the full leverage of the $760m” that goes to teacher training to address their concerns.

But Mr Tudge also commissioned Professor Scott, who reported to Jason Clare after the change of Government. Mr Clare picked up the report and is still running with it, while astutely avoiding culture-warring about the best way to teach children to read.

Instead, he has presented himself as a friend to all teachers, (for example on workloads) and teacher education academics with practical programs, like the quality teaching round program developed by a Uni Newcastle team. “Our teachers are experts at what they do – and who better to learn from than each other,” Mr Clare said in a funding announcement.

But he goes in hard on the failures of ITE academics in general. “If you ask most teachers, they will tell you that when they first became a teacher, they didn’t feel prepared for the classroom. That the prac they got when they were at uni was not up to scratch,” he said on ABC RN last May.

“What they learnt at university didn’t give them all the skills they needed to teach students to read or to write or to manage a difficult and disruptive classroom.”

This is a politically-sustainable sell, given the failure of the ITE establishment to makes cases against allegations on the three big political issues in education metrics

  • PISA scores in free fall – these common claims disregard research, notably by Sally Larsen at Uni New England, (Future Campus, October 4 2023)
  • Low STEM retention in senior school years particularly for young women, despite parental opinion having plenty to do with (Campus Morning Mail, May 4 2021)
  • ATAR entry scores deemed insufficient – which ignores other ways people come to teaching degrees.

As Greg Craven has pointed out, it’s not the selection basis for ITE courses that matters, it is what students learn. Performance tests before they can enter classrooms can measure that.

“The ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of teaching quality has already been found. It is being implemented. Our job now is to keep pushing, to ensure that everyone involved meets their commitments, in full and on time,” Professor Craven said back in 2018 (CMM November 29).

And there is the ITE establishment’s problem – it is now generally accepted that teacher education is not meeting its commitments. Just ask Jason Clare.



Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to us to always stay in touch with us and get latest news, insights, jobs and events!