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Entry into the profession

Future directions

All beginning teachers will receive a high quality induction program to support their entry into the teaching profession.

All beginning teachers will receive high quality support to enhance their teaching skills during their first year of teaching.

Teachers returning to the profession will be required to refresh and update their knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy and educational expectations.

Accreditation and probation processes in NSW government schools will be aligned to create one system for beginning teachers.

Current state

All NSW teachers who commenced teaching from 1 October 2004, or who have been away from teaching for five years or more, are required to be accredited. The Institute of Teachers Act 2004 requires teachers employed on a full-time basis to gain accreditation at Proficient Teacher (Professional Competence) within three years. Currently teachers who are offered permanent employment in NSW government schools must be accredited at Proficient Teacher (Professional Competence) in their first year of teaching. Teachers in NSW non-government schools employed on a permanent basis generally have up to three years to meet this requirement, with most completing the requirements within 18 months to two years.

The vast majority of teaching graduates are employed as teachers for the first time on a casual basis and are allowed five years to gain accreditation at Proficient Teacher (Professional Competence).

During the first years of a teaching career, induction programs play a critical role in supporting the development of capable and confident professional teachers. The quality of induction into the profession for beginning teachers was a key issue raised in the consultation, with general consensus that beginning teachers should have reduced teaching loads and support from trained mentors.

Induction programs for early career teachers are the responsibility of schools and school authorities. Implementation of a comprehensive induction program for beginning teachers currently varies between schools and there is little access to induction programs for casual and temporary teachers as they move between schools.

Teacher mentors play a pivotal role in the implementation of induction programs, providing advice and feedback for beginning teachers to develop their skills and compile evidence of their attainment of the professional teaching standards for accreditation. While there are existing mentor programs across NSW schools, these programs do not reach all beginning teachers, and not all who provide mentoring support to new teachers are trained in this role.

For example, the NSW Department of Education and Communities currently employs 50 teacher mentors who work across 92 schools that have significant numbers of new permanent teacher appointments. These mentors annually support about 60% of the total number of newly appointed teachers in government schools. NSW government schools with beginning teachers currently receive an allocation of one hour per week to support beginning teachers to achieve accreditation at the key stage of Proficient Teacher (Professional Competence). Some non-government schools and systems have also established positions to support the development and accreditation of beginning teachers.

Currently there is no formal refresher course or program that returning teachers are required to complete before recommencing teaching after an extended absence from the profession. However, teachers returning after a break from teaching of more than five years are required by the Institute of Teachers Act 2004 to return as

Provisionally or Conditionally Accredited teachers and, once they are teaching, show that they meet the requirements for accreditation at Proficient Teacher (Professional Competence).

Outcomes and actions

6. All beginning teachers will receive a high quality induction program to support their entry into the teaching profession.

6.1 The induction each permanent beginning teacher receives will be strengthened. 

Each permanent and long-term temporary beginning teacher should receive a structured induction program that:

  • is of high quality and builds on effective existing strategies and current research
  • supports teachers to develop skills and evidence of effective practice for accreditation as a Proficient Teacher
  • reflects the ethos and goals of the school
  • uses the professional teaching standards for structured induction into the profession of teaching generally, as well as addressing the specific demands and context of the school.

In 2013, school authorities should identify good practice in induction support and use this to inform the development of guidelines for schools to use to provide high quality induction.

6.2 Casual and short-term temporary teachers will be able to access better induction support.

Beginning teachers employed on a casual or short-term temporary basis should have access to appropriate systemic induction support that could include:

  • professional learning forums, delivered locally and online, to support temporary and casual teachers meet the requirements for accreditation
  • options for the provision of structured support by clusters of schools, which is explicitly recognised and incorporated by school principals into their arrangements for undertaking the accreditation of casual and temporary teachers who spend time in their schools.

BOSTES will work with school authorities to have quality induction support available for casual and short-term temporary teachers from 2014.

7. All beginning teachers will receive high quality support to enhance their teaching skills during their first year of teaching.

7.1 The responsibilities or teaching loads for permanent beginning teachers should be restructured so they can be supported by mentoring and collaborative practices.

Beginning teachers employed on a permanent or long-term temporary basis should be on a reduced or restructured teaching load for their first year of teaching. In order for teachers to benefit from a reduced or restructured teaching load, schools should have the following conditions in place:

  • beginning teachers have reduced responsibilities or teaching loads sufficient to support development of their skills in the first year
  • beginning teachers are provided with ongoing feedback and support that is embedded in the collaborative practices of the school
  • mentoring structures and collaborative practices support beginning teachers within the school or across a cluster of schools, and any teacher mentors have access to specific training and the flexibility in their teaching responsibilities to support classroom observation and provide structured feedback
  • beginning teachers have access to professional learning that focuses on classroom and behaviour management, strategies to build student engagement, collaborative professional practices within the school and productive relationships with parents and care givers.

School authorities will revisit existing beginning teacher policies and programs in order to improve the support each permanent beginning teacher receives.

Over time, school authorities should consider formalising teacher mentor roles and aligning them with the professional teaching standards and accreditation at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher.

7.2 Casual and short-term temporary beginning teachers will have access to mentoring support and collaborative practice.

Mentoring strategies and collaborative practices to support casual and short-term temporary beginning teachers should be provided by schools in which those teachers are employed for one term or more.

8. Teachers returning to the profession will be required to refresh and update their knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy and educational expectations.

8.1 All teachers returning to the profession after an absence of five years or more will be required to complete a refresher course.

BOSTES, in association with school authorities, ITE providers and the professional teaching associations will develop guidelines for the content of returning teacher courses to ensure the currency of teachers returning to the profession after an absence of five years or more. Courses should be tailored to the differing needs of the returning teachers.

The Institute will advise the Minister on options for the development and delivery of the courses by mid-2013 to enable the program to be available in 2014.

9. Accreditation and probation processes in NSW government schools will be aligned to create one system for beginning teachers.

9.1 Department processes for teacher probation and provisional accreditation will be aligned to BOSTES' processes for accreditation and the Department's performance management and development processes. 

The NSW Department of Education and Communities (the Department) will revise its processes for teacher probation and Provisional Accreditation to align them with its new performance management and development processes and BOSTES' processes for accreditation at the Proficient Teacher level, so there is one aligned process for all government school teachers from 2014.

The Department will consider including the following aspects in the new process:

  • extending the period of Provisional Accreditation from one year to a maximum of two years for newly appointed permanent teachers
  • ensuring that the gaining of evidence for accreditation aligns to the teacher's performance management and development process, and that these processes are relevant to both the teacher and the school
  • moving the responsibility for assessing accreditation at the Proficient Teacher level away from the School Education Director to the principal so that principals become the Teacher Accreditation Authority
  • supporting the consistency of professional judgement of this process through local school networks, moderated through the Institute's external assessor processes
  • working with BOSTES to strengthen the external moderation of the quality of accreditation judgements and the processes undertaken.

9.2 A streamlined reporting system will be implemented to make it easier for government teachers to satisfy the requirements of both the Institute and the Department.

BOSTES and the Department will implement a new streamlined reporting system to enable one process and one report to determine proficiency of the teacher for the Department's performance management and development process and to satisfy the requirements of the Institute for accreditation at the Proficient Teacher level. The new system will be operational in 2014.