Print this page printer Icon

Initial teacher education

Future directions

Entrants into teacher education will be high academic performers, have well-developed literacy and numeracy skills and show an aptitude for teaching.

Teaching will attract more of the brightest and motivated school leavers and career changers.

NSW teacher education programs will produce high quality graduates with personal attributes suited to teaching.

All teacher education students will receive high quality professional experience as part of their teacher education programs.

The quality of the teaching workforce in NSW will be informed by a strong evidence base.

Current state

The NSW Institute of Teachers (the Institute) assesses the quality of initial teacher education (ITE) programs in NSW against requirements introduced progressively between 2007 and 2009. The first cohorts of students from programs based on these standards are now entering the profession. In 2012, NSW ITE program requirements were revised to incorporate the nationally agreed Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programs in Australia: Standards and Procedures (the national Standards and Procedures).

Like other professional degrees, there is no mandatory government minimum Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) for entry into ITE. ATAR cut-offs are determined by academic achievement, the demand for a program and the number of places available, with cut-offs for the same program often varying across different campuses.

ATAR cut-off scores for entry into NSW ITE programs in 2013 ranged from 58.80 to 94.30. There is some call for improving the quality of entrants into teacher education programs through the setting of minimum ATAR cut-offs, but there is considerable support for the view that selection should not be based solely on a single measure such as an ATAR. Transparency and consistency in the use of ATAR scores, with multiple schemes to allocate bonus ATAR points, are also widely questioned. Some ITE providers argue that more emphasis should be placed on the quality of graduates as they exit from ITE programs, and their aptitude for teaching demonstrated through the accreditation process during their first years of teaching.

The national Standards and Procedures include requirements for entry, subject content, discipline-specific pedagogy and curriculum knowledge, nationally agreed priority areas of study and professional experience. Pre-service teachers completing four-year undergraduate programs are required to complete 80 days of supervised teaching practice; while those completing graduate entry two-year programs are required to complete 60 days of supervised teaching practice.

Applicants into ITE are required to have literacy and numeracy skills equivalent broadly to the top 30% of the population as set out in the national Standards and Procedures at Program Standard 3.1. Since 2009, NSW has required all entrants to undergraduate programs to show that they have the required literacy and numeracy levels through the achievement of Higher School Certificate (HSC) Band 4 in English and General Mathematics for primary teaching and HSC Band 4 in English for secondary teaching.

Applicants not meeting these HSC benchmarks can be admitted to programs, but they must complete study during their program that demonstrates that they have equivalent skill levels. Applicants for graduate entry programs must have completed an undergraduate degree that includes discipline-specific content relevant to the curriculum area or areas in which they intend to teach, although they do not have their literacy or numeracy skills specifically assessed.

Explicit subject content requirements must be met during undergraduate teacher education programs or by graduates who undertake postgraduate ITE. Primary teaching undergraduate programs must include key learning area (KLA) based studies addressing subject content and related pedagogy in 16 units of study, or 8 units in a postgraduate program. Secondary programs must provide for a major (at least 6 units or equivalent) in the first teaching method, and a minor (at least 4 units or equivalent) in additional methods. Entrants into postgraduate programs must meet these discipline requirements in their initial undergraduate degree.

Effective teacher education programs focus attention on the quality of professional experience with emphasis on practice and learning in schools with high quality, experienced teachers as mentors and supervisors. The quality of professional experience placements and their assessment was a key issue raised in the consultation.

Outcomes and actions

1. Entrants into teacher education will be high academic performers, have well-developed literacy and numeracy skills and show an aptitude for teaching.

1.1 Entrants to NSW undergraduate programs will require HSC Band 5 results in a minimum of three subjects, one of which must be English.

Applicants wishing to enrol in ITE programs who do not achieve three HSC Band 5 results, including in English, will need to enrol in a non-teaching degree and, if they graduate and meet specified subject content knowledge requirements, enrol in a graduate entry teaching program. Where double degree courses are restructured to provide for a first year of discipline (non-teacher education studies), the first year must be successfully passed by students before admission to a professional experience placement in schools will be available.

This requirement applies to the approval of ITE programs from January 2015, and the the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) will discuss with providers its incorporation into programs currently under development and likely to be submitted prior to that date.

BOSTES will work closely with ITE providers to examine the adjustments that may be needed to existing programs to support the implementation of this requirement, and any associated issues such as application from interstate and overseas entrants to teacher education programs in NSW. In particular, options to support pathways to teaching for entrants from low socio-economic backgrounds, Aboriginal students and students from rural and regional communities should be built in, including the development of bridging courses prior to entry.

1.2 Teacher education students will need to pass a literacy and numeracy assessment before their final-year professional experience placement.

A new literacy and numeracy assessment will be designed to focus on personal literacy and numeracy and on areas of literacy and numeracy important for primary and secondary teaching. Successful completion of the assessment will be a requirement for graduation, and must be completed before the final-year professional experience placement. This will ensure that teacher education graduates have levels of literacy and numeracy at least equivalent to those of the top 30% of the population and relevant to teaching.

Current literacy and numeracy requirements based on NSW HSC Band 4 in English and General Mathematics will be phased out in line with the introduction of the new literacy and numeracy assessment. BOSTES will work with ITE providers so the literacy and numeracy assessment is implemented in 2015.

1.3 A framework of attributes for assessing suitability for teaching will be developed for use by teacher education providers and schools.

The new framework will identify suitability to teach criteria and strategies for assessment. It will also align with the personal capability implications of the Graduate Teaching Standards and be built into the final professional experience assessment. The framework will be capable of underpinning the development of instruments and strategies for assessment of candidates for teaching at different points, such as prior to entry into ITE programs, at strategic points during teacher education programs, and prior to graduation and employment. It will also support school principals in identifying and encouraging promising school students into teaching.

BOSTES will work with ITE providers, school authorities and teachers to develop the framework by the end of 2014 and protocols for use will be agreed with ITE providers by 2015.

2. Teaching will attract more of the brightest and motivated school leavers and career changers.

2.1 Incentives will be targeted to attract more of the best and brightest school leavers into teaching.

School authorities will be encouraged to target their current scholarship programs and other incentives to:

  • increase the number and range of scholarships for students who achieve HSC results focused on subject areas where there is workforce need, and for students who wish to teach in rural and remote communities
  • support schools to identify high performing students with an aptitude for teaching earlier in their schooling (for example, in Year 10), and encourage them into teaching careers through various means, such as providing work experience placements focused on teaching careers.

2.2 More options will be offered for the qualification and employment of teachers and attraction of career changers into teaching.

BOSTES will work with school authorities and ITE providers to: 

  • develop primary teacher education course patterns that allow specialist elective strands that could scaffold into a secondary teaching certification (for example, mathematics and science) or a specialist role (for example, special education or school counselling). Undergraduate teachers gaining primary qualifications could also gain qualification for a secondary teaching method, which would allow them to be recruited into primary schools with a specialist role, or in secondary schools as a secondary teacher
  • develop clear Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) rules that enable the qualifications, skills and experiences of applicants to be assessed as comparable to the intent of the subject discipline requirements for teaching. This would allow ITE providers, employers and BOSTES to make consistent RPL judgements about ITE candidates, career changers, employment applicants and returning teachers. These processes would also support ITE providers to develop alternate pathway programs that rely on RPL
  • recognise knowledge and skills gained in highly relevant degrees and professions held by possible career changers, so that these can be assessed as meeting the subject content requirements for teaching degrees, in particular in those areas of workforce shortage such as mathematics and science.

2.3 More options will be available for earlier entry into teaching for high performing pre-service students.

Extended internships and new models of clinical professional experience placements will be offered to support high performing pre-service teachers in their final year to enter into teaching prior to the completion of their teaching degree. Options for early entry will require protocols for appropriate structured support and will be integrated with employment strategies targeted at high performing students.

During 2013 school authorities, BOSTES and ITE providers will identify options and determine provisions for internship requirements and new models of clinical professional experience placements in schools. BOSTES will establish clear guidelines for the use of the Conditional Accreditation pathway, including protocols for supervision and support.

3. NSW teacher education programs will produce high quality graduates with personal attributes suited to teaching.

3.1 The quality of initial teacher education programs will be assessed and publicly reported on an annual basis. 

BOSTES will implement an annual process to examine ITE programs in agreed targeted areas, producing an annual public report to the Minister. BOSTES will also provide an individual report to each provider containing an assessment of the practices embedded in their own programs in light of BOSTES' assessment and informed by other available information. BOSTES will also discuss with the provider any issues which arise to ensure they are addressed.

This process will target two key areas:

  • The preparation of teachers in the National Priority Areas. In 2013, the National Priority Areas of Classroom Management and Students with Special Education Needs will be examined. Subsequent priority areas will be advised by the BOSTES Quality Teaching Council in consultation with stakeholders.
  • The preparation of teachers to teach the curriculum content of NSW syllabuses, including those syllabuses that incorporate the Australian Curriculum.

Initial priority will be to examine the adequacy of ITE programs in addressing literacy learning, including an integrated, explicit and systematic approach to the teaching of reading, with a range of models, including instruction on how to teach phonic and phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary knowledge and text comprehension and interpretation, and writing (including grammar and spelling), speaking and listening.

BOSTES will ensure this approach to literacy learning is a requirement of all primary teaching programs and of the English method component of secondary programs. BOSTES will continue to monitor the approach of ITE providers to these key content areas and teaching methods as an ongoing requirement of ITE programs in NSW.

3.2 Teachers will be better prepared to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

BOSTES will lead a project to ensure teacher education courses address the analysis and use of student assessment data to inform classroom practice in both primary and secondary programs. The project will elaborate the key elements of content and identify a range of proven strategies for meeting Graduate Teacher Standards 2.3.1 and 5.4.1 that can be shared and used by ITE providers.

This project will be undertaken in 2013 with exemplars of effective current practices available for use by ITE providers during 2014.

3.3 Teachers will be better prepared to engage with parents and the school community.

BOSTES and ITE providers will work with organisations of school parents to identify and support joint initiatives, for strengthening approaches to teacher education that address the role of parents, caregivers and communities in teaching consistent with the ethos of the school (Graduate Teacher Standards 3.7.1 and 7.3.1).

4. All teacher education students will receive high quality professional experience as part of their teacher education programs.

4.1 A new framework will be developed that sets out the expectations for high quality professional experience placements in NSW schools.

An agreed framework governing high quality professional experience placements in NSW schools will be developed to underpin partnership agreements between and among schools, school authorities and ITE providers.

The new framework will include clear expectations of all participants, requirements of all roles, professional learning provision to support supervision, protocols for assessment of students and agreed funding arrangements.

BOSTES will work with ITE providers, school authorities and teachers to complete the framework by 2014.

4.2 There will be much closer matching of the supply of graduate teachers with the demand for graduate teachers.

School authorities and ITE providers will negotiate agreements for professional experience and work together to share workforce data and plan to meet future teacher needs. Negotiations between school authorities and ITE providers will provide greater certainty for providers around the availability of places and develop greater continuity and consistency in the relationship between individual schools, groups of schools and particular providers.

Priority will be given to professional experience placements for providers who enter into agreements embodying the elements of the agreed framework developed under action 4.1 above.

4.3 Specialist professional experience schools will showcase high quality professional placement practice.

A small number of schools will be identified across NSW to showcase high quality professional placement practice. They will be required to demonstrate whole school commitment to the collective examination of teaching practice and ongoing professional learning around outstanding teaching practice in association with the preparation of teachers.

4.4 Teachers supervising professional experience placements will be required to undertake professional learning.

Professional learning will be available to supervising teachers from 2014. Professional learning programs or modules must be registered with the Institute and desirably provide credit towards university credentials.

The provision of professional learning for supervising teachers should also be a component of the partnership agreements between schools, school authorities and providers.

4.5 Accredited Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers will lead the professional experience activities of schools.

School authorities will progressively introduce into schools that take pre-service teachers on professional experience placements, supervision by teachers accredited at Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher.

BOSTES will develop support material illustrating how supervising professional experience will contribute to evidence for accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher.

4.6 Initial Teacher Education providers will maintain a proportion of teaching program load carried by staff with recent teaching practice.

Human resource provisions will be developed to support greater interchange between teachers and ITE provider personnel. Over time ITE providers and school authorities will develop arrangements for joint appointments of teachers accredited at either Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher for more systematic roles in the delivery of ITE programs.

4.7 Assessment of professional experience will be rigorous and consistent across teacher education programs.

Protocols, instruments and other support material, including an evidence guide, will be developed to ensure that there is clarity, rigour and greater consistency in the assessment of professional experience; especially in the assessments against Graduate Teacher Standards in the final year of teacher preparation programs.

BOSTES, in tandem with ITE providers, school authorities and expert teachers, will develop the evidence guide and other materials to be available in 2014.

4.8 Commonwealth support will be sought to improve the quality of the professional experience through more explicit requirements in university funding agreements.

The NSW Government will negotiate with the Commonwealth the goal of stronger partnerships among universities and school authorities to improve the quality of the professional experience placement, and ask that the Commonwealth consider including explicit requirements for improving the professional experience in the Commonwealth's funding agreements with universities. This could include, for example, a condition in the Commonwealth's funding agreement that requires ITE providers to have in place agreements or processes with schools and school authorities to assure the number of professional experience places before they make any offers to teacher education entrants.

5. The quality of the teaching workforce in NSW will be informed by a strong evidence base.

5.1 Data will be collected and shared to create a nationally and internationally benchmarked workforce profile of the NSW teaching profession.

A workforce profile of the NSW teaching profession will be created and maintained. This will involve:

  • profiling entrants into and graduates from teacher education courses in NSW - for example, the characteristics of their ITE experiences, post ITE employment destinations and career progression (including teachers teaching outside their subject area), school experiences over the teacher life cycle and on exit from teaching, and correlation data between school leaving scores and Grade Point Averages and attrition rates
  • improved data sharing between ITE providers, BOSTES and school authorities
  • developing robust data sets related to the characteristics and professional experiences of trainee and new career teachers, and the patterns of employment of teachers across their career life cycle and until they exit the workforce. The data definitions will allow for national and international benchmarking.

The information required will make use of existing data and collection mechanisms as much as possible, including any national projects led by The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). The feasibility and practicality of any new data collections will also need to be carefully considered to avoid undue administrative burden on schools, school authorities and ITE providers.

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation within the Department of Education will lead this joint project with the NSW Council of Deans of Education, BOSTES and school authorities.

A workforce profile report will be provided annually to the NSW Schools Advisory Council to inform workforce planning, with the first report published in 2014. Every three years a 'State of the NSW Teaching Profession' report will be provided to the Minister that nationally and internationally benchmarks the 'health' of the NSW teaching profession against a range of indicators, with the first report published in 2014.

5.2 Information about the quality of initial teacher education programs will be publicly reported.

BOSTES will publish a consolidated report each year summarising the following information from ITE providers: 

  • evaluative information and data used by providers to drive program improvement (for example, student assessment data and stakeholder feedback)
  • data on the number of entrants admitted into teacher education programs against HSC Band requirements and the spread of ATARs for each ITE program (including published and actual minimum ATARs used for entry in each year)
  • information about the challenges encountered, opportunities taken and any changes to ITE programs.

BOSTES, along with ITE providers and school authorities, will develop guidelines for the annual provision of this information as set out in national Program Standard 7. The information required will make the most efficient use of existing data collections.

BOSTES will publish a consolidated report each year summarising the information provided by ITE providers with the first report available in 2014.

5.3 The extent and quality of online study in teacher education will be examined.

A study will be undertaken into the extent of online candidature in ITE and the arrangements for and quality of professional experience placements in NSW schools. This study will assess the general quality of this mode of teacher preparation, the extent of professional experience demands on NSW schools from online students from interstate ITE providers and the quality of the arrangements governing such school placements.

BOSTES, in partnership with ITE providers, school authorities and teaching organisations, will complete the study and report findings to the Minister by the end of 2014.