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STANDING COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING
(House of Representatives-Tuesday, 7 June 2005)
MAHER, Ms Aine
ROSS, Mr Alan
KNOPP, Ms Kerri
CHAIR (Mr Hartsuyker)
INGVARSON, Dr Lawrence
CAVENAGH, Mr Raymond
DEVEREAUX, Ms Jenni
WILLIAMSON, Mr Andrew
VEAL, Ms Judith
BAILEY, Mr Anthony
SAINT-JAMES, Ms Virginia
TOBIAS, Dr Stephen
CARTLEDGE, Dr Damon Neil
SHEED, Dr Jennifer
NEVILLE, Dr Bernard William
PRAIN, Associate Professor Vaughan Richard
HEYWOOD, Dr Peta
NUTTALL, Dr Joce
CORRIGAN, Dr Deborah Joy
LOUGHRAN, Professor Jeffrey John
BROWN, Mrs Jennifer Elizabeth
MISSON, Associate Professor
STACEY, Professor Kaye
URE, Associate Professor
MOSS, Dr Julianne
FAWNS, Dr Roderick
ECKERSLEY, Dr William
MOORE, Mr Rodney Crawford
KRUGER, Associate Professor Tony
CACCIATTOLO, Dr Marcelle Nicole
CHEREDNICHENKO, Dr Brenda Frances
ZAFAR, Miss Zahra
RADCLIFFE, Ms Michelle
CRINALL, Ms Sarah
PANAYIOTOU, Mrs Julie
SPENCER, Miss Laura
MERCOVICH, Mr Charles
LEA, Ms Kimberly
FREE, Mr Andrew
SACCO, Mr Benjamin
NORMAN, Mr Matthew
HENRY, Miss Tobey
JONES, Miss Sarah
BAXTER, Mr Nicholas
DRIES, Ms Shanta
LAWRIE, Ms Megan
HANNETT, Mr Jonathon
- Ms LIVERMORE
Content WindowSTANDING COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING - 07/06/2005 - Teacher education
CHAIR —Welcome. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise you that these hearings are legal proceedings of the parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the House itself. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. Are there any corrections or amendments you would like to make to your submission? If not, I invite you to make an opening statement.
Prof. Prain —We welcome this opportunity to talk to the inquiry and we welcome its recognition of the central importance of teacher education in our country. I am going to talk just for 10 minutes, briefly addressing each of the terms of reference. We have a group with a lot of expertise that can answer individual questions.
In relation to the first point, entry into our courses is generally via academic aptitude. That means year 12 results or degree results. The mature age students do further literacy and numeracy tests. It is probably not the most ideal method, but we get so many applicants that it is what we currently do as a practical solution. On the second issue of the quality of students, we believe the quality of students into our courses is improving. In general, if we take the one-year DipEd course, typically students have more than a straight degree. They are often older students. The median age now is 30, as you probably heard from other reports. We are getting high-quality applicants into our programs. It is an interesting time at La Trobe because the university has seen fit to create a new faculty of education with 1,100 students or so in four years with a one-year course. We have five campuses. Each of those campuses in Victoria is involved in teacher preparation. The campuses are Bendigo, where the new faculty is based; Bundoora in Melbourne; Shepparton; Albury-Wodonga; and Mildura. So we are involved in teacher preparation in a wide range of campuses in a new faculty in a university that is seeing education as a high priority.
On the third point of criteria for selection, staff into our school are selected on merit in terms of teaching and research expertise. I guess there has been a problem in recruitment, as I am sure you are going to hear over and over again. Of the comparable pay scales in relation to other jobs, even in relation to teaching, we now have principals who get more money than professors. This creates challenges for the system. It is very hard to sum up quickly the philosophy of what we do across all those courses and campuses. Our program is very much based on evidence based practices. We are interested in learner diversity, an experiential practical approach and in having a strong relationship with schools and a student-oriented focus. We see that teaching and preparation for teaching is not just a technical matter. It is not just the business of skilling people. It involves a holistic approach where we focus on feelings and on an understanding of that role in relation to students.
In terms of question 6, which is about the interaction and relationship with other university faculty disciplines, as you may know, we run various double degrees, such as a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education. We see it important to build connections between discipline knowledge and education background.
The question of what the curriculum is is certainly a hot topic. As you have noted here in your terms of reference, we too are concerned that the curriculum for teacher preparation should be very much about important issues in terms of Indigenous students. I see it as one of the few things you have not listed there in terms of issues facing teacher preparation. I will make a very quick point that pluralistic approaches are needed. This applies to teaching literacy. We do not have one doctrinaire approach to how you teach. I am sure you will hear this over and over again. We are lucky here in Victoria in that the new Victorian Institute of Teaching has played a very important part in terms of focusing on high-quality accreditation processes. This means that our courses go through very exacting reviews in terms of reaccreditation. All of our courses have just been through that process and are seen as exemplary in terms of understanding key issues facing teacher preparation.
On point 8, which concerns the relationship with schools, clearly it is a crucial role that the schools play. Our written submission covered a lot of points in relation to that. We listed various ways in which we extend the program beyond the practicum, which is the mainstay of teacher preparation in terms of schools. However, we want to make the point that teacher preparation has to be a combination of university and school based work. There has to be scope for reflection outside the school context and the development of skills and understandings at the university.
Point 9 relates to the current split. We too see that there is perhaps something artificial in the current split between primary and secondary teacher preparation. Our courses reflect this in that we offer programs that engage teachers in learning about the middle years, such as P to 9 and P to 12. We have a range of programs as it is important to have teacher preparation involved across that divide.
On the question of professional development, it is a very interesting time in Australia. There is considerable input from both federal and state and private consortia in offering professional development. The point we would like to make to the committee is that it is valuable to have this input, but perhaps there is scope for more coordination across all of the professional development opportunities both at state and federal level. We seem to often have overlap. Again, there is a crucial role in universities providing quality assurance for professional development. This is sometimes the case but not always in terms of what is going on around this country now.
Finally, on the question of the adequacy of funding, as you would well know, universities are strapped for cash. The effect of that is a trickle down onto all the faculties in terms of what they can provide. La Trobe is a university that puts education as a high priority. We consider we are well treated. But the university in general would have concerns about recurrent funding. I will stop there.
CHAIR —Thank you. With regard to resources for the practicum, you indicated in your submission that there should be a substantial increase in the resources for teacher placements. How do you see the current level of resourcing of the practicum and how much do you think it should be increased by?
Dr Tobias —The practicum does take a considerable amount of funding. The costs of visiting students and paying supervising teachers across a region are quite substantial. In Bendigo at the moment, we are paying teachers $300,000 to supervise. We believe strongly in having a collaborative role to the point where we would like to maintain that sort of contact. We know from experience that visiting students while they are on practicum and interacting with the teachers, for that matter, during the practicum is extremely important. It is extremely important for a number of reasons. It gives the students the contact back with the university. They can discuss theoretical issues and, more likely, curriculum issues about implementation and how to do it. We have a lovely relationship with our students that way.
It is also an excellent avenue for us to interact with the classroom teacher. I believe across our region anyway that we have a great relationship with schools. It is very healthy. We are able to at other times call on those schools and teachers for assistance or even research or to develop greater and far deeper links with the school communities. So there is a great call for us to do that in our local schools. As far as how much it costs and possibly how much—
Prof. Prain —In a one-year DipEd course, the cost of the practicum is about $1,200, which means it is a sizeable proportion of the money coming in to provide a one-year program. It would be a great assistance to the quality and the provision if we had more money available. As you will hear from other universities, that cost is not necessarily easily met in terms of the money available.
CHAIR —In an ideal world, by how much would you raise the investment in the practicum?
Dr Neville —I would say that currently there is no investment in the practicum in the sense that the money we receive from the university to run our teacher education programs does not pay for the teacher education programs. They are only supported by cross-subsidisation from other courses—from fee-paying courses from international students and so on. When one takes the $1,200 out per student per year, what remains is not actually sufficient to maintain the courses. If that amount were added to what we receive through some procedure or other, it would be a much more comfortable situation for us.
I will take up a point from here. The budgetary pressure on us leads us to have bigger classes, which we do not think is a good idea, less interactive teaching and fewer visits to schools by staff. You will probably have heard from other institutions that some of them have had to abandon the notion of visits from staff to schools altogether because of budgetary considerations. It is something which can be cut out routinely bureaucratically, but it is something which really does affect the quality of what we do.
CHAIR —Sure. If you were to look at the current resources devoted to the practicum sector of the course, what proportion of increase would you see as giving an optimal result—10 per cent, 15 per cent or 20 per cent?
Dr Neville —For me, in terms of my acquaintance with the budget, we really need the whole of the practicum payment to teachers to be added to our budget, which is the $1,200 per student in a one-year program. It is about one-third of our total cost.
Mr BARTLETT —By way of clarification, how do you derive that figure of $1,200?
Prof. Prain —That is two methods, two rounds and the payment to schools or teachers.
Mr BARTLETT —Payment to the classroom teachers?
Prof. Prain —Yes. For the supervision of the student.
Dr Heywood —That is for 45 days teaching experience in a one-year course. Ideally, a 60-day teaching experience would be beneficial. To overcome that, we give them 15 days in what we call fieldwork, where they go into educational institutions and see how they operate in a different way. Teachers do not get paid for that. There is always a little bit of a conflict in whether you should take this student in on fieldwork when you are not getting paid.
Mr BARTLETT —So the $1,200 is paid to the classroom teacher for their work in supervising and writing a report?
Dr Heywood —Yes. Only for the 45 days.
Prof. Prain —In some private schools, it goes to the school, not the teachers. But it is the cost of the supervision of the two methods for two rounds. So there are additional costs. As you could well appreciate in a regional context, if we have a three-hour drive to Sea Lake and back, in time, they are all additional costs to actually providing a professional experience for the student teacher. So the $1,200 is the absolute minimum cost of actually just covering their requirements. It does not cover all the costs.
Mr BARTLETT —I notice in point eight and in your introductory comment that you make the point that it is difficult to get enough placements and enough supervising teachers. Is part of the reason for that simply the fact that classroom teachers do not see the $1,200 as adequate to pay for the extra effort?
Prof. Prain —It would be a mix.
Dr Heywood —At the moment, many teachers do not see it as their role to take on student teachers. More importantly, we in the university have no control over who takes on the role of supervising the student teachers. In some cases, you have people who are actually not doing their job efficiently. Because we have to rely on the schools to nominate who does it and because there is this very delicate negotiation with a lot of students needing a lot of places, I think it would be very beneficial if we were able to pay them a little more money and the university would have some way of accepting or coaching or monitoring the way they supervise the student teachers.
It is a very important part of the program. I am currently dealing with quite a few students who feel they have had a very difficult time with supervisors who are not modelling splendid teaching and have not treated them with the kind of respect and care that a beginning teacher needs. So I feel quite strongly that this area of teacher supervision in the schools is one that is probably shared by many people and one that we should be looking at.
CHAIR —An argument has been put that in many other professions the professionals take on training responsibilities as part of their professional responsibility rather than as a paid position. Would you ascribe to that view? Do we need to look at fostering that teacher training for ongoing professionals or that teacher training ethic, if you like?
Dr Neville —There was an attempt within the award for teachers some years ago to include the supervision of student teachers as part of the award for senior teachers. That fell in something of a hole because suddenly we found we did not have enough people offering to do it. There simply were not enough people at senior level in a position to do it. People who were recently graduated themselves were called on to do it and they were not being paid the salary which was supposed to go with it.
I do not think it is only a matter of financial reward for supervising teachers. I think there is a status thing and other kinds of rewards that need to go with it. I think some sort of accreditation or recognition of the status of the position is something that needs to be introduced into the profession.
Dr Sheed —Given the current climate, it is totally unrealistic to expect teachers to take it on as an extra duty to what they already have. There are a very large number of students trying to find placements in schools. I think in our society the way we seal transactions is through some sort of payment or whatever. Taking up Peter’s point and Bernie’s point, if there were money there, we would be able to have greater requirements of supervising teachers in terms of the quality of the product they deliver and the way they treat students. Practicum and practicum supervision and finding placements is a very elaborate dance at the moment. As many people have said, it is maintaining those relationships with schools. It happens because we do visit and because there is that personal contact. Keeping up that personal contact costs money. I think the financing of the practicum and thinking through how it might be better financed is probably a critical issue for this particular review.
Prof. Prain —Teacher preparation is of course more than just our time with the students. There is also the question of mentoring and transition. Here in Victoria the Victorian Institute of Teaching is looking at the idea of accrediting people to be mentors. But they are often the very people that we find the best supervising teachers. So there are still challenges in how we are going to have a system that is very effective in terms of teacher preparation while they are studying but also providing transition. As you would appreciate, transition into the profession and being supported in those first few years is really crucial to retaining people in the profession.
Mr SAWFORD —I want to ask a crass question about money. How is it allocated in the university? Why is it that you, Professor Prain, are getting less than a principal of an equivalent school? Why is it that full-time people in teacher education are paid so little in some institutions? There seems to be something drastically wrong with the amount of money that is given to an education faculty. Does the money subsidise other faculties or is it the other way around? When I read through the submissions from the universities, I find it totally unacceptable.
Prof. Prain —We agree.
Mr SAWFORD —I know. How does this happen?
Prof. Prain —As you well appreciate, there are historical reasons for this. The status of teaching and the status of teacher education within the system are all factors that have contributed to that history and that state that we have now.
Mr SAWFORD —You would have been better off in a teachers college.
Prof. Prain —Then again, that is another question about status and pecking order as to what is seen as relatively important within a higher education system.
Mr SAWFORD —What is the actual differential between a relative salary in teacher education and what happens to, say, a top-level experienced teacher? What is the differential?
Dr Neville —A beginning teacher is currently on $43,000 or something like that, which is about the salary that a junior academic would get in a university. The junior academic, in most faculties, comes straight from a PhD at the age of 22 or 23 and has an academic career. If we want to employ a teacher at $43,000, we are looking for someone who has teaching experience and a PhD, which is hard enough to get. But to have the kind of experience we want, they are going to be a senior teacher with a salary at least in the $50,000s, and we expect them to have a PhD on top of that. At the top levels, I think there are high schools in Victoria where the principal would earn $120,000. A professor of education’s salary starts at about $90,000 and goes up to about $100,000. That is how I understand it. The main difference is getting people to take a drop in salary in order to become teacher educators.
Mr SAWFORD —Not very attractive.
Dr Heywood —To become a teacher educator in a university, this requirement of having a doctorate puts a huge impediment in front of teachers. We have currently what we call recent professional practice applicant staff members that we have been able to put on at junior academic salaries. Of course, that is a very low rate of pay for them. But we can accept them because they have recent practice in the classroom, which is terribly important in keeping your course up to date and running.
Mr SAWFORD —What percentage of your teacher educators would have recent teaching experience in schools?
Prof. Prain —Nowadays, most staff are involved in research on working in schools. There is a strong requirement that we are seen as involved in collaborative partnerships either through research or other kinds of programs or in service or consultancy. If we are talking full time, it is a kind of release, so there are very few in that category. But in most cases, people would have had some recent experience.
Mr SAWFORD —La Trobe has the most interesting arrangement in terms of being in regional areas. In terms of organising those practicums, that must obviously bring great problems. Can you tell me how you structure a practicum in the four years of teaching? What happens? How is it structured? What happens in the first year, second year, third year and fourth year?
Dr Tobias —In the first year—this is a BEd (Primary) course—
Mr SAWFORD —That will do as an example.
Dr Tobias —These students can actually be dual trained and come out as middle year teachers as well. In the first year, we believe in getting them out into the classroom as quickly as we can. We do so in the third week of first semester of first year. They are out there one day a week basically for a semester—about 10 weeks, I suppose—over first and second semester. In second year, we have two three-week rounds, one in each semester, and the same again in third year. We have different variations to that. In the third year, they can take on an alternative practicum, which may be one day a week or two days a week for a whole semester, to take up the same amount of time.
Next year will be the first time the fourth year of the course has been run. We have called it field experience on purpose to move away from the notion of practicum. The practicum requirements for the course will have been achieved by the end of third year. In our fourth year, we are looking for more action research type work with the schools and interaction with the schools. So the students actually go into the schools as a real partner and take on real responsibilities in that classroom. They can really play with the big boys in terms of showing their skills and working side by side with a teacher. At the moment, that is down at 25 days in the fourth year. So it is a lot of time out in schools. It is spread right through the course. We believe that is a very good model. It has worked for us quite well.
Mr SAWFORD —I have one last question. Is there any role for a modern equivalent of a demonstration school? I have a good memory of demonstration schools, where the best principals were around and the best teachers. Basically, the highest common factor in education dominated what happened. There were continuing links with the teacher educators. In other words, those people knew each other on a personal basis, so the relationship was not only professional; it was personal and it was continuing. I acknowledge that with the numbers involved it is only a part of an answer, but it could be a very positive part at particular stages of a practicum in terms of either the fourth year or maybe the third year of a course. Do you have any views on a modern equivalent of the old demonstration school in its more positive light?
Dr Neville —At the metropolitan campus, a number of principals in the area close to La Trobe would be very interested in having a particular kind of partnership with the School of Education at Bundoora in which their teachers came and taught within the program and students went to those schools on an ongoing basis. They have a bit of trouble persuading their staff that this is a good idea. We are working, I think, that kind of partnership with half-a-dozen schools. We have—I am thinking of the secondary level—an intake each year of about 140 students. This is possible within half-a-dozen schools. We have, as I said, considerable interest from a number of principals. But changing the culture of those schools so that they have student teachers with them day after day after day may be a little bit difficult.
Mr SAWFORD —You mentioned status earlier. One of the advantages of the older demonstration school was that the principal was paid a differential; it was not a great differential. He or she was recognised as an educational leader. The teachers appointed to that school were paid a small differential. But there was status. There was definitely status. I think people saw it as an opportunity to push their career forward in a whole range of ways. Is that still valid today?
Dr Tobias —I think so. I think it is an excellent point you have hit on there. It would keep teachers in the classroom and maybe even returning to the university to undertake higher education, like a master’s or PhD program. But they would stay in the school, which financially they are better off doing than coming into the university. It does raise the stakes and it does add more credibility to a program. From our investigations, we believe that collaboration is the way to go, certainly with practicum. But it is about a close relationship, not just dropping somebody off from the car as you are driving past when they go into the school. It is actually working hand in hand with the classroom teacher and with the student teacher as they undertake those practicum studies.
Mr SAWFORD —It is a way of removing the $1,200. In those days, it came in with a salary component from the education department.
Dr Tobias —I might add that, as Jennifer said, schools are extremely busy. There is a lot of unease out there. Teaching is quite a difficult, challenging job nowadays. Likewise, if you have a teacher who is not quite up to scratch or a student teacher that actually takes a lot of nurturing—some teachers do not have time to do that—it is not plain sailing all the way.
Dr Sheed —I think one of the things that would be really important with that concept would be to have a greater focus on learning. My memory of demonstration schools from Sydney university in the 1970s is not a good memory in many ways because my memory of the teachers in those schools is that they were absolute control freaks. I would have a concern about people who were demonstration teachers who did not really have a good understanding of how students learn. So if there was a diversity of models that students could tap into in terms of working with Indigenous students and working with students in low socio-economic groups and things like that, and we recognise diverse models of good teaching, I would feel a lot more comfortable with it. But I do not see it as a valid substitute for actually paying teachers in schools for what they do when they take on our students. We really want them to give them something and deliver something. I think that really does have to be funded. I agree with Steve that we need a close collaboration with schools. We need many things. We need many diverse models, I think. There is not just one answer to all these issues.
Mr SAWFORD —No. I understand that.
Mr BARTLETT —I have a question about the ability and preparation of primary teachers to teach mathematics at the primary level. Earlier we had Dr Ingvarson from ACER suggesting that there was a real inadequacy in that area and that in selecting trainee teachers we ought to see whether they have done a component of mathematics, even to the point that they have a maths unit in their HSC as a prerequisite for teacher training. Yet the gentleman from the AEU said that was not an issue at all and that in his experience nearly all teachers in the classroom are teaching maths very well at the primary level. I would be interested in your views about the quality of the teaching of mathematics at the primary level and the training and the prerequisites for that.
Dr Tobias —I am a maths education lecturer. I do work with the primary and the secondary cohort. I will contextualise it a little bit for you. You can have DipEd students who have had a three-year undergraduate degree in mathematics or science or whatever—a related field, but it is certainly at least a minor in mathematics discipline studies—who still cannot tell you some fundamental grade 3 mathematics. They do not understand it. They have learnt it in an algorithmic way. They have been very good at that. They have just repeated or regurgitated that sort of information when it came to the exams. You need to know more than the mathematics. You need to understand the mathematics when you ask a question like how many halves are there in three-quarters. A mathematically trained person will go for an algorithm and look for a rule. A good primary school teacher will go for a picture, concrete material or another way of actually dealing with that sort of task. Basically that is our point: I do not think they need more mathematics. They need more quality mathematics education and lots of experience to nurture that.
From our experience, primary teachers generally are female and generally come from arts sort of subject areas in their VCE and usually have poor attitudes towards mathematics. So there in itself is a huge problem for us in our teaching of mathematics. That is where we need to address it. I do not think doing more maths as a discipline is going to solve that. In fact, it could make the problem worse. It is actually nurturing those students through the mathematics in a contextual way so that when they are learning, they are actually learning how to teach as well. They are learning to teach and to learn about the mathematics. That is the way we do it at Bendigo.
Mr BARTLETT —So do you think that is happening effectively? Are you turning out good maths teachers even from students who have not done any maths at senior high school?
Dr Tobias —I feel sure that we are doing that and achieving that to a great extent. We are turning students around to in their fourth year actually choosing to do more work in mathematics.
Dr Sheed —One of the interesting things coming through the four-year course is that about 20 students do the mathematics education subjects. They also take the mathematics discipline in the maths department. They are being hired preferentially because of that background in secondary schools to teach mathematics in the junior secondary areas. There is something about that nurturing and that confidence in their ability to do mathematics and to teach children how to do it that somehow the regular graduates coming through secondary courses do not seem to have. So I think there is something really important happening there. A lot of maths educators would say that.
Dr Heywood —In the one-year DipEd at Bundoora, we have people who come in with a self-confessed maths phobia. When they overcome that and realise they actually can do maths and, what is more, they can get that light of understanding in their students’ eyes, they become very enthusiastic mathematics teachers. So actually finding they can do something they used to be frightened of is very empowering. I think we are doing well. I support what Steve said: it is an issue but it is one that we are actually working on successfully.
Mr SAWFORD —I come from the other end of what Steve was saying. I have a tertiary qualification with a distinction in mathematics. I went out teaching for four or five years and suddenly realised, after being exposed to Professor Zoltan Dienes from Canada one year, that I knew sweet bloody nothing about mathematics. It comes the other way as well. A lot of people who have high qualifications in mathematics do not know anything about mathematics either and particularly, as Stephen explained so well, the teaching of it. It was not until four or five years into my teaching career that I suddenly had to start learning again what mathematics was all about.
Dr Cartledge —One of the other key issues we are dealing with here is that we are looking at it as a linear progression from university studies to teacher education. I would suggest, quite different to the undergraduate model at our Bendigo School of Education, in the School of Educational Studies there is quite a deal of a lag between when they have finished their formal studies and when they take up a teacher education program. I think too we cannot just look at what is embedded in an undergraduate degree program as being indicative of what is going to come out the other end for maths education.
Ms LIVERMORE —There has been some reference in previous hearings to the idea of the overloaded curriculum for teaching students at universities. Do you have any views on what is in the curriculum and whether you would regard it as overloaded? Is there anything that you think could possibly be left out of it?
Dr Neville —I could make some comment. I have been in this teacher education business for more than three decades. Over that time, I have regularly engaged in arguments about whether a one-year teacher preparation program is sufficient and whether you can you fit everything in and so on. I think the kind of compromises that we make are at least fair ones. It is largely a matter of raising issues and giving basic technique. The arguments for saying that there should be a two-year preparation would suggest that after two years at university people are better teachers than people who have spent one year at university and one year in the classroom. I think we need to see teacher education as the beginning of the process. In Victoria, there is provisional registration for the first year, desirably with good mentoring. The question of the overloaded curriculum is something that is addressed over two years rather than over one.
Dr Heywood —I think I will add to that. There is certainly a lot that we have to deal with. You cannot deal with every issue, but you can alert people to ways of handling the issues that are likely to arise. I think once they are in the classroom, that is really when you bring all your learning together and you apply it in the context that you are working in. With good mentoring, that should be really good.
Mr SAWFORD —I want to ask one last question which follows on from what Kirsten was saying. Who decides what is in and what is out in the courses? How often do you change them?
Dr Tobias —A course coordinator would hold annual reviews at least twice a year. They would hold a review with students. This is what we have decided to do in Bendigo with the BEd. There are annual reviews from students and staff to consider the health of the course.
Dr Cartledge —We are also largely driven by an accreditation process for teacher registration. We need to be bound by their rules and regulations and requirements.
Mr SAWFORD —What sort of responses do some of the students give?
Dr Neville —To the content or the process?
Mr SAWFORD —Both.
Dr Heywood —You will be seeing some of our students this afternoon, if they can find their way here and get through the processes.
Mr SAWFORD —We will put that question to them.
Ms LIVERMORE —I want to follow up on that. Do your partner schools have any input?
Dr Heywood —We invite the schools to inform on a regular basis us about what they think a student teacher should know. We have meetings with the principals. We invite them to come in and talk with the students so that we keep in touch with what schools are requiring. But the accreditation process has been supportive of where we go and what we put in. In particular, for instance, they are very keen to have an ethics component in the course. We have sort of touched on ethics, but with their input we are really focusing more heavily on an ethics component, clearly, and decidedly there is an ethics component.
Dr Neville —The accreditation process with VIT demands that the course is structured to a particular template which covers particular content. VIT is not terribly concerned with how we do this but needs to be assured that we do cover what is regarded by the VIT and this accreditation committee as the necessary components of effective teacher education. On top of that, we have ongoing dialogue with the people in schools and we have ongoing evaluation by our students.
CHAIR —Thank you for appearing before the committee today. We may contact you if we need to seek further information. The secretariat will provide you with a proof copy of your evidence as soon as it is available. The transcript will be placed on our web site.