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Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training
06/03/2019
Status of the teaching profession

BROWN, Ms Claire, National Director, AVID Australia, Victoria University

CARR, Dr Nicola, Program Manager, Bachelor of Education, School of Education, RMIT University

CROSS, Associate Professor Russell, Languages Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

GRAHAM, Professor Lorraine, Learning Intervention, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

HARRISON, Dr Colin, Private capacity

INGVARSON, Dr Lawrence, Private capacity

KING, Ms Clare, Private capacity

O'CONNOR, Mr Michael, Schools Outreach Manager, Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, University of Melbourne

WALKER-GIBBS, Associate Professor Bernadette, Education (Pedagogy and Curriculum), Deakin University

WATTERSTON, Dr James, Dean, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

CHAIR: These are legal proceedings of the parliament. Many of you have been to these before. They are proceedings of the House of Representatives, effectively. The giving of false or misleading evidence can be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence today has been recorded and you will receive a transcript later to make sure we are not attributing comments to you that were made by someone else. Whilst typically we will have you make brief introductory remarks, at a roundtable your first contribution is effectively your chance to do so.

In the last two days we have been in Brisbane and Sydney. We head to Adelaide tomorrow and then regional Queensland on Friday. So it is an intense program, but that is part of our commitment to making sure that this is finalised before what is potentially an election in a couple of months. We don't want to prorogue and leave the report half done and at the mercy of a subsequent committee that may or may not want to complete this one. So we hope having these expedited program hearings will enable our work to be completed.

What we have discovered in the last two days is that there are significant burdens on teachers that are affecting their ability to deliver the highest quality teaching that obviously everyone aspires to. We have evidence that it is around 55 hours a week both in states and also internationally. But we don't have a clear picture on what kind of work is taken home and why, the proportion of the workload imposed on teachers that is elective and voluntary and the proportion that might be purely related to teaching and that might be more focused on reporting. We haven't seen much evidence around what can be reassigned or actually eliminated. Different states take different approaches to this challenge of teacher workload. We are keen to learn more about the division of teaching and assessment of progress and the conflict that may exist where effectively assessment becomes a form of learning in and of itself and the cross-benefit of other roles and role reassignment and who can actually help a teacher to do some of these things. A great paradox may be that the teacher is still the most efficient deliverer of some of these administrative tasks simply because others can't do it as effectively as the teacher but we then still have that burden upon the teacher. Then finally there's the great mystery of the noncognitive measures of our students.

So we are focused on data collection. What are we collecting? What's being made public? How is that corrosive to the reputation of teaching and the way that the community at large, which generally loves its local teachers, may have different thoughts about the teaching profession. All of these linked together affect things like someone electing to become a teacher and remain a teacher. We have concerns about the career progression for teaching and, at the risk of generalising, the lack of involvement in research as a way of advancing one's teaching career and the opportunities for both a collaboration of evidence that can be accessed by teachers and their ability to contribute to it in a peer reviewed fashion. These questions remain unanswered having been to two states already. We had some useful workforce surveys. One was from your neighbouring state. But a lot of these other questions are proving to us to be extremely opaque.

With that summary of where we are trying to head, if any of those issues grab your thoughts in particular we invite any of you to start. Particularly, Dr Watterston, as our host, you might like to give an overview of your views on our inquiry.

Dr Watterston : I thank the committee for being here today and acknowledging that Melbourne university is hosting this opportunity for people to contribute to your work. We are certainly privileged to be able to do that. As you are aware, we provided a submission and made a number of recommendations. We don't propose to go over all of those today.

The area that I would like to touch on it goes to your comments, Chair. As you would remember, I spent a lot of time prior to being the dean here in school systems and running school systems, most recently in Queensland. I want to make some comments about your comments about the work of teachers. I think the direct influence on the capacity of teachers to do their job is quality of leadership. From my understanding over the last two decades of visiting around 2,000 schools and being front and centre in leadership development, I want to point out that over 4,000 of the 10,000 schools in Australia are rural and remote schools. Most of the principals of those schools are inexperienced and, in quite high numbers, first-time principals. I think it is a major problem in Australia that we don't invest nationally in the preparation of preservice principals. We spend a lot of money on professional development when people are in the role, but if we could improve the quality of leadership by training principals prior to their appointment and having them committed to the leadership that works I think we would change the trajectory of outcomes in Australia. So I think that if there were any possibility of focusing on the quality of the teaching and learning through the support they get from high-quality leaders then we could certainly do more in that area to boost the performance of all schools and the system.

Prof. Graham : The issue that I'd like to continue to speak about, following on from Jim's introduction, is that teachers and our most vulnerable learners are both benefited when skilled teacher aide or paraprofessional time is deployed in the classroom effectively. This relates to the custom and practice in many ways of supporting those students who might have a disability or learning difficulty. It can be said that the work of the teacher is being done, in some instances, by a teacher aide or a paraprofessional. If we take a different approach and we really look at the effective deployment of paraprofessionals, then you're starting to get at some of the issues that you raised at the very beginning of our experience here about how the workload and the human resources can be deployed somewhat differently. This does cut across to leadership again, because, really, for all people in an inclusive school, you really need the orchestration of services throughout that school so that the most vulnerable, the brightest and the people who are having difficulty just at this time have access to what they need so that their learning and their behaviour and their experience at school becomes positive, and this is not only for the students but also for the teachers. In terms of the effective deployment of teacher aide time, there certainly is a need, as we've outlined in our submission, for improved training and credentialing. What has happened with nurses aides in Australia serves as one model of how credentialing can build to possible pathways to teacher education.

Secondly—and, again, this speaks to leadership and the way that a school is really working—scheduled time for collaboration between teachers and teachers aides is extremely important in making sure that the teachers aide is, perhaps, looking at the learning of a group of students while the teacher is working with the most vulnerable learners in the classroom.

Last is the idea of rethinking how teacher aides are deployed. This is one way that resources can be thought of slightly differently within school contexts. As Jim has said, it does come down to leadership. Leadership is also important in terms of language—Russell.

CHAIR: Russell, before you progress, are there strong diametric views on this issue of teacher aides?

Prof. Graham : Are there strong diametric views?

CHAIR: Opposed to what you're proposing.

Prof. Graham : One of the issues is that sometimes parents see that the support of their student, should their student have a significant disability, is linked to a teacher aide being assigned to such a student; that is seen as the way for that student to thrive in the classroom. There has been a lot of work in the UK. The UK almost doubled the number of their paraprofessionals through Jim Rose and his work. But closer examination of the effectiveness of paraprofessionals in the UK—Peter Blatchford is the researcher in particular—showed that, in many ways, it seemed to not support the student with a disability and social integration. Also, it could be sometimes seen as someone who is helping too much and not fostering the independence and the learning that we want for all of our students.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. Professor Russell Cross?

Prof. Cross : Thank you. I want to pick up on the themes that have come up with the points made by Dr Watterston and Professor Graham. But, at the start, I also want to speak to those issues that relate to burden—the burden on teachers and also the burden of leadership on schools and principals to try to find everything that they need to accommodate into the curriculum. As we were reading the terms of reference, one of the things was to think about how certain innovate solutions that we've been working with here at a systems level in Victoria might have potential more broadly, and one of those is in terms of languages education. Australia has had struggles with languages. On the one hand, it's highly specialised, so it has been treated as an add-on that schools somehow have to fit in on top of all of the other core things that they do. I'm very mindful that I read the submission by the Applied Linguistics Association, who made that point, but they also recognised that that creates even further burden. So there's a bit of a paradox there. At the same time, the other problem that I think Australia struggles with for young Australian learners is just finding relevance and purpose. Why would we learn a language in Australia? When you're nine, 10 or 11 years old it just seems so pointless. It is finding that buy-in.

One of the solutions, building on the strong research base from the UK and in Europe, where it has been very, very successful, is to think about how to recontextualise new pedagogies that don't treat languages as an add-on to the curriculum but bring them into what schools are already doing, using content and language integrated learning.

We've got a number of schools here in Victoria that have successfully started teaching, for example, science through Japanese, at Glen Eira, and Italian and humanities, at Gladstone Park. We have that happening at the primary school level as well. So the students are achieving the same outcomes, and in fact the research often shows that, when it's done well, the students do as well as or better than learning the same content in their mother tongue, because teachers are forced to reconceptualise—not just tell students the knowledge but actually build the knowledge with them.

We've been doing this with the department of education here. It's been successful. One of the reasons the system has found it attractive is that it's no longer doing Japanese as yet another thing that school has to do; Japanese is done alongside the creative arts; Italian is done alongside mathematics; German is taught alongside STEM. The Goethe Institute, for example, have invested quite a lot of money into STEM through German. They've been looking at the Australian Curriculum and developing teaching materials to assist teachers to teach those two things together. So it's not more time out of the curriculum but thinking how to reconceptualise what teaching and learning look like around concepts and language and bringing those two things together.

That's been one of the solutions that we've been working on here, but it speaks to how leaders are struggling to accommodate everything that they need to get through in the school day but also how to address those problems where it just seems pointless for a young learner to learn Japanese or Italian. But, when they're actually learning science through Japanese, they're still getting the literacy, the cognitive benefits, the thinking and the problem-solving skills that come from learning a language but they aren't just talking about sushi and shinkansens.

Mrs SUDMALIS: Do you have a Japanese teacher teaching science or a science teacher learning Japanese at the same time?

Prof. Cross : Because of the way teacher training works in Australia, all languages teachers do have another method. At Melbourne, for example, if they've done a Master of Teaching in language, they'll have language plus science, language plus humanities. So they're just bringing the pedagogies and the knowledge from both of their two majors together.

Mrs SUDMALIS: That would also prevent a teacher from only getting a 0.2 per cent allocation to a job.

Prof. Cross : Yes. It tries to get away from that fragmented approach, to thinking: 'Here's your profile as a teacher. How do you bring those two things together?'

Ms LAMB: I assume that that's built on a view that we have in early childhood, about learning through play. We learn literacy, numeracy and science all through play, instead of it being an add-on.

Prof. Cross : Exactly, and the ELLA, Early Learning Languages Australia, initiative is a great example of how the technology aspects, digital literacy, are being taught through additional languages.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : My field of expertise is pedagogy and curriculum but mostly initial teacher education. My particular expertise is in rural education. I have a particular passion for rural and regional and how we can work with teachers in all contexts. So I will have a bit of a bent towards that, I will admit. In my research I've been part of a team that has worked on the two biggest teacher education research projects in Australia. One was an ARC Linkage on studying the effectiveness of teachers, and the other was the Longitudinal Teacher Education Workforce Study, which was led by Diane Mayer. With some of the ways that we talk about initial teacher education, I guess my representation is: how do we fit in this conversation? Often teacher education, or initial teacher education, is seen to be the bullet for what comes before and what comes after, and somewhere something happens in between that is never quite the right solution. So it is about trying to find our voice and our place within that. A lot of the work that we talk about with that, and when we work with that, is about the next bit and what happens once they leave us, as well as what happens when they come to us and what do we do there, looking at the teacher education, the teacher standards, and what they tell us and they don't tell us and how we work with that.

One of the parts of our submission that we focused quite a bit on and that I think that we will focus on today is this idea of the mentoring and induction that happen both within preservice teacher education and afterwards. I think we can see that as an issue, alongside the increasing casualisation of the workforce that we are seeing outside. We work a lot with graduate teachers, where they're consistently not being employed in anything other than short-term contracts. One of the issues that we have when we talk about standards of teachers or quality of teachers is that, depending on where they are—this is where we come back to context—they don't necessarily have access to mentoring or induction in all of the contexts in which we employ teachers. One of the issues with that is not only do they not get to practice and work through and refine and stand on their skills; they are also not able to further their careers and move from provisional to full teacher registration status. We've got examples at Deakin with the national body for disadvantaged schools—sorry, I've forgotten the name—and we have students who are trained in preservice teacher education who want to work in these rural, hard-to-staff schools, but they go into those school systems and there are not enough mentors to go around. Most of the teachers employed in those sectors are graduate teachers, so there are no experienced teachers, or very few. They're not always in rural communities. Sometimes what you see in an urban context is that they're rapidly changing workforces and they're growing and they just can't keep up with the demands of the new student cohort, so they employ graduate teachers, and we don't have access to experienced mentors. In a rural context it's more likely they will be assigned a mentor in another community, but then the mentor teacher doesn't get access to time release and nor does the graduate teacher, so they don't get an opportunity to work with the mentor. There are those sorts of things.

Ms LAMB: What are graduates' expectations of their profession? What are they expecting of pay, professional development and employment status? Going to that, how significant is the employment status of contract in the decline in retention of teachers?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : I'm glad you asked that question. Part of my new world is working with the Victorian education department on graduate teacher conferences. We've been delivering conferences to graduate teachers for professional development to basically foster graduate teacher communities within each area in Victoria. We've collected data from all the graduate teachers that attended the conferences last year and will attend this year around some of those things that come up. Consistently they say mentoring and induction. Once they get employed—so they get employed on a contract—they go into these school systems where they have learnt how to be a teacher and they feel that they're being judged 24/7 and they have to comply to the school culture rather than try and develop their skills, so they become very disillusioned. They're not being employed, so they can't get loans—

Ms LAMB: If they accept that the nature of having a contract is going to be the nature of employment when they graduate, do they also expect that, at some point, there will be security of employment and they will transition to permanency?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : They expect that, but after six months they don't expect it anymore and they become very disillusioned and then there is a big emphasis on teacher wellbeing. Depending on the school context—this is where context is really important—if the school culture is such that it's not very supportive, the teacher wellbeing and mental health issues are increasing in the school sector. They do expect they'll get employment, but it is not necessarily translating. An issue we have in rural communities is that in the past teachers would move to rural communities in order to get their first job. But if they're only getting contracts they're not as prepared to move anymore. So mobility patterns are shifting, and that is going to become increasingly a problem in rural areas, particularly when we think about out-of-field teaching.

Ms Brown : I'd like to pick up on two points that have been mentioned in your opening statements. One is around a related issue in terms of workload and burden on teachers. I think a correlating issue is that, in raising the status of teaching, we must also look to raise the quality and status of education policy. A lot of the structure of education departments and the burdens being placed on teachers are sometimes, to teachers, unnecessary and burdensome and getting in the way of their classroom practice and time. It's an under-researched area and it relates very clearly to the issue of the quality of teaching and learning.

The second piece I would raise is around professional learning. We saw last week that the Victorian Auditor-General released a report that found that a significant amount of money is being wasted on snapshot one-off professional development which doesn't improve teaching. We need to offer sustained, collaborative, practised, focused professional learning. It happens over time. I think that, just as we place students on a continuum of learning over 13 years or so of school, we should reconceptualise the role of teachers as people who are on a continuum of learning on the art and craft of teaching. So, rather than call them first-year-out teachers, let's call them fifth-year-out teachers, sixth-year-out teachers and seventh-year-out teachers and then model that continuum of professional learning, just as we expect students to be on a continuum of professional learning.

CHAIR: Thank you. Clare King.

Ms King : Hi. I'm a primary school teacher. I've been teaching for 15 years and I'm dealing with the education system as both a parent and a teacher. In answer to your question, Andrew Laming, about what I am doing after school, I was teaching grade 2 last year and I was delivering over 40 different assessments over a semester to seven- and eight-year-olds. I would have to triangulate all that data. Some of them were actually tests that had to be marked manually, so I was doing that at home. I was doing planning documents that were 12 to 20 pages per week, because that was the expectation of the principal, and it had to be linked to learning intentions and success criteria. So I was doing that after school and on weekends. I had to then collect huge portfolios of student work that was passed on to the next teacher, which had to be all assessed and correctly folded. I had to upload data on to Google Drive for assessment and triangulate my data to write huge reports. So I was doing constant busywork. I was replying to emails from parents, even at three o'clock in the morning, because they didn't like what happened on an excursion. I was doing IPLs for one of my students who was in a nappy and also for my autistic child, Felix. I was having to do plans for them every week, with every single lesson in detail linked to their IPL. I then would have to go to all these school events. We had two staff meetings per week: one on a Monday morning, when I would have liked to get ready for my classes, and the other on a Tuesday evening, which was supposed to go to five o'clock but nine times out of 10 would go to 5.30. It just completely takes over my life. It's absolutely pointless. Once the Australian teaching standards were linked in, I then had to spend hours collecting evidence of how I was proving that I was linked to all the standards, and I had to provide student work samples. Then every year I get interviewed and I have to provide all that evidence.

I want the Australian government to follow the UK lead. They have very clear messages that are three-minute videos. Did you watch those?

CHAIR: Yes.

Ms King : They explain to teachers that they don't have strict guidelines on how to plan; it's up to them. They don't have strict guidelines on how to mark and collect data; it's up to them. In fact, the evidence shows that feedback, rather than manual written marking, has more of an impact on student learning and that parents should be informed that the teachers are not lazy if they're not correcting all the work; they're actually providing higher quality lessons. I had no time, when doing 20 pages of planning documents, to get my lesson resources ready. I was missing resources in my maths classes. It was absolutely crazy. I hang out around a photocopier constantly. I've got students who come in and say: 'I've done this, Mrs King. What do I do next?' I've got no textbook to open for them. I've got nothing. Every week, thousands of photocopied pages or materials have to be gathered. What I've seen over the years, since I began teaching in 2004, is that it's just gone absolutely crazy.

CHAIR: It's corrosive. Thank you for the way you've described it, and thank you for the videos you sent through from the UK. One of the messages that were really powerful for me was that you're required to lesson-plan for the benefit of your students, not to fill out forms for the benefit of your employer, necessarily. Trying to identify the differences is really important, so thank you. Please comment again as we go through the roundtable. Dr Harrison.

Dr Harrison : Good morning. I'm not representing any organisation; I'm here as a private individual today. There have already been several very good points raised here. The nature of my own submission to this inquiry was rather high level. It won't connect necessarily specifically with questions you raised at the beginning, but I would like to pick up on a couple of points, particularly Claire's presentation, and say that it seems that the overarching problem that's causing this kind of teacher overload or burnout comes, at least in my perception, down to a very fundamental conception of how to drive a system like this and the basic policy levers that are put in place to do it. I suggest what I would call a top-down compliance driven model is deadly in the context of education and producing the kinds of problems that a couple of my colleagues here have already put their finger on.

The quality of any education system rests squarely on the shoulders of its teachers and the extent that those teachers are empowered, supported and treated with respect and treated as individuals who are competent to establish how best to relate to their individual students, because ultimately, no matter how many students you have, teaching is an individual conversation with each of them. The ability to act based on their own expertise and to decide what is necessary for individual students and to be supported in doing that will bring up the quality of teaching. I would also tie into that the question of remuneration, which has already been raised.

I draw the committee's attention to the model of Finland, which is often cited in this context. The Finnish model I believe does have a lot of merit to it. They raised the bar of education in the 1950s—I believe that's when that program began—and they raised the remuneration levels to above OECD standards. The outcomes are generally considered to be extremely positive. Teachers in Finland feel respected, feel empowered and feel trusted to undertake the critical and socially very important role of education. I don't think you can lose if you create a structure that empowers teachers to that degree and which puts the whole education profession in a positive light, which, therefore, empowers students. If you empower both sides of the equation, you can't go wrong.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. Dr Ingvarson?

Dr Ingvarson : I'd like to reinforce in passing what Claire and Colin have been talking about. I've now left ACER but recently we conducted three workload studies in three states—Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. These were massive surveys of teachers about workload. Undoubtedly, the results of those surveys show the current workload with heavy compliance requirements. As some teachers said, an obsession with data is interfering. Teachers said that they're not in a position to teach as well as they would wish. Principals particularly can't focus on what they say the standards say they should be focusing on—building strong professional communities—likewise because of sheer loads to do with compliance. Anyway, that said, I think the workload issue—

CHAIR: What was the participation rate from the surveys across states?

Dr Ingvarson : Very high.

CHAIR: How much?

Dr Ingvarson : Certainly representative. These were major surveys—14,000 teachers in Victoria and 3,000 teachers in Tasmania. They were big surveys. These surveys are available on the ACER website. I recommend them to you.

My focus is, I hope, more as I see it centrally on what this inquiry is about—the status of teaching as a profession. As I've gone on at some length in my submission, the major threat to the status of teaching in Australia is the lack of recruitment policies that are able to ensure teaching can recruit sufficient numbers of high-calibre, high-quality students to meet the demand. We are in a downward spiral with respect to the status of teaching, and have been for nearly 30 years. There's a downward spiral in terms of the attractiveness of teaching, relative salaries and workload. That downward spiral is leading to the perception amongst our most-able graduates that teaching is not the profession to choose. Twenty years ago, may I say, I presented at a Senate inquiry into the status of teaching—the Crowley report; A class act, it was called. As part of that inquiry, the senators carried out a study of career choices amongst high-ability graduates from high schools, and it showed that they were not choosing teaching primarily simply because of status and salaries.

So I reiterate that a major threat to the status of teaching and the future of the quality of Australia's education system is the current failure to address the recruitment problem. That in part is linked to the importance of placing greater value on it. If you want to lift the status of teaching, we must set up systems that value high-quality teaching. We do have a national certification system—embryonic, still, I think—for giving recognition to highly accomplished teachers. I would emphasise to you the importance of making that system work, giving it full support. That is a national certification system for certifying teachers who attain high standards. That system needs a lot of improvement. The argument there is, at least, the recruitment. If we going to do something about the recruitment problem, ultimately, the responsibility rests with government. Yes, the teacher education faculties have been irresponsible in taking in poor quality students in large numbers, but we can't blame them entirely for the fact that teaching is not attracting sufficient numbers of high-quality students.

We must sheet home actually to ourselves, to our society and to our governments as representatives the importance of making sure teaching can compete with other professions. Recruitment policies over the last 20 years have been what I call passive. We just hope that the numbers will turn up and enrol in courses. We've got to change that downward cycle into an upward cycle and that cycle is only going to go upwards if we start to place a much greater value on high-quality work and offer salaries and career structures that really are attractive to our high-ability students. I think it is total responsibility. We should be asking our governments: what are your current policies for ensuring that teaching can compete with other professions? When we look at medicine, medicine does not have a recruitment problem. Teaching has a recruitment problem. Why? We do not make the obvious link as to why teaching has a recruitment problem, but, in order to solve the recruitment problem, it's not about the salaries at the beginning. It's the salaries later. What our able students look at are the salaries in the career pathways that they will get to eventually—

CHAIR: And I see a couple of hands going up. That's a point that we've picked up every day of this roundtable. Dr Carr, did you want to jump in?

Dr Carr : I've been a teacher educator now for 15 years, and my concern lies very much with early career teachers or graduate teachers. I'd like to echo a number of the points that our colleagues on this panel have mentioned. In my discussions with our graduate teacher network, not once has any teacher who's left the profession in the first five years talked about salary as the reason that they left. They leave for a whole range of other reasons that are linked with workload pressures and with the emotional and physical burnout of teaching. It seems that schools are increasingly being asked to take on responsibilities that once upon a time were society's or parents' responsibilities.

I have graduate teachers reporting to me that they are dealing with 11-year-old and 10-year-old girls with eating disorders. They are having to deal with prep students who come not having any idea how to clean their teeth or toilet themselves. And these are not children with disabilities; these are just your average, everyday preppy kids. I have teachers who are supporting children as young as grade 1 and grade 2 with anxiety disorders. They are not prepared for that, nor do the standards that govern what teachers are supposed to do mention any of these kinds of pressures that are placed on our youngest and most vulnerable teachers.

One of the other startling and disturbing reasons that they cite for leaving is bullying. I hear from graduates who have wonderful mentoring experiences and feel highly supported and part of a fantastic school culture, and that talks to the point that Jim Watterston raised about the quality of leadership and how schools are structured and organised and supported. Compare and contrast that with graduate teachers who have an expectation that they will be valued as graduate teachers because they bring with them into schools the latest in research and evidence based practice, but the reality is, when they start to try and question entrenched practices, they feel that they are then bullied by more experienced teachers who resent the young upstarts coming in questioning what the practices are in those schools, and that becomes really demoralising. When you put that on top of the short-term contract casualisation of the workforce, they don't see that it's worth it. But they don't do it for the money.

CHAIR: That's really helpful, thank you.

Mr O'Connor : I'm here representing the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. We're based on campus here at Melbourne university. We have three divisions, one of which is schools and schools outreach. At present, we have eight outreach officers who are working in 120 schools around the country. They are working in areas as diverse as Logan in South Brisbane, Mackay, Roxby Downs, Karratha, and Newman in WA. We work with both primary and secondary teachers, and our prime focus is the support and upskilling of teachers from prep through to year 12 in mathematics.

A lot of what I've heard this morning I would echo—particularly, Nicky, your last point about bullying or the inertia of experienced teachers saying, 'This is the way we do it.' Even our team, who have an average of 15 to 20 years worth of teaching experience in the classroom, find it very hard to move things forward with the work that we do. Our approach to professional learning is in situ, so it's in the schools and over the long term, so we're building a relationship with the teachers in the schools and moving things forward. An example of some of the things we see, though, is the amount of churn in teachers at particular schools. It's not uncommon for us to have seen two, three or four principals in the space of a year move through some of the schools. It's not uncommon for us to see 50 per cent turnover of teaching staff within a year. We see those sorts of things.

My own background is that I was a teacher of maths and science for 25 years, and I've been working now in this role for six. I've seen probably a couple of hundred schools that I've worked with personally as well as in the team. We see that ongoing education and ongoing professional learning is vital. We see that there is a large degree of out-of-field teaching in secondary school. We see that there is a large amount of maths anxiety amongst teachers from prep through to year 12. I can recount one particular occasion where I was working with a grade 1 class at the very beginning of the year, and, five minutes into the class, I had a young boy who couldn't have been more than six who came up to me with tears in his eyes saying he hates maths. He's only had 12 months of schooling and that's come through already.

CHAIR: Okay. We might just jump to a question.

Ms LAMB: I'll go back to Dr Carr. If we accept that the data shows that somewhere between 30 and 50 per cent of our graduates leave in the first five years, and that for the most part these are graduates who do school, go to university and then go straight back to the classroom—they haven't gone off and had another career and come back—at what point, and why, are we losing teachers who get past that five-year mark? Is that when it becomes about salary, leadership positions and career progression? Or is there a—

Dr Carr : My view is that prior to that five-year period it's got nothing to do with career progression and salary; it's to do with quality of life and work-life balance. Post the five years, if teachers have stayed within the profession then it becomes much more of an issue about, 'I've done this much; where do I go from here?' The career structures and the possibilities are extremely limited for them. They look at friends and colleagues in other professions who, by that stage, have had a multiplier effect applied to their commencing salaries, and teachers don't.

Ms LAMB: Can you comment on the impact on females, in particular, post that five years, going into those roles—principal or one of those leadership roles? Is it disproportionately women who aren't moving into those roles?

Dr Carr : My experience is primarily in the primary sector, which is dominated by females, so it's not so much an issue. Certainly, it is more of an issue in secondary schools, where leadership is more heavily dominated by males. But in my field it's not as big a barrier around leadership.

Ms LAMB: Dr Watterston, did you have something you wanted to say?

Dr Watterston : Yes. I have some research about the proportions you were talking about. One of the things we pat ourselves on the back for in education is that in terms of the gender breakdown in senior leadership positions, it's about fifty-fifty, depending on the state you go to. It could be a little higher for female-male. But 80 per cent of our teachers are female, and so, proportionately, we don't promote—and certainly to the more senior and larger secondary or primary schools. So, while it's not so obviously identified as such, there is a gender balance problem.

But I think that goes back to the point I was trying to make before: we do not prepare teachers to become leaders. Just because you're a good teacher or a good deputy—if you have that chance—doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to make it as a leader. I think the gap in Australian education is the identification, preparation and leadership training for people who can then aspire to the job.

The last point I want to make is, having been in systems more recently, that it is very difficult to get people to apply for those jobs, male or female. In rural areas, and certainly in Queensland, the further north you go then the more it's acting principals—people with great commitment and great goodwill—doing the job, because no-one else will do it. I couldn't give you the exact number, but I recall that at some point in Far North Queensland around 40 per cent of all those principals were acting.

That disadvantages the young people in rural areas and, as I said in my initial presentation, the quality of outcomes is related to the quality of leadership. While we continue to do a disservice to people who go into leadership, and also to rural and remote communities, we're not going to overcome that plateau in terms of student performance that we've got across Australia since NAPLAN was first instituted.

Mrs SUDMALIS: Is that particular aspect of acting principals—which then opens the door for a casual placement—part of the formula as to why there has been increased casualisation? What else is factoring into casual appointments? Thirty years ago, you would often get a 12-month casual appointment, and then within a couple of months you'd be offered a permanent position. Can you clarify what's feeding into the casual aspect of beginner teachers?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : I think that's one of the problems, and I think it comes back to Susan's question as well: we don't have good access to timely data on some of that stuff. We don't always know. Sometimes, if we have a massive growth corridor, they're just trying to keep up—they're not really sure of the demographics or what's happening. Or teachers go on maternity leave or stress leave. There are lots of different reasons, and so they can't employ people. They don't know the changing nature of the population, so they don't necessarily know what subjects are going to be taught or selected or whether they can attract the teachers that they need to those areas. Also, an issue in a lot of the rural and regional areas is out-of-field teaching. They can't necessarily get people who are suitably qualified.

CHAIR: Can we assume that an acting person is not on the career path to become a principal?

Dr Watters t on : No, you can't assume that, and, in some ways, that's their first foray into leadership. It's kind of a dual pathway. A lot of people don't enjoy the job because they're not able to access the resources they require and they're isolated in rural communities, and then others progress.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : They might be the only person there or it's the teaching principal and them, and they suddenly become the deputy.

Ms Brown : There's also an underlying assumption here that teachers naturally want to progress to be a leader, and they don't. Good teachers just want to keep getting better at the art and craft of teaching.

Mrs SUDMALIS: And not have to do all the paperwork?

Ms Brown : That's exactly right.

Ms King : That's why they're leaving.

Ms Brown : If there were career progressions that were alternative pathways—and I know Dr Ingvarson has done a lot of that work throughout his career—we could reward good teachers by keeping them in the classroom and allowing them to continue to develop the art and craft of teaching. That includes things like giving them an opportunity to have a sabbatical after seven years and go somewhere to learn more about some aspect of teaching and learning that they would like to develop some detail around. But let's not assume that every good teacher wants to become a leader, nor that they will be a good leader just because they're a good classroom teacher, nor that we shouldn't be accommodating other pathways for them.

CHAIR: Pulling in Dr Ingvarson, regarding the Singapore model of these professional learning communities that are driven either by leadership experts or by subject matter experts, you've kind of got to be one or the other, haven't you, to be able to move up in that matrix?

Dr Ingvarson : Ms Brown is right. There has been a need for some time to re-conceptualise leadership altogether in schools. The research emphasises what's called instructional leadership, with an emphasis on teaching and learning and building professional communities. The kinds of people who can offer this kind of leadership—instructional leadership—are expert teachers. So we need a career pathway that attracts our best teachers through a certification system, highly accomplished, into teacher leadership. We need to think of opening up opportunities for the kind of educational leadership that's attractive to teachers and helps them to emphasise and prioritise working with other teachers on instructional improvement of teaching and learning, not purely administration. The situation we have at the moment is that people, when they get into leadership positions, have impossible workloads to do with administration, compliance et cetera. So we need to think of leadership in schools as giving equal status to teacher leadership or instructional leadership as well as administration.

CHAIR: We look at these studies, but it's not clear to me what can be removed from the workload. They describe the workload as engaging with parents or connecting with students one to one, but there's nothing in here telling me what's on the chopping block potentially to free up time for teachers. These big studies actually aren't giving us that answer.

Dr Ingvarson : Compliance is the biggest problem. Principals currently say, 'What stops you doing the job as well as you would like is compliance with'—

CHAIR: This study just tells me 93 per cent of teachers agree. It doesn't actually tell me how much compliance they're doing.

Dr Ingvarson : Which study is that?

CHAIR: This is the New South Wales one, and you've done the other three.

Dr Ingvarson : I'll put you on to our three!

CHAIR: But we're trying to get to this point: what are teachers actually doing between seven and nine o'clock in the morning, before school, and is it what they think is the best use of their time?

Ms Brown : That comes back to the point I was raising about education policy and relates to Dr Ingvarson's point about—

CHAIR: And Ms King's point about sitting in a meeting for an hour.

Ms Brown : Absolutely. If you want to take students on an excursion, how many pieces of paper do you have to fill in—

Ms King : So many!

Ms Brown : and how many permissions do need to get? The schools that I work with through the AVID program are now telling me it takes them six weeks just to organise an excursion to get a group of students to go to a university so that they can see what that's like.

CHAIR: Dr Watterson, maybe we can have an excursion factor, which is a measure in each state and territory of how long it takes to organise excursions administratively as a reflection of the admin burden overall. It might be a useful proxy.

Ms Brown : It would be.

CHAIR: The excursion factor.

Ms LAMB: Ms King, the purpose of this inquiry is to look into the profession and the future for the profession. We know that one of those key areas we need to look at is attraction and retention. To dig down into the root of this, as a recent practising teacher—are you still practising?

Ms King : I'm casual relief teaching and tutoring as a way of coping with the workload.

Ms LAMB: Thank you. One of the pieces of evidence that was presented to us in Brisbane was the fact that, in the early years, students overwhelmingly choose education as their possible career pathway. I think it was early in high school that they identified it, second to sport, as being what they were interested in. By the time students were leaving year 12, only 8.8 per cent of them were thinking about teaching as a career. Can we get from you a real-life experience? Why did you choose this pathway?

Ms King : Everybody in my family are doctors, but I chose it because I value education and I wanted to make a difference. But I talk to a lot of my colleagues now and we are having this discussion that teaching isn't about teaching anymore. It's not what it used to be. We've got no freedom, no autonomy, no room to develop collaborative professionalism. This message is filtering out across society that teaching is not a good profession anymore.

Ms LAMB: At what point did you—

Ms King : I watched it slowly happen.

Ms LAMB: At what point did you say, 'Actually, this is not what I thought I was going into'?

Ms King : Probably in the last two or three years.

Ms LAMB: So after you had graduated and—

Ms King : And I'd been in the classroom for a long time.

CHAIR: To pick up your point, there wasn't some interpersonal experience where there was an overbearing supervisor or something that tipped you? It was just an accumulation of conditions?

Ms King : Yes.

CHAIR: The second part is: if you were to survey teachers and say, 'Who is planning on possibly leaving the profession in the next 12 months?' and additional supports were available for people who self-identified as pre-empting being in this at-risk group, would you see any benefit in doing that?

Ms King : I watched two other teachers—so there were three of us that left at the end of last year—and it was primarily because of workload.

CHAIR: It's a hypothetical, but can anyone see any benefit in—

Ms King : Paraprofessionals aren't going to help. We can get all the work done as long as we are given the freedom to streamline it.

CHAIR: And to the others: if we can pre-empt people who identify themselves as being at risk of leaving, is there really much one can do if the system itself can't be reformed to retain teachers that are on the precipice?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : With the graduate teachers network—I was speaking to Clare earlier—having a collegial group of people you can talk to certainly does help, but it doesn't fix the issue of what you do. Having that information about why they might leave might not help you immediately with them, but I certainly think having access to better data would help. One of the issues that I have with some of this conversation around recruitment—this relates to that conversation—is that we want to attract the best and the brightest, and the default conversation around status usually equals academic excellence. But then they go into the school systems and that's the last thing that we're talking about. We're talking about workload; we're talking about children. The word 'child' is very absent from a lot of this conversation. Where is the child in this room that we are thinking about? Clare doesn't get to see her children anymore. They're just documents. I've worked with the elite program in this country and worked with those graduates. Those teachers are the best of the best academically, but they go into school systems where the children don't love maths. They don't love anything; they can barely get out of bed some days. These absolutely excellent graduates don't know what to do with kids who don't love learning. They know how to teach them the subject that they have always loved and excelled at throughout their entire lives. You can recruit them and attract them, but what are you going to do with them when you get there? That's why you've got to find out why they're leaving.

Mrs SUDMALIS: In that regard, if Clare did not have the same onerous burden of compliance and completion of paperwork and lodgement of documents, she would surely then be freed up to think: 'This particular teaching strategy isn't working for this cluster of children. I could maybe try this one.' From being an ex-chalkie anyway, I know I hated the paperwork at the end of the year. I had 280 students I had to write a quarter-page report on, in triplicate, and that was pretty much—

CHAIR: That's going back!

Ms LAMB: Yes, I know. That was as much as we had to do, except in the semester and quarter-semester times. Your workload, with all that paperwork, which actually could be melded into one system—which isn't being melded into one system—teachers who love teaching and love their subject never signed up for paperwork. That's somebody else's job.

Prof. Walk er-Gibbs : Teachers would take the burden of paperwork if they could see what happens afterwards. Like Clare said, she's got a mass of folders of data on students for her principal, and she can't see what happens after she collates that data and how it directly benefits the student right in front of her, crying.

Mrs SUDMALIS: The simplicity of that is, when you have a transitional student who's got difficulties, you talk to the teacher who had them last year and say, 'What do I need to watch out for, for that kid? How best can I teach them?' And those two people will have a conversation about that child, quite literate, quite short, and the next teacher says, 'Right, I know what to work on.' It doesn't need a folder full of paper.

Prof. Walk er-Gibbs : And trusting our teachers to have professional standards and know what they're doing.

CHAIR: On the subject of professional standards, a lot of you unis will know your LANTITE pass rates. I'm quite surprised that in Victoria there are significant discrepancies between universities that weren't as obvious to me in other states as they were here. Aren't teachers starting to prepare for the possibility of a LANTITE and the possibility of not passing it, and is there tutoring done on the side to teach one how to pass a LANTITE? Secondly, do these pass rates include people who have sat and resat the test? When I see a pass rate of 90 per cent, could someone interpret that for me as to whether that includes resits in the denominator and numerator?

Prof. Cross : We've done some research in collaboration with Monash on this one, and it's very interesting. The initial pass rate is about 90 per cent, 90 to 95 per cent. But the most interesting part is that, statistically, for every subsequent resit, the likelihood of passing is more than 50 per cent. So, by the fourth resit, you, more than likely, are still going to get in. So there's that whole question about that. Lawrence has written extensively about this as well. The difference between selection and recruitment is that we can put these LANTITE tests in place—and there is tutoring popping up, there's a commodification of teacher education around preparation for the LANTITE. But, ultimately, it isn't making any difference to the cohort profile, because they will get in.

One of the things that has stuck with me today was Clare's comment that so much of her work as a teacher is busy work, and the work of a teacher should be producing learning outcomes. Why do I do research? Why do you do your parliamentary work? Why does anyone do the work that they do? It's because they go into it and can actually see, for a teacher, learning happening. Why do people leave? It's because they aren't seeing learning happening because they're being distracted by all these other demands. Then we have the problem of: why aren't standards rising? Standards aren't rising because learning isn't happening, and teachers are so busy doing compliance work. I think, in terms of the policy work that could go into this, it's really about rethinking what the bureaucratic structures are that could better enable teachers to do their work and be accountable, but with that work producing learning outcomes as opposed to filling out folders.

Ms King : Could I quickly raise a point. My daughter in grade 1 was suffering from a lot of test anxiety because of the multiple tests she was taking every week. Some of them were online; some might have been spelling tests. There's a whole shift. I told you how, for seven- or eight-year-olds, I was doing 40 tests in a short period of time. It's affecting the students as well.

CHAIR: With respect, the closest school to my life has a 99 per cent NAPLAN sit rate. Kids don't know they're sitting NAPLAN in year 3. They're just told it's an activity. My child didn't even know they'd sat the test.

Ms King : It may depend on whether or not it was a younger teacher that was mentioning that it was a test—

CHAIR: Adults create stress around this—let's remember that. But in this testing I wanted to ask about new technologies. Renaissance and WEA are bringing out this rapid and acute benchmarking that is effectively taking pressure off teachers. They distribute devices—so a quick login. The kids play around on an iPad and 20 minutes later there is a highly acute progression assessment through every element of literacy and numeracy, and a report to the parents. And right into that zone of what you need to know next in fractions is done highly interpretively, with questions that have been asked a million times. Is this the new NAPLAN killer that's going to move in and empower teachers to separate learning from assessment?

Effectively, assessment happens in a reasonably short snapshot of literacy and numeracy, but fairly rich information is certainly provided, and we trust it's accurate. Is this going to take some pressure off the hour and a half spent going student by student, trying to work out exactly where they're out? Can technology help?

Mr O'Connor : There are so many issues with the technology. They've tried to bring in a number of things. Here in Victoria they're starting to trial online exams in the VCE. Essentially it comes down to the fact there are a number of bottlenecks in the technology, and if one of those falls over you end up twiddling thumbs and getting frustrated because either the school's internet hasn't worked or everybody's on it at the same time because they've got to try to administer year 7 and year 9 at the same time for NAPLAN and the pipes aren't big enough. You've then got the issues of the providers and all the rest of it. It sounds good in theory, but it's still not at a ubiquitous level.

CHAIR: These providers would argue there's not a question asked that hasn't been asked of a million students, it's all been fully standardised and tested with multiple cultures so it's as good as it'll get. Are we ready for a trial?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : Where's the teacher judgement? Where's the teacher? Where's the context?

CHAIR: Without touching on this comparison of education and health, which is quite frustrating, I come from big data on the health side of things and no-one bats an eyelid at standardisation. You go in an MRI and it gives you information. It doesn't tell you the whole health of the patient; it's a test for a specific purpose, just like a blood test. So why are we that nervous about standardisation and, indirectly, data? If it's not good data, there are people trained to work out good data from bad data. But at the moment you're getting no data except for a gut feel, which of course the GP was told 30 years ago is not a way to treat your patient load.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : It's about that too, but it's also about not having a standardised curriculum in every context. In a rural context you have to talk about an Indigenous perspective and you have to talk about access to museums and galleries and stuff. There's no common data or experience that you can standardise with that stuff. There are certain things that you can look at in terms of literacy and numeracy. But across the curriculum we're a state based system still, and not all states and territories teach the same thing in the same kinds of ways in terms of content. It's tricky. We've seen that with Pearson publications and their authentic teacher assessment models. People who don't have any kind of educational background or pedagogical knowledge are making assessments about teacher performance as well as about learning performance. It's all right to say that if there's been that educational input, but that's not always guaranteed in these systems when these providers or these recruitment authorities and recruitment providers that we see coming increasingly into our spaces don't actually provide the information at the back end of the technology.

Ms Brown : If I can respond to your point, an MRI on a head is the same whether you live in WA, New South Wales, Queensland or Victoria. However, if you're testing students' literacy you may give them a picture of a kitchen scene and there's a bowl of cherries on the table and toaster in the corner—

CHAIR: Or food from another country.

Ms Brown : in Wangkatjungka Remote Community School, three hours by a Cessna from Broome, that means nothing. It doesn't test a child's literacy if they can't recognise a bowl of cherries on a kitchen table. So it's a little more nuanced.

Mr O'Connor : Also, when you have an MRI you have a pathologist who is trained to actually pick out the bit that is important for the MRI, not a GP. The GP gets a report of it. You're expecting classroom teachers to be able to pick out all those bits—particularly in primary school, but it goes up as well in outer field. You're expecting individual teachers to then have enough background knowledge to be able to go, 'That's the issue, this is the fix, here are the connections.'

CHAIR: To diagnose and treat from the findings.

Mr O'Connor : Yes, and you'd don't have that. The difference with health with standardised tests is that it goes to a specialist who can read that and inform from there. You don't have it.

CHAIR: Maybe we do need it, then. It raises two quick questions. The next one is the ability within teaching training to interpret data and understand research. Is that is sufficiently embedded in the current education curriculum that has absolutely no flexibility or electives?

Mr O'Connor : Again, from a mathematics point of view, in order to interpret—

CHAIR: Is there stats training of sufficient level?

Mr O'Connor : No, I don't think there is. It's better than it was. But, coming back to mathematics, it's not just about interpreting what this means. It's not about interpreting the box-and-whiskers that you get in NAPLAN and those things. It's about knowing enough of the connectedness of the subject to be able to go forward. You were talking before about the LANTITE test. Now, looking at the numeracy side of those, that expects a prep teacher—and, I think, rightly—to be able to work with mathematics to a year 8 or 9 level. There's a whole lot of them who aren't, and there's a whole lot of primary school teachers who got into primary because they avoid mathematics necessarily. Again, it comes back to that whole point about anxiety. It's not about: what does this piece of data say? It's about: how do I then make all those connections and have the wealth of background and support to be able to put in front of students learning opportunities that will get them passed?

CHAIR: It's a very good point, and just a related one, possibly, for ACER as well. Do we know the proportion of students going into education faculties who have advanced maths at year 12 level?

Dr Carr : Can I comment on that? As an institution that seven years ago raised its entry requirements from year 11 mathematics, which was pretty common across all Victorian universities, to year 12 mathematics—

CHAIR: Which maths?

Dr Carr : Anything but—

CHAIR: The applied level.

Dr Carr : Anything—special maths, general maths method.

CHAIR: So it's the second of the three tiers of maths?

Dr Carr : Yes, not the third tier.

CHAIR: There are actually four tiers.

Dr Carr : Not the third tier. I can't remember what its name is. That made not one iota of difference to the results and the capabilities of our students when it came to their maths and numeracy pedagogy subjects. It makes absolutely no difference. This gets back to the question about retention and recruitment—particularly recruitment. The ATAR debate is such a misleading debate. My best graduate teachers would no longer get admitted to the program that I manage. They would not get in anymore, and what that ignores is the potential growth of people who are passionate about working with children—who, by the way, Andrew, with all due respect, are not pathogens. Context is really important, so applying a medical model to learning and to little human beings is just misplaced.

CHAIR: It's a useful professional comparison because, obviously, school leavers are going to be choosing between a health career and an education career.

Dr Carr : Let's make another professional comparison about what you pay a radiologist and what you pay a school teacher.

CHAIR: You pay the same to a radiographer; that's the group we're comparing. I only do it as an illustration, really, of our attitudes to data, because—

Dr Carr : It's pushing some buttons.

CHAIR: Yes, true, because health is extracting huge amounts of public data to develop algorithms to run their MRI machines, but we're super-reluctant to release any education data to allow the same thing to happen.

Mrs SUDMALIS: Because it's different.

Dr Carr : Because children are not pathogens. They will always be contextually bound, and a pathogen isn't. That's the difference.

CHAIR: I just want to hear your reaction. Secondly, also, I appreciate that whether you did maths or not makes no difference to how well you perform in your program, but it may well affect whether you become a teacher of maths or the likelihood of choosing that as a pathway or choosing a maths-dependent specialty as a graduate.

Dr Carr : Every primary school teacher is a teacher of mathematics. In fact, one of the core problems that we have in our country with mathematics is that primary school teachers are so anxious about maths that the vicious cycle of maths anxiety continues.

CHAIR: Victoria University, we'd love your view on this issue of the importance of maths, because that was an important contribution.

Ms Brown : We're in the process of doing a three-year study on primary school maths teaching, and I absolutely concur with my colleagues. The problem is that the majority of primary school maths teachers, who are female, don't like maths, don't have a concept of themselves as mathematicians and don't have enough content knowledge or pedagogical content knowledge to teach maths. That's what we have to address in order for them to become more confident and competent mathematics teachers. It's the language that they use when they're talking to their young children or to parents when they dismiss maths and say things like, 'It doesn't matter,' 'I'm not a mathematician,' or 'I don't use math either.' But, actually, when you give them an activity where they're calculating the sale of a house and how much they can afford it, that's real-life maths. So there's a big issue around that.

CHAIR: I'm not saying you need to have advanced maths to be a primary school teacher, but I'm wondering whether, within the corpus of teaching entrants, there are sufficient people with maths grounding or no phobia about it to meet the needs of the profession.

Mr O'Connor : No. The definition of the moment of in-field teaching is one semester at second-year level. My director, Professor Geoff Prince, and I put out an occasional paper in November last year dealing with this specifically, and we have other things.

CHAIR: Could you email them to us tonight so that we have them.

Mr O'Connor : Yes, certainly. We went through and did a modelling exercise. Third-year mathematics graduates around the country are roughly 1,200 per year. That's the total for the country—1,200. The retirement rate of maths teachers around the country at top level—year 12 and secondary schools—is 1,500.

CHAIR: Please send us that paper. That will be of great use to us.

Dr Ingvarson : The research totally supports setting very high academic standards for entry into teaching. We conducted an international study in 17 countries on the preparation of mathematics teachers—primary and secondary. There is no doubt whatsoever that, among the 17 countries, the countries with high student achievement in PISA and TIMSS were countries that set very high entry standards and made sure that they recruited people with strong academic backgrounds. That implies, I think, that here in Australia it is perfectly reasonable to say: 'If you want to go into primary teaching, you should have reached certain high standards in mathematics and English at least. These are core things that you will teach. These are core expectations.' We don't want to turn our teacher education programs into remedial programs making up for what they should have learned for entry. That's a waste of time. The research totally supports recruiting the highest academic quality people. But it is a necessary condition, not sufficient.

Ms Brown : That comes back to the status piece, where there is a general societal issue. I'm a third-generation teacher, and my son is currently training to be a teacher, and I'm very proud of that. But, when my dad graduated 50 years ago as a teacher, it made page 3 of The West Australian newspaper. Such was the prestige of the profession, whereas my son is now already saying: 'I'm not sure, Mum, if I know enough to be able to take on a full-time teaching job next year. I'm really nervous.' So there's a whole lot of anxiety that he's experiencing now, and we need good young male primary school teachers in the profession. He's already saying before he enters that he's nervous about his preparation.

CHAIR: Do individual faculties like yours have, after the first year of teaching, a genuine focus on encouraging your students to consider a STEM major, including a maths major? We have this plethora of HPE teachers and biology teachers coming out the other end for some reason. What's going on inside that black box of education faculties that creates this frustrating mismatch with what's actually needed the following year?

Mrs SUDMALIS: Can I have a crack at that one for starters. There are a couple of things. I don't personally believe that you need the top academics to make an excellent teacher. There are some students who don't quite make it to the top ATAR scores, and they are the perfect candidates for teachers because they know what it is to strive and they know how to translate the academic language into learnable language for students, which is a critical skill. Partly our problem in this country is that we have state and federal levels, so we can't follow the Finnish model because they only have one level of governance. So that's a problem. But part of the problem is that maths, science and technology are moving so fast that people feel that they're inadequate to teach those subjects.

CHAIR: Good point.

Mrs SUDMALIS: This is an evolutionary perspective on teaching. Back in the day, the teacher was the fount of all knowledge and the child was the sponge. I don't believe that that is the model that should be in place now. It should be that the child is the sponge but they have the capability of reaching out and soaking up their own water with good guidance by the teacher as a learning facilitator rather than being the only source of knowledge. If any teacher who is in developmental stages now sees themselves as a facilitator of learning instead of being the one who has it all, it will change the way they teach and give them the confidence to know what they're doing. I think that's the problem with maths and science; it's going too fast.

CHAIR: So you just go into teaching, already almost ruling out maths and coming out the other end? Or is it—

Mrs SUDMALIS: I don't think we can do that either.

Mr O'Connor : In Victoria you are given accreditation to teach as a teacher; you're not, unlike in New South Wales, a teacher of mathematics, or a teacher of science or those sorts of things, so there isn't that difference.

Ms LAMB: Oh, wow—I didn't know that.

Mr O'Connor : I'll go back: teaching is a profession about relationships. You are relating to other people. You need the background knowledge and skills to be able to put the things together, but it's essentially about being able to connect with other people and transfer what you know and what you love to them. That's the big difference, and you put your finger on it in that respect. That's the critical difference; it's not just about the technical.

One other point: there is no STEM curriculum. There's a mathematics curriculum. There's a science, a physics, a chemistry and a biology curriculum. There's technology and there are things in engineering. But there is no STEM curriculum in that sense, even though I know that the graduate school here is doing STEM graduates and things like that. If you are in a speciality, you're specialising in one of those four elements; don't conflate it as a single thing, because it's not. It's far too complicated to be able to do that in the context of teaching.

CHAIR: Thank you. So the question really is: what's happening through these undergraduate courses to nudge graduates in the direction of what the workplace requires as far as skills mix—

Ms Brown : There is a lag effect on the data, for a start. We have students coming in for a four-, five- or six-year learning journey, and what's needed when they first enter is different from what is needed by the time they graduate. So it's a little difficult. It's not about what they come in with, it's what they graduate with, and it's the learning that universities are able to offer to develop their potential to become good teachers over four or five years.

CHAIR: Do I understand that there are no electives in your program; there's just a fixed series of subjects?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : It depends on the university or the degree. But just to respond to your comment: teacher education is not a black box. It's one of the most regulated professions—

CHAIR: It's a black box for us!

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : But it shouldn't be. We have to adhere to all of the regulatory requirements. It doesn't depends on whether you're doing a primary degree or a masters; it's all there for you about what we do. One of the issues that we have is that federal governments, successively, have spent a lot of money on widening the participation agendas into universities. Teacher education is one part of the higher education sector, so we're also bound by all of those regulatory requirements.

So when you're talking about raising the status and the academic requirement, and about irresponsible entry into teacher education, we're bound by universities as well. We don't always have a choice over some of that stuff. We're in a time period of increasingly segregated skill sectors, and high performance judgement of teachers. We're going to have a system where schools are going to have more problems attracting quality teachers, and those kids at the end of that are going to be even more disadvantaged.

There was a report released yesterday by the Curtin centre, The best chance for all: student equity 2030. It talks about how Australia's future depends on all its people, whoever and wherever they are, being enabled to engage successfully in beneficial lifelong learning. That doesn't say that they benefit from having had the kinds of teachers who look like this. The teachers who come through universities are a diverse range of teachers. What we do in teacher education is to work on things like relationships and contact. They can't come into our sector without having met a standard that's set by you and the regulatory authorities. If that's a problem, that's not our problem. We're doing what's required of us. In terms of recruitment and in terms of what we actually promote about desirable options to professions, sure we can promote that. We do that, and we do that in lots of different ways. But if you've had terrible experiences with maths and stuff like that in school, it's too late by the time you get to university; you need to fix that at the primary level; you can't fix that at secondary or tertiary.

Ms Brown : In addition to that, in a research project we did a couple of years ago I was working with some teachers, and one of them said to me: 'Can you please not call me a teacher? It's demeaning.' Therein lies the heart of the problem—the lack of respect for teachers and the work that they do is a societal issue. That's something that we have to adjust, because being a good teacher is rocket science. Again, when I hear people say, 'It's not rocket science; it's just teaching,' that demeans the profession so much. So there's a societal piece around reinstating the level of regard.

Ms LAMB: Thank you, Ms Brown; at each of the hearings we've heard that around that occupational status and the perception of it. I made note yesterday that it's neither helpful nor healthy when the media only wants to report the NAPLAN results and pits one school against the other, without considering professional judgment that should be applied. When looking at, celebrating and talking about the profession is not on the front page of The Courier Mail or The Australian but what's front page is, 'This school's failing, and this school's no,' it's not helpful or healthy.

Can I ask a real nuts and bolts question, because we're taking this inquiry around the country to get a sense of the real national picture of the teaching profession. In relation to students when they're doing their practicum, what is the number of days somebody does in a classroom over a four-year period?

Ms Brown : A minimum of 80 days.

Dr Carr : A minimum of 80 days.

Ms LAMB: So that can vary, though—upwards, of course?

Dr Carr : Yes upwards.

Ms LAMB: Where is best practice happening, and what is that number of days?

Dr Carr : We were having a conversation about this while we were waiting for the panel. It's not the number of days that's so important; it's the quality of those days and quality of the experiences that are occurring within those practicum or professional field experiences. What we're seeing in that professional experience space is a new phenomenon called mentor fatigue. Universities are now required to partner with schools to place their students into partnership schools. So partnership schools are saying, 'Yes, we'll take more students,' or, 'We'll take your students,' and what we find is that the classroom teachers who are mentoring the preservice teachers are saying, 'Enough'. So we've got some mentor fatigue. We'll also have an enormously variable experience; just as a great classroom teacher may not make a great school leader, a great classroom teacher does not always make a great mentor for preservice teachers.

Ms LAMB: Is there a financial allowance for that?

Dr Carr : Minimal.

Ms LAMB: How much is it in Victoria?

Ms King : It's $26.10 per day.

Ms LAMB: Has that increased at all over the last five or 10 years?

Ms King : No, not really.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : In some models the school gets the money and uses the money in different ways with professional learning or different areas. But it has not increased a lot. Unions are probably the better people to talk to about that.

Ms Brown : I think I heard a stat that, because of that mentor fatigue, less than 40 per cent of schools are prepared to take preservice teachers on placement now. So you've got six or seven universities who all have preservice—

Dr Carr : Eight universities plus some vocational education colleges.

Ms Brown : They are all competing for these less than 40 per cent of opportunities to place teachers.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : We also have courses online; so our students could be anywhere. So even though we might have eight universities in Victoria, we've got students everywhere, so that places more pressure on us.

Prof. Graham : This is different in the Graduate School of Education because we have networks of schools and we've worked really hard with clinical specialists and at relationships, trying to address that mentor fatigue aspect of things.

Mrs SUDMALIS: At the University of Wollongong they employ a tutor who actually does participate in the tutorial program. They're also paid a minimal amount of money to be the mentor supervisor of the student while they're in the school for that very reason—because they could vet them and they have some control over the standard of mentoring. It is quite successful.

Dr Carr : You'll find that there are increasingly different approaches being taken by universities to explore the nature of the school-university partnership around professional experience and the preservice teacher experience. Regardless of that, those models can be quite expensive; the clinical model is a particularly expensive model. All of those models where you're trying to provide more support to schools to mentor your preservice teachers cost universities more money, and our fees are not being increased—or government funding for those programs is not being increased.

Ms LAMB: I'm very keen to hear a little bit about different parts of the sector. In Queensland the independent schools reported that, while they had seen a small decline over 20 years, the retention rate of a teacher in a boarding school was incredibly high. What I'm keen to hear about is in different parts of the sector are there areas where retention is quite high and why?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : I know that sometimes retention is not always a desirable thing. I will declare I'm a North Queensland girl, and when we did the SEDI project, when we were working with the Queensland government on that, they didn't necessarily want to just look at retention—so just keeping teachers—because sometimes teachers in certain parts of Queensland, for example, are there because they just want to stay where they are. But they stay in the schools and they stay in the systems and they don't necessarily engage in professional development and engage in learning. So it's not just about keeping them there; it's keeping them actively engaged as professional learners. The ones that are the best at doing that are the ones that actually foster those professional learning communities, the school cultures and the network, while working with their communities, getting to know their parents and engaging their parents.

Ms LAMB: So you're saying it's not so much about the sector; it's actually about the culture—

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : And the community.

Prof. Cross : One example that struck me recently was that an independent school approached us to run a program we run for the state through the Bastow Institute. At first I thought, 'When they see that the cost of this program, they're going to say no.' They saw the cost and said, 'Yes, that's what we want to run.' That speaks to an independence school putting a huge investment into ongoing professional development for a cohort of teachers to learn together over six months. So why do certain independent schools have high retention rates? It's the investment in ongoing professional learning. Those teachers felt rewarded; they felt they were challenged; they were being pushed in new ways.

CHAIR: If I'm correct, the salary isn't that different?

Prof. Cross : The salaries are probably the same.

Ms LAMB: Although they do have the added financial support through parents as well.

CHAIR: And more parental preventative support as well.

Dr Carr : I think what we're dealing with here is a really wicked problem. It's really complex. When you ask questions around, 'Is there a set pattern?' or, 'Is there this pattern?' we ignore the fact that schools are individual organisations. Particularly in this state, they're individual organisations, they are largely self-managed and they're self-governing to an extent. The differences are not sectoral; they're individual school based. So I could give you half a dozen large public schools—government schools—that have a similar attitude to an independent school and have similar retention rates of their graduate teachers. So it's not a sector thing. It's a school by school thing. It gets back to the original point that Jim made around the quality of leadership and the culture of that organisation.

Ms LAMB: Does it also go to the point that Ms Brown made which is we've got a real societal problem in valuing education?

Dr Carr : Exactly.

Ms LAMB: Both in the profession and in the community?

Dr Watterston : Can I just make one more point to add onto that, because it's been worrying me as I sit here knowing that you've been going around the country; I know that the problems are different depending on who you're talking to and the circumstances. If you cut up any PISA data or year 3, 5, 7 or 9 NAPLAN data you'll find it is very clear all the way through: metropolitan area schools perform really well, rural schools perform less well, isolated schools then perform less well, and the really remote schools are at about the same level as North Korea. If we were able to segregate that, metropolitan schools right around the nation—the eight capital cities—operate at about the Finland level. My only point—and this is why I just wanted to make this point even though it as obvious as it must be—is that we have some of the best schools in the world in Australia in public systems in each state. So some of these problems of practice that we've talked about and you've undoubtedly explored over the weeks that you've been involved in this need to be focused on independent and localised solutions.

But also—and this for me is a fundamental problem of practice—how do we extract that high performance from the schools that are able to deliver it? I do think it's related to leadership. But how do we extract that and share that? That's more the problem, rather than creating new solutions, because the solutions are there.

Some of your conversation, Andrew, has been about the IT systems that are in place. I've seen amazing public schools in Queensland that have Microsoft working with them to collect that data and make independent judgements. We've got pockets of excellence. Part of our job now is to is to grow the pockets of excellence and use the expertise that already resides within the systems, because it's there and it's world class. We keep dropping in Finland, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore and the way they train people. We've got it. We just haven't got the consistency of approach.

I think, Ann, you talked about the different levels of governments. While we continue to have the Commonwealth making priorities for systems to get Gonski funding, when the systems are making priorities and then the schools are making priorities—that is Claire's point—you're just raining priorities, and then the teacher's got their work to do. We're doing it well. That's my only point.

Ms Brown : Good point.

Dr Watterston : We just need to find that and use those solutions to grow the whole of practice.

Mr O'Connor : Collaboration not competition.

Dr Watterston : You've got competition in league tables with NAPLAN. You set up competition automatically. What you want is to collaborate so that everybody benefits.

Ms Brown : We also have a big problem in that we don't have a good mechanism for recording where there are effective strategies in place and making those visible and available to other schools in other states or elsewhere. We don't have a repository where we can collect evidence of good practice and have that available for other people to be able to use and refer to, which comes back to the systemic piece again. Every education department in the state is busily reinventing the wheel, and we're wasting a lot of money. If we could bring all of that good research and effective examples together somewhere centrally and people could look at that and learn from that, that might be a little more efficient.

CHAIR: Everyone seemed to move on from the quantitative. What are some of the benchmarks we could use for both students and schools that aren't NAPLAN? Who's developing them? Do teachers support them? Finally, why don't we do customer satisfaction surveys 12 months after each class and see what students and parents thought of the teaching experience in the previous 12 months? Ultimately, isn't it about student feedback?

Dr Carr : Students are already surveyed in Victorian schools about—

CHAIR: It may not be public data. I would just like to check that.

Dr Watterston : I think it mostly is.

CHAIR: Good.

Dr Watterston : Certainly schools in Victoria use their data in annual reports—teacher, parent and student data.

CHAIR: Are you certain it's publicly reported? We don't—

Dr Watterston : Until not that long ago, I was a regional director, and it was very publicly available at that time.

CHAIR: In Queensland?

Dr Watterston : In Victoria.

CHAIR: Yes. Do you remember from Queensland?

Dr Watterston : Queensland's got data that the schools are happy to use. I'm not sure that every school puts it in the same format in its annual report. But it's certainly not privatised data.

CHAIR: I've scoured those reports, but I really can only find information like carbon footprint, student attendance rates and a little bit on staff turnover.

Mrs SUDMALIS: What were you going to say about the data that's collected from students?

Dr Carr : Just that schools collect that every year. Year 9 students complete—I'm not quite sure what the other year levels are. Year 5? It's been a while since I've—

CHAIR: It's just whether it's publicly available or not. That is the question we'd like to check.

Dr Carr : That's a question that in Victoria you'd have to put to the department.

Ms Brown : You were asking about non-cognitive data, so an attitudes-to-school survey, for example, which is done in Victorian schools. That survey is given to parents, to students and to teachers. It's not publicly available, and even accessibility to the schools is dependent upon different education department releases. But there's an equivalent of that in just about every state. Again, it's a bit ad hoc.

CHAIR: I'm sure. The lack of publicity is the issue. Ofsted obviously is highly public. But what we found quite compelling is that the odds of teacher attrition are strongly linked to Ofsted categorisation. Inadequate schools, pejorative as it sounds, are a very high indicator of a teacher leaving the profession.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : I think that that's probably the issue that we've been raising. There's very little consistent access to good-quality data, so trying to work through that—but also I'd just caution some of that stuff around when you talk about 'underperforming schools' and then remind that we're in a time of increasing segregation of the school sector. We're talking about fairly disadvantaged school sectors that are going to be heavily impacted, depending on how we collect this data. So we need to be really mindful that we're not getting data and it's going to be the least able in low-SES schools and school sectors. The ways in which teachers and parents are choosing schools now are creating problems for the seriously disadvantaged, and we need to be very careful of that. There are recent reports coming out of the national centre for higher education around—

Ms Brown : To your earlier point about the misuse of data by media and other areas—

Prof. Graham : Yes, that's the scary thing.

Ms Brown : the more data you have that's public, the more careful you have to be about how it's used and abused.

Prof. Graham : I should say too that there are some advances in putting together databases and evidence bases for practices that have support. Social Ventures Australia has evidence for learning, and the Centre for Program Evaluation had some work in the initial phases of that. It's now joining with the endowment fund in the UK to do another big trial of putting together a usable database of evidence for learning for teachers.

CHAIR: We referred to non-cognitive measures, so maybe ACER has a view. Moving away from purely academic assessment, how are students being assessed at the end of their school journey around the non-cognitive measures? The Singapore American School works extremely hard to identify some of these non-cognitive measures and have students select the ones they're actually going to work on and be assessed on.

Dr Ingvarson : Are you talking about entry to teacher education?

CHAIR: No, just purely, here, how you would assess student performance either at university level or at school level around non-cognitive measures, not just literacy and numeracy, for instance. How do you broaden assessment into non-cognitive fields? Would it be a profiling or a ranking?

Dr Ingvarson : It certainly wouldn't be a ranking if you're looking at personal attributes or personal characteristics that you want to develop. Assessment of students in non-cognitive areas is not an area of my expertise, but—

CHAIR: Geoff Masters has written about that.

Dr Ingvarson : I know that there's some important work going on in that area, so I won't comment on that. I presume that your main concern is to come up with recommendations that will lift the status of teaching. I'm very interested in how you're tackling your central purpose, which is to lift the status of teaching.

CHAIR: The question was to move away from purely assessing a teacher by a NAPLAN score that's achieved and to broaden into other measures that the teaching profession may be able to develop as complementary measures, for instance.

Dr Ingvarson : With all the NAPLAN and quality testing and the compliance—although I have just left an organisation whose reason for being is testing and helping improve testing and quality assessment—a central problem is that you're more likely to emphasise compliance and testing if you don't trust the profession, teachers, to be competent to assess. I think you were alluding to this earlier on. The facts are that, when we have done surveys of teacher education programs, they are weak in terms of preparing teachers to be really proficient assessors of student progress and learning. There has been a de-emphasis on assessment in teacher education programs for some time.

I think it would be a very important recommendation to say that we need across our teacher education programs some concerted effort by teacher educators to come together and agree on a national curriculum for teacher education. That is not in that kind of standardising sense but at least to come to some agreement about what a beginning teacher should know and be able to do in a whole range of areas. There is enormous variation across teacher education programs. Some will have programs specifically designed for teaching reading—teaching reading as a course. Some won't have any. Some have about five semester units on teaching mathematics. Some have none. The variation is enormous. I think we should start to ask our teacher educators to get together and come to some kind of agreement about a curriculum about what beginning teachers should know and be able to do. It's not enough to have graduate performance assessments. When we were doing a background report for the TEMAG review four years ago, we were asked to benchmark Australian teacher education internationally. We said, 'We can't do it, because we don't have any reliable measures of what people coming out of our teacher education programs know and can do.

Prof. Graham : With regard to that—

Dr Ingvarson : We don't know what they know about recent research on teaching reading. We don't know their level of mathematics or their ability to teach mathematics. We have very poor quality-outcome measures of teacher education.

CHAIR: You've provoked a response.

Prof. Graham : Yes, indeed, Lawrence. We definitely have standards that we have to show in the accreditation of all teacher education programs. That is true across all of our institutions. It is rigorously checked and it is rigorously shown in our planning where things are taught, assessed and practised. We are very accountable to the AITSL standards and the Victorian Institute of Teaching.

CHAIR: What proportion of your graduates last year are credentialled to teach math?

Prof. Graham : Where is Larissa when I need her?

CHAIR: Either primary or high school.

Dr Watterston : We couldn't give you that

CHAIR: I imagine it would vary by university and program, and there's no problem with that. But are there any signals or nudges that try to assist final year students to meet the needs of the workforce, when they're told nobody got a job last year in my field.

Prof. Graham : I can respond for our program. In the MTeach there is a primary emphasis that you can take in STEM and maths. You can do that sort of a pathway—

CHAIR: Did you say primary?

Prof. Graham : Yes, in primary. That came from the ReMSTEP project. Certainly in the secondary it is taken very seriously.

Dr Carr : As part of the accreditation process, there are prescribed numbers of units that primary teacher education programs must comply with. There must be a certain number of science units, literacy/English units, numeracy units et cetera. Every curriculum area must be covered as well as general education studies and pedagogy studies. As our colleague Michael said earlier, STEM is actually not a curriculum area. So despite universities wanting maybe to offer a specialisation in STEM, the current AITSL requirements act against that. That's one issue in primary.

CHAIR: Fractionating it into these fields.

Dr Carr : Yes. The other requirement on primary teacher education programs is that we must offer specialisations in particular curriculum areas or discipline areas. Those choices must be evidenced in the accreditation process by reference to stakeholder demand and employer needs. Every university that is offering a primary teacher education program has to provide evidence that the curriculum that they're offering is reflecting the needs of the employers. When schools are saying, 'We want more STEM qualified teachers,' we put up STEM and then we're told by the AITSL proxies through VIT that STEM is not a discipline area—sorry.

CHAIR: But math is. Can you tell us how many high-school math teachers graduated from each of your faculties last year.

Dr Carr : I can't.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : We could get that. We have that data.

Dr Carr : We could get that for you.

CHAIR: Do you have a gut feeling?

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : There wouldn't be a lot, but that's one of the issues—the gaps.

CHAIR: I imagine it's going to be more in some faculties than others, so Melbourne's offering probably a few more.

Dr Watterston : Sure.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : You ask what we do in the final year to encourage them. We can't. If you're doing a master of teaching—

Dr Carr : It's a bit late by then.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : you can only do maths if you have an undergraduate in maths. So we can't as teacher educators actually encourage them to do anything other than the discipline that they are accredited to do.

CHAIR: That's been chosen at the second year of the undergrad.

Dr Carr : No.

Prof. Cross : It's the entry.

Prof. Walker-Gibbs : Yes.

Dr Carr : If you're doing a postgraduate teacher qualification in secondary teaching your methods are determined by the discipline that you did as your undergraduate degree, which may have been 10 years ago. In terms of our institution, the number of maths graduates depends upon the number of people coming into the program with a maths discipline background who choose to be a teacher.

CHAIR: Plus the undergraduates that choose—in the same batch.

Dr Carr : At our institution we don't offer an undergraduate secondary program.

CHAIR: I didn't realise that. We're doing final comments, which are not mandatory to make. But if you think a topic hasn't been covered and you want to put it on the record, and possibly follow it up with an email, as a result of today's discussions, now's the time to make a quick 30-second intervention. Otherwise we'll be winding up. I don't see anyone jumping out. We're very, very grateful to have everyone here. We know you've taken time out of your day jobs to be here. We're very grateful for that, and it's been a huge help for us to be here in Melbourne and at the University of Melbourne. Dr Watterston, thank you very much for hosting us.