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Launch of National Institute of Quality Teaching: Parliament House: 3 June 2004.

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Launch of National Institute of Quality Teaching Parliament House

Thursday 3 June 2004, MIN723/04

Brendan Nelson:

When Sir John Cornforth rose in 1975 to accept the Nobel Prize for Chemistry he paid tribute to one person amongst all others, and that was the late Lenny Basser. And Lenny, of course, had taught the Honours Chemistry class at Sydney Boys High School for thirty one years. And similarly toward the end of his life Sir Mark Oliphant, arguably Australia's greatest physicist, when asked about his life and to what he attributed his success, he said "I was lucky", he said "I was lucky because I had a wonderful teacher back in Adelaide called Dr Ray Burden, and Ray had encouraged me away from biology to the study of physics and captivated me and enthused me with even the smallest discoveries in it". And for those of us who are parents, it's not until we are parents that I think we really appreciate the important role, both positive and sometimes negative, that not only we as parents but indeed teachers play in the lives and development of our children. Apart from us as parents it's you and your profession who most inform and influence the kind of human beings that they will become, as much as the thirst for learning and the transfer of knowledge and skills which you undertake.

I announced in July last year that we would establish with an initial $10 million commitment, a National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership. I'd like to thank Gregor Ramsay, Allan Consulting, Deloittes, I'm not big on consultants but I felt it appropriate and necessary in this firstly to make sure we get it as right as we can and secondly because I knew we were going into a political quagmire, to get some independent analysis of what the need might be and how we might reasonably build in both a literal and a policy sense a National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership. It is critically important and Geoff, himself an enthusiastic reader of work that's done by ACR, and also Alan Luke and Bob Lingaurd and others who've written and researched so much about what really counts in education. But Geoff has told us that

there are six key themes to a successful school. A school that enables students to achieve, irrespective of their family, their gender or their socio economic background. The first of those he has identified as leadership, which is at the heart of anything and anything that's likely to ever succeed, and a leadership in particular which deeply roots an emphasis on learning in every aspect of school life. Secondly he said learning. That there needs to be a deep belief that every single child is able to learn and achieve his or her own potential with sensitive and high quality teaching. Thirdly that there needs to be an environment in a school which gives children a sense of belonging, a sense of identity and a sense of purpose. That also schools need to have a strong culture of performance and evaluation, that there also needs to be meaningful community engagement and a high level of parental participation. And last, but not least, the teachers need to be not only highly trained, but very much skilled in the best and most modern practices in relation to the teaching of children.

And so to Ken Rowe, who of course works with Geoff. When Ken did all of his meta-analysis and he took out resources and gender and class size, he found that the single most important impact on the education of children are teacher/student interactions, in fact a 59% variance both within schools and between schools.

Today we're doing something extremely important. We are laying a foundation for the future, and in doing so I know that I am going to be attacked, the Government will be attacked for a variety of things. For the choice of institution, we're going to base the National Institute at the Australian National University, based on the advice of the consultative group who looked at the three ACT based Universities and for sound reasons has recommended to me the Australian National University. The Institute will be chaired for the first year, on an interim basis, by Dr Gregor Ramsay. I felt that Gregor would be an appropriate choice, in the sense that he's put a lot of time and effort, not just into education and leadership over a long period of time, but in also leading the consultation which, as Geoff said, involved sixty-six submissions and ninety-two organisations apart from anything else.

The Institute will have, apart from its Chair, there will be fourteen other Members of the Board, eleven of them will come from the profession. Four of them nominated by our peak principal organisations, one from the Australian Council for Educational Leadership, we will also take five from the Joint Council for Professional Teacher Organisations, there will also be a representative from the Australasian Council for Teacher Accreditation and Registration, an educational expert whom I will nominate, we'll also have the President or his or her nominee from the Australian Council of Deans of Education and there will also be a representative from the Australian College of Educators. The Board will also have four non voting members, a representative from the Australian Education Senior Officials Committee, a representative from my Department, from the National Catholic Education Commission and the Independent Schools Council of Australia. The Board will be guided by an Advisory Council, the Board will determine the composition of that Advisory Council, but I am directing that it will include a representative from the three universities in the ACT, the Australian Education Union, the Independent Education Union, a representative from the Australian Council of Professions and I also think it's important that a person come from Australia's broader ethical community to give advice on not just professional but also issues of broader substance in ethics and building the Institute. The role of the Institute and the Board, initially of course - and we'll be negotiating a Contract with the ANU and I'm sure Professor Chubb will be particularly

aggressive in that process - we will negotiate a Contract, an initial Secretariat on an interim basis will be employed and appointed. We expect that the Institute will do a number of things, but principally it will be firstly to establish relationships with teacher professional organisations and accrediting bodies throughout Australia. It's very important that it complement and work hand in glove with the Institutes that are being established by, to their great credit, by State Governments throughout Australia. It also needs to play a role in professional accreditation and professional standards for the profession. It's important that we have professional standards which are developed by the teaching profession for the teaching profession. The worst of all people to develop standards for any profession is Government and with the greatest respect to Chris Evans and my people, bureaucrats. The profession must have control of its own destiny. And whilst the profession is currently very well represented industrially, it's professional representation is disparate and splintered and I think the profession has inadequate if any control over the training of teachers, it has very limited control over excluding people from your profession whom you feel do not meet the high standards that you expect, and also it's important I think in winning legitimate industrial battles for the profession that the profession itself set what it considers to be appropriate and high standards for school leadership, which it should accredit, and also teaching itself, which it also should accredit, and then from that, I think and certainly my experience in the medical profession is such, from that the industrial battles which are so legitimate are much more likely to be won and receive even stronger support from the broader community. It's also important the Institute play a role in research and communication, it play a key role in elevating the understanding and respect society has for teaching as a profession, because of all of the things what passes for the debate about resourcing schools, can I just say to you I think the single biggest challenge we face in schooling today is how do we raise the respect this society has for teaching as a profession? And to support that with serious resources in professional learning, professional development, in quality assurance and then I believe certainly, additional remuneration that should quite rightly flow from that.

I know that there will be some of you who will criticise the fact that there are not specifically industrial representatives on the Board. Can I just say, I have enough experience with the medical profession, and I was saying to a group yesterday, when we were undergoing a lot of reform with industry advisory arrangements with the Australian National Training Authority, and John Kenneth Galbraith once made the observation that given the choice of change or proving it unnecessary, most people get working on the proof. In the medical profession, my former profession of which I'm very proud - to my surprise as much as anything I ended up being the President of the Australian Medical Association and I am also a Fellow of two Colleges in the Medical Profession, an Honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians and a Fellow of another College. They each have very important but separate roles. And in the medical profession, for example, we have some people who are industrially very active but who are also very active in their learned colleges, and equally people who are very good at leadership in the academic and professional development, in the medical profession, who occasionally take on key industrial roles in the medical profession. So too with this Institute, nothing should preclude a person from the Independent Education Union or the Australian Education Union from being on the Board, but they should come through their professional organisations, because it is extremely important, I think, for all professions to have good, effective, responsible industrial representation, but also good effective and equally responsible leadership in a professional sense.

So today we are laying a foundation stone. It is a very important one. You can tell it's important by my colleagues here, my colleagues will tell you that one reliable sign of something being really important is that no media turns up to report it. So you can take that as we're doing something important.

Before I sit down there are two things I'd like to also say - I'd like to thank my Department for all the work that it's put in on this. It wouldn't be happening without their support. They do sometimes raise their eyebrows when I put a suggestion to them, but none the less thank you so much Chris. I'd also like to present, before Gregor speaks, to him as the Interim Chair, a - I don't know what I'd call it - but basically a gift on behalf of the Australian Government. In presenting this gift I'd also advise you that I will be commissioning, on your behalf as taxpayers, a painting from a leading Aboriginal artist, that I would like displayed in the Foyer of the Institute, that will depict the importance of education and of learning and the interaction between teachers and their students in Aboriginal culture. We should not ever lose sight of the greatest need in education of this country is that of Indigenous students. And so we will embark on that immediately. And I present to you Gregor, on behalf of the Australian Government, to the National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership on the occasion of its foundation, the 3rd of June 2004 and the quote which I've chosen to put on this is, an anonymous quote, I'm embarrassed to say it's not from me "who dares to teach must never cease to learn". So thank you.

For further details see associated media release MIN721.