Interview with Ian Henschke, 891 ABC Adelaide
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
SUBJECTS: Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework
IAN HENSCHKE: As you would have heard in the news Peter Garrett, the Education Minister, Federal Education Minister, is launching a program this morning which is a federal government funded scheme, which will reward teachers who are doing a good job. It'll also bring in performance management for all teachers across the country. And Peter Garrett is launching that this morning but he joins us just before he does the official launch.
Thanks for your time, Peter Garrett, Education Minister.
PETER GARRETT: Morning, Ian. In fact I'm launching something else this morning which I've launched yesterday in South Australia, which is the Empowering Local Schools. But we have announced today as you said in your intro that we want to have a yearly performance assessment nationally and we're launching the draft consultation for it today which has been developed by the Institute of School Leadership.
IAN HENSCHKE: This is something that I imagine a lot of people would say is a no-brainer. I mean, everyone everywhere these days has to have their work assessed and reassessed. I'm, you know, my wife works as an engineer. She has, she seems to be constantly going for performance management in her job every, I think every three or four months.
Here at the ABC we have annual performance reviews which are done in detail. I imagine your performance review is being done pretty regularly. They reshuffle cabinets a couple of times every term of government, don’t they?
PETER GARRETT: [Laughs] Well, look, you're right. Performance assessment is a part and parcel of continual improvement in professions and it's absolutely right that we should be embarking on this now nationally for teachers. Some states and school systems do have forms of assessment, but what we're doing here is actually having a teacher performance and development framework, which has been developed by the Institute of Teaching and School Leadership, which the Gillard Government established.
And which will provide national accountability and for the first time ever every teacher in the country undergoing this assessment on a yearly basis. And of course if they choose, putting up their hands to be considered if they're performing well for either highly accomplished or lead teacher and receiving a bonus as a consequence.
IAN HENSCHKE: Okay, that's the bonus side of it. What about the stick side? Here in South Australia the now Premier, Jay Weatherill, when he was Education Minister announced a scheme where he would encourage teachers who basically had burnout to basically buzz off.
PETER GARRETT: Well, look, I think I've said this to you a couple of times when we've chatted, Ian, individual states that run the state government education systems will have different strategies in place for managing their teacher workforce as do, say, for example, a Catholic system or the independent system. That's not the province of the Federal Government.
What I think we're doing here, which is really important, is providing a national teacher performance framework providing every teacher with the opportunity for that assessment. It'll be the first national set of guidelines that we've had and we think it can drive improved teacher performance but of course it will be complementary to what happens in states and other policies that state governments and education systems might have in place.
IAN HENSCHKE: And how will it work? For example some of the material that you've already put out for discussion suggests that there'd be feedback from students, parents and co-workers. How would you, for example, assess what is now being shown to be the most critical area of all, and that is the early childhood area? Are you going to get feedback from grade ones or feedback – how do you ask a five year old whether they've got a good teacher or not?
PETER GARRETT: Well, clearly the assessment will be based on the circumstances of the class that the teacher's teaching. It's supervised by a principal or a delegate. The teacher themselves will provide input to the assessment and it'll draw properly on other components, whether it's feedback from parents and students as is appropriate, obviously, and using common sense, but also student results and in-class observation of teachers as they teach.
And for me this is one of the critical things and it was funny the way the media responded to it when I floated this idea last year. Someone said oh look, you're going and spying on teachers. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. In-class observations of teachers is something that a lot of principals do now and I think most teachers actually, to be fair –
IAN HENSCHKE: Well to be into –
PETER GARRETT: – welcome –
IAN HENSCHKE: Well to be –
PETER GARRETT: – the opportunity to show what they're doing in the classroom.
IAN HENSCHKE: Well, to be fair, Peter Garrett, I can remember when I was at school they used to tell us the school inspector was coming around. I can remember that was part and parcel of education, you know, thirty, forty, years ago. There were schools inspectors going around all the time looking at the school. And we used to be told when they were coming so it was – nothing seems to be new. But, look, we’ve got a caller at the moment, Peter Garrett, Education Minister, if you'd like to take this question from Kathleen. Good morning, Kathleen.
CALLER KATHLEEN: Good morning, Ian and Peter. Look, as one of the vast majority of teachers who are due to retire over the next few years as the baby boomer generation which is the – as I say, the majority of teachers – in my 35 plus years teaching I was never once asked how the system could be improved, what I've learnt about how the system could be improved, in my 35 years. That's the first point.
And the second point is I find it ironic that when a lot of these teachers are nearing retirement and we are desperately going to need young, enthusiastic teachers to replace us, we are putting more stresses and pressures on them than ever in terms of performance management which already does exist in the system, so two points there.
IAN HENSCHKE: Alright, Kathleen. Kathleen, just before you go though, are you saying that in the last 35 years you haven't had an inspector of schools come and look at your teaching work?
CALLER KATHLEEN: No, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is in terms of what I've learnt or could contribute to how the system could be improved, all the knowledge that I've got – and I see other teachers retiring with that knowledge – no one's consulting them on how the system could be actually improved, the whole education system.
IAN HENSCHKE: Okay.
CALLER KATHLEEN: I'm not just, you know, I'm not just talking about one individual –
IAN HENSCHKE: Alright, and, but, but –
CALLER KATHLEEN: – I'm talking about lots of people.
IAN HENSCHKE: And do you agree with performance management as outlined by the Federal Government?
CALLER KATHLEEN: Well, I think it already exists on individuals. It's quite nice, in a way, to include parent and colleague feedback in that, there's no problem in my mind with that. But I do find that the combination of stresses that performance management generally often results in on people, and let's look at that in the workplace, stress in the workplace, then maybe, you know, we should be thinking about that, too, and especially with the young teachers.
IAN HENSCHKE: All right. Well, let's go to Peter Garrett on that one. Is this going to put another stress on teachers and should you be talking to teachers about how they can improve the system?
PETER GARRETT: Well, look, thanks, Kathleen, and thanks for your contribution. Look, I do listen to teachers and teacher organisations on a regular basis. I think they've got an extraordinary amount of on-ground expertise and experience and advice to give to us and we listen very carefully to them. And this has been developed specifically by the Institute of Teaching and School Leadership whose very job it is to look at ways in which teaching can be more effectively delivered in a classroom.
I think this will really help teachers because it does provide consistency in evaluation, it provides the opportunity for feedback, positive feedback. I think teachers do a terrific job, Ian, I've said that before, but we've never had a national performance framework, an assessment framework.
And we've never had the opportunity for teachers as they go through the system like Kathleen has, to put themselves up for identification as either a lead teacher or a highly accomplished teacher, sharing those fantastic teaching practices they have developed with their peers but also being acknowledged and rewarded for it. And I think that's something that teachers would actually welcome.
IAN HENSCHKE: All right. Thanks, Peter Garrett, Education Minister.