Press conference—St Thomas More College, Brisbane
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
SUBJECTS: Empowering Local Schools initiative; Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework
PETER GARRETT: Look thanks very much everybody for coming here to St Thomas More College at Sunnybank this morning for two very important announcements about school education.
The first is the announcement that we will invest $3 million in assisting over 40 Catholic and independent schools in the Empowering Local Schools initiative, to provide more opportunities for autonomy, more control, for principals and for school communities as to how schools are run. This is a really important announcement and its one that we’re making right around Australia so I’m very pleased to be here in Brisbane this morning making this announcement.
International research tells us that if we give more control and power to school leaders like principals and the community then we’ll get better teaching and better student results in the classroom. So today’s announcement is an important one, and I look forward to inviting Mike Byrne from the Catholic Education Office to say a few words about that in a minute.
The other thing we’ve done today is we’ve released the national performance and assessment framework for teachers, which is the first time in Australia we will have a national assessment framework for all teachers, designed to provide clear guidance and feedback to them on how they’re performing in the classroom.
I’m very excited about this announcement. Teaching is a really important profession, and teachers are amongst our most prized professionals in this country. Now for the first time they’ll have a national performance framework which enables them to provide information and feedback as to how they’re going in the classroom, seek feedback from parents and from students, and as well as that, of course look at those things that they’re doing in the classroom, the kind of results that they’re getting from their students, as a way of judging how effectively they’re able to teach in their classroom environment.
That will happen under the mentorship and guidance of either a principal or a principal’s delegate and we’re very excited about the work that the Australian Institute of School Leadership has done, providing us with a really robust national framework for assessing teacher performance.
So these are big steps in education in our country that we’re taking today, providing more power and more opportunity for a say over what happens in the school to principals and the school community, and also providing our teachers in those schools with a national assessment framework so that they can best be considered in their effective teaching practices and developing them over time.
Finally one thing to add, we will be investing significantly in providing rewards for those teachers who choose under the national performance framework and under the national qualifications to be considered as either Highly Accomplished or Lead teachers. Highly Accomplished teachers would expect to receive a $7500 bonus, Lead teachers a $10 000 bonus. This is a way of this government recognising the great job that teachers do and identifying the fact that the most important person, once a kid in Australia walks in through the school gate, is the teacher.
So I’m very pleased to be having these announcements here today at St Thomas More. Peter Elmore, thank you very much for showing me around the school. I can see that you’ve got a student body which is really focused on their learning and a very committed teaching staff. I enjoy these visits to schools, I’ve enjoyed my visit to St Thomas More this morning, not the least of which I enjoyed the performance from the choir, showing the great capacities that they have. I might invite Mike Byrne to say a few words and then of course I’m happy to take any questions from our media friends.
[Mike Byrne’s comments omitted]
JOURNALIST: The Queensland Teachers’ Union said the money could be better spent to develop teachers rather than performance development [inaudible].
PETER GARRETT: Look I’ll come to that question in a second, perhaps just to put the first question that was put to Mike. It is the intention of a national framework of assessment for teachers that it would align with existing assessment procedures that are already in operation, either in state government school systems or in independent systems such as the Catholic system. And we will devote some resources to making sure that there is not an increase, a significant increase, in the reporting and management requirements for teachers. But I have to stress that we do not have in this country a national assessment system or framework, we haven’t had one up to this time, and now we do.
And that is an absolute positive for the teaching profession and for education generally. But we will make sure that the appropriate way of implementing this framework will be to ensure that its aligned with existing assessment measures and we will have the discussion that Mike Byrne referred to, and that’s why we’ve gone out for consultation and that will happen between now and August.
On the question that’s been put about the appropriate reward for teachers generally, I just make the point that this government has doubled the level of investment in education over four years, compared to our predecessors. There’s never been more investment in education in Australia in our history, and of that investment, over half a billion dollars has been invested in national partnerships for teacher quality.
So our bona fides as a government that’s fully supportive of education and teachers is very clear. And I think it’s entirely appropriate for a profession which is absolutely crucial to our future prospects, that teachers receive the opportunity not only for increased recognition, because they’re doing a great job, but also to be eligible for bonuses if they reach those high levels of Highly Accomplished or Lead.
And I’m very confident that the way in which we’ve structured this approach, the consultations that we’ve already had with the teaching profession and the consultation process that we’ll now embark on means that we’ll end up with a framework which is extremely effective in making sure that teachers have got a robust assessment process underway, one that they have confidence in, and also providing opportunity for our great teachers to be duly rewarded and recognised.
JOURNALIST: Is it dangerous to provide, to link performance to bonuses?
PETER GARRETT: Well look, the key thing about what we’re proposing is that all teachers would undergo an annual assessment, which Australia-wide they haven’t until this point in time. But teachers would then choose voluntarily, to decide whether they want to see additional accreditation as either Highly Accomplished or Lead teachers. So it’s a voluntary measure for teachers if they want to take up, if they do they’ll receive that level of assessment.
JOURNALIST: So it’s going to be a significant amount of extra paperwork – when are the teachers going to find time to teach?
PETER GARRETT: Look I don’t believe in any way that there’s a significant amount of extra work here, in fact I see this as absolute core business in the school, in the system and in the classroom. Most professions now in our country undergo a period of assessment, review and management scrutiny. And it is absolutely appropriate for teachers to be a part of that as well. This is an incredibly important profession and for me, one of the keys is again the learning from those teachers who are effective, who are doing a good job, who will be identified and for that learning to be shared with their colleagues.
JOURNALIST: Can you explain how teachers will have to collect evidence as I understand from their students and the parents. How will that work in real terms going to students and saying can you write something nice about me?
PETER GARRETT: Look no, no I think you’ve got to see it as a sensible and logical process. A template will be provided for teachers which enables them to go through the consultations that we have to identify those elements of their teaching practice which they see to be crucial to their performance.
So obviously there will be opportunity for feedback from parents and from students, the opportunity for feedback from the school community generally, how their kids are going in their subjects, the amount of extracurricular work that they’ve done, the professional development courses that they’ve undertaken.
There are a range of potential matters to be considered in an evaluation and assessment too of this kind. And we now want to work through a consultation process with schools, with the Catholic system and with others to refine this so that it’s effective and extremely useful in its application.
One thing I can say is that the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership has done a very good job in circulating this work for consideration and I’m very confident that we’re going to see an extremely good product which is very useful for teachers.
JOURNALIST: How do you see [inaudible]? Will it be we want this amount of teachers to reach this level, is that how it will work?
PETER GARRETT: Well that’s going to be a matter for the consultation that’s out now and when we’ve finally settled on the framework you’ll have an opportunity to see where we’ve landed.
PETER GARRETT: What we’ve said is that if teachers reach either Highly Accomplished or Lead they are entitled to receive that one-off bonus. If they reach Highly Accomplished and then Lead, they’ll be entitled to the second bonus as they progress.
PETER GARRETT: Well it’s an assessment process so it’s a way of evaluating how teachers are performing. The question of staff management, the question of assessing and judging teachers performance overall is a question for the employer body, either the state government or the school system. But this will be for the first time, a framework which operates nationally and provides the consistency that we need in terms of letting teachers know how they’re going in the classroom.
JOURNALIST: So will they be sacked or penalised?
PETER GARRETT: No, well as I just pointed out the question about whether or not teachers remain in a classroom doing their existing duties, are promoted or otherwise, are properly questions for the employer organisations, the state governments that run the public school system, the Catholic school system and the independent schools. Thanks everybody.