Teachers (5.02.2014)

Written on the 28 February 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession, Mr Hall.

Can the minister inform the house of any recent initiatives that will better prepare university graduates for the teaching profession?


Hon. P. R. HALL (Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession) -- I thank Mrs Crozier for her question and her interest in teacher education. One of the first tasks I undertook when I was assigned responsibility for the teaching profession was to launch the School Centres for Teaching Excellence. There were seven such centres created; some were launched at the end of 2010 and others in early 2011. These are unique partnerships between six Victorian universities and seven clusters of schools scattered around the state.

That initiative promoted a close working partnership between the school clusters and universities in terms of training teachers, enabling the universities and the schools to interact and ensuring that the pre-service training being delivered to the teachers was appropriate for the schools and the school communities in which they were gaining that particular experience.

Over the last couple of years that particular program has received very positive evaluation. This government has recently committed $1.6 million to extend those School Centres for Teaching Excellence into 12 new Teaching Academies for Professional Practice. I am pleased to say that the seven existing School Centres for Teaching Excellence will form part of the 12 new academies, and invitations for other clusters of schools to participate in this program have now been officially called for. I welcome feedback from schools across the state.

Last Friday I visited Point Cook Senior Secondary College and met with the school principal, Greg Sperling, and others. Point Cook is part of a cluster involving in total four or five schools that are working with Victorian universities under one of these particular models. The feedback we received on this particular initiative was very positive. I met with some of those who have been involved in the program over the last few years. There is no doubt that this close working partnership between universities and schools has led to a fertile recruiting ground for the schools themselves as the pre-service teachers have been practising in those schools, have demonstrated their value and have gone on in many cases to be employed by that school as a teacher.

I particularly mention two teachers I met because I was most impressed with their abilities, their enthusiasms and their endorsement of this program. Peter Wilson is undertaking his first year of full employment at the school. He took a rather circuitous route to get to teaching; it has taken him six years.

He spent some time doing TAFE programs, which he articulated into some higher education programs, before eventually becoming a teacher. His excitement at teaching for the first time really filled me with a lot of enthusiasm as well, and his infectious nature points to a wonderful career ahead of him in teaching, and that was endorsed by his principal, Greg Sperling.

The other young teacher I spoke to was Ross Hunter. Ross also did not immediately leave school to undertake pre-service teacher training but had experience in other areas before training to become a teacher. Ross was a contract teacher last year and this year he has a permanent position at the school, teaching in the areas of English and humanities. His attitude to his future career suggested that he will be an outstanding teacher into the future. These are a couple of the people I had the opportunity to meet, and they filled me with confidence that we are on the right track with the establishment of these new academies of teaching practice, something which I again encourage other schools to get involved with.

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