SUBJECTS: Quality Teaching Rounds program
MICHELLE ROWLAND, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATION: I'm delighted to be here at Hambledon Public School. It's one of the great schools we have here in Greenway and such a pleasure to welcome Minister Jason Clare to this fantastic educational facility here in north-west Sydney. We know that quality education relies on quality teacher training. So, I'm delighted that the Federal Government is making investments in this area, recognising the critical importance for education, especially for growth areas here in north-west Sydney.
There are suburbs in this area that will grow by over 300 per cent by 2040. A quality education has never been more important for these young families moving into the area and we know how important this is for lifelong learning. So, thank you so much, Minister Clare, for coming here to north-west Sydney to this great school here at Hambledon Public and very much look forward to what you are announcing today.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well thanks very much, Michelle. It's great to be here at Hambledon Public School and you can't see it on the camera, but I can see all the student leaders here at Hambledon. G'day, guys. This is all a bit strange having a TV camera here at school, but we're here for a really important purpose and that is to announce funding for the Quality Teacher Rounds program that's run by the University of Newcastle.
For more than 10 years now, the University of Newcastle’s been running this program and helping teachers across New South Wales and into Queensland and Victoria, and now being able to run this program nationwide.
This is a program that helps to build the skills of our teachers and ten years of evidence shows it works. It helps brand new teachers like Kaitlin, who we're going to hear from in a moment, and also really experienced teachers, and part of the magic, part of the secret sauce is teachers working with each other.
It also helps our students. The evidence of 10 years of this program shows that it helps our youngest Aussies to get better at reading and better at maths and I've got a chance to see some of that in action just a moment ago.
In the last 10 years or so, this program has helped almost five thousand teachers here in New South Wales and other parts of the country, and almost a million students. And for the first time ever, the Federal Government is now chipping in and providing almost $5 million to help to expand this program nationwide. It's one part of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan that was finalised last year and is now starting to roll out.
I need to use this opportunity to pay tribute to you, Jenny, Professor Jenny Gore at the University of Newcastle. In many respects, this is your baby. You've been a champion for this for over 10 years. All of these teachers whose lives have been changed by this should pay credit to you.
We're going to hear from Kaitlin in a minute. Kaitlin started teaching in the teeth of the pandemic. I can't imagine starting a job in the middle of the pandemic would be easy. It must be really, really hard, whatever job you've got. But being a teacher would be even harder. Imagine doing prac online. Imagine starting to teach online without that face-to-face camaraderie with teachers and all the support that you get in the classroom and in the school. Kaitlin had to do that, and I won't take the words out of your mouth that you told me before, but you thought about quitting, and that this program has made you a teacher for life.
So, Jenny, you're changing the lives of teachers, our most valuable asset, one of the most important jobs in this world, and you're changing the lives of young people, almost a million already and millions more to come. Thank you so much for everything that you do, and you continue to do, and I'm so glad that as a Federal Government we can contribute in a small way to expand this program nationwide. Judy, would you like to say a few words?
JUDY McEWEN, PRINCIPAL HAMBLEDON PUBLIC SCHOOL: Warami. Warami, welcome to our very special school community. We're very proud. Our association with the University of Newcastle started in 2019 as part of a research project and then we started Quality Teaching Rounds in 2020.
Quality Teaching Rounds very much does what it needs to do. It integrates what we do, teaching, to make teaching better and that's the key to it and we're really fortunate to have an entire staff who embrace Quality Teaching Rounds.
Very strong, across all of the teachers, have been the need to go and watch each other teach and give each other feedback on their teaching. Quality Teaching Rounds is a very strong, rigorous way in which they do that. Even in terms of the disruptions we've faced, but we have had 36 teachers already complete a round and 10 of those have completed two or more rounds as teacher leaders. But any teacher in our school, be they permanent, temporary, casual, or what we call our flexi team, have access to actually completing rounds which go every four weeks. But the biggest and the strongest proponents of that have been our early career teachers. They are our most powerful advocates of it because they actually watch other teachers from other grades teach, they actually get the opportunity to mix with teachers across different stages that they normally don't get, and it certainly has the result of building a really strong climate amongst our teaching staff. The teachers themselves feel validated in what they're doing and, additionally, our children see, as our motto says, learning for life, our teachers learning from each other. So really fortunate to carry on and we still have a whole group of teachers waiting to do their next round.
So, we're really pleased to have you here to announce this launch. So, thank you. Kaitlin.
KAITLIN HEGGEN, HAMBLEDON PUBLIC SCHOOL: Thank you, Judy. I was someone who was put into a situation where I had to finish my final prac online. It was not what I expected when I first started uni, that's for sure. Many people come up to me and said, you know, "Oh, I saw your name when we were doing online learning. I didn't realise that this was your very first year, that you hadn't even finished your degree yet. "So, I think that - by participating in QTR, I was able to kind of make some connections with people that I wouldn't traditionally make connections with. Everyone is a friendly face here, everyone says hello but when you need some support at, you know, when you're an early career teacher, who is it that you can really go to?
So, I was with four other people. They come and they watch me teach and I watch them teach and we formed connections that we could rely on. We could go - still to this day I go and ask them for support when I need it. So, I think that QTR was the foundation for building relationships in the school after being a slightly isolated online. We were very close when we got together. We did the watching, we did the coding and the discussing process, and it really did strengthen our collegial relationships. So, I'm very, very glad that we were able to participate in that process and be able to have some strengthening supports.
I just think that one in five teachers in their first five years drop out of teaching. It's a very - it's a hard process to go through and when you have more support, when you have professional development like the QTR model, you are able to make connections and have something that helps you. It makes you feel less alone and more isolated. So, I'm very, very thankful that I was able to participate in QTR and, yeah, definitely would be doing it again.
LAUREATE PROFESSOR JENNIFER GORE, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE: We're just really delighted of the commitment made by Minister Clare and the Australian Government to support beginning teachers based on this work that we've been doing over many years at the University of Newcastle. We have completed multiple studies, including several randomised control trials that show that when teachers participate in Quality Teaching Rounds, it boosts their morale, boosts their confidence, it increases the quality of their teaching and most importantly, it improves student academic achievement by as much as two to three months over the course of a school year compared to matched control groups. So, it's a really huge gain that can be made in student achievement and teacher wellbeing as a result of this participation.
So, we're really excited now at this opportunity to take the program nationally and cross-sectorally and really interested to see the difference that it can make for teacher retention and that's particularly important right now because keeping great teachers in the profession has probably never been more urgent. So, we're ready to go with this project as of now and we've already had more than 100 schools’ express interest in being a part of it. So, thank you very much, again, to Minister Clare and Minister Rowland for attending and to the staff and students from Hambledon Public School. It's a real pleasure to have this opportunity. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: Jenny, do you mind just explaining a little bit more about how the program actually works. Like how it works operationally?
GORE: That's a really great question, isn't it? It really just brings together small groups of teachers to observe each other's lessons and then discuss in detail the quality of their teaching in ways that support them to improve the quality overall and so over a course of four days with in-school professional development that really empowers teachers to work with each other. It's not about external people coming in. We see these great gains in achievement from just that four-day engagement in professional development.
The other really critical part of it, the secret sauce, as the Minister said, is that it builds relationships and networks among teachers. So, they feel really supported and you can participate in this program, whether you're a first year-out teacher, like Caitlin, or whether you're a principal or someone who has been teaching for 30 years. We see the gains occur right across the teaching career stage span.
JOURNALIST: So, will any educator basically be eligible to participate?
GORE: What we're looking for is groups of four teachers from schools, where there are at least two teachers in their first three years and at least one more experienced teacher because that cross-generational work that teachers do together is part of the strength of the program.
JOURNALIST: Thank you. And mind if I ask Minister Clare a couple of questions, as well?
JOURNALIST: So obviously we have a big workforce gap to fill when it comes to teaching in Australia, across the entire country, do you see this program as a way to keep beginning teachers in their careers longer?
CLARE: It's part of it. We've got a teacher shortage crisis right across the country, not enough people jumping out of school and into university wanting to become teachers. We need to change that. As I said, there aren't many jobs in the world more important than the work our teachers do. I want to change the way we as a country think about teaching. Raise the status of teaching in our profession.
When you survey teachers, only about 36 per cent say that they feel valued by their community. That's pretty similar in most parts of the world. But in places like Singapore, about 70 per cent of teachers say they feel valued by their community and in Singapore there's a line out the door of university of people trying to get in to become teachers. We've got the reverse problem. The drop over the last ten years is about 12 per cent in people wanting to become teachers. I want to turn that around and later this year we will roll out a national campaign funded by the federal government and state governments to help to do that. So, watch this space.
We also want to encourage more people to want to become teachers and help them become teachers. Later this year we will roll out scholarships worth up to $40,000 to encourage students and encourage people who might be doing something else at the moment, to go to university and become a teacher. So that's all part of trying to build our teacher work force. But we also want more people to finish their university degrees, not enough do. Only about 50 per cent who start complete. And we want more of our teachers who make the leap into the classroom to stay there. Kaitlin made the point that something like, what was it -
KAITLIN: One in five teachers drop out.
CLARE: So, 20 per cent of teachers leave the job in the first couple of years. What if we could turn that around? What if we could help to make sure that more stay? One of the things that will help is this, because if you feel like you've got the skills and support and the information you need to be a great teacher, you're more likely to stay and become a great teacher. So that's important. The Teacher Workforce Action Plan also talks about mentoring generally. If you've got a mentor, an experienced teacher with you to help guide you through those early years, and if you've got more resources and help. And so, one of the conversations that's been happening in the country for a while now is about curriculum materials. There's a big difference between the curriculum itself and the class lessons that you need in the class each and every day. Teachers spend a lot of time after the bell rings at the end of the day preparing for the next day. The idea that teachers start at 9 and finish at 3 is rubbish. Teachers work really long hours. Most of those hours aren't in front of children. They're doing all of the admin work or the class preparation they need to do and if we can help there as well, that will help us to keep teachers like Caitlin and keep them for life.
JOURNALIST: Would something like this program - do you want to see it rolled out like for every teacher who is graduating in that first five years?
CLARE: More and more. It's not compulsory. But the evidence shows that it works. This is about encouraging teachers to participate in the program. Teachers teaching teachers. That's, in a sense, what this is about. And that camaraderie, working together, is making a difference. Jenny, you were talking about the secret sauce being the teachers working together.
I was at Gillen Public School in Alice Springs yesterday and seeing some of the magic happening at that little school. Part of that is great leadership from the principal, but it's also about a consistent whole-school approach. All teaching in the same way, all working together, all 30-odd teachers at that school. And in a sense, that's part of it, isn't it? Because if the teachers are working together and learning from each other, then whatever teacher you've got, in whatever year you're in, you're getting the same skills, the same techniques, the same approach and the evidence shows it makes a difference.
JOURNALIST: And just one more question on a separate matter. I wanted to ask you about private school funding. The Gonski Institute at UNSW has proposed this model where private schools would either be fully funded by the Government, or they would choose to charge fees and not be able to do this split model where they can essentially have both. Is that a model that you would consider in the future?
CLARE: That's not something we're considering. My focus is making sure that all schools are on a path to full and fair funding. That's not the case at the moment. For non-government schools right across the country, they're either at 100 per cent of that Gonski SRS or they're above it and on a pathway down to 100 per cent by the end of the decade, or just below it and on a pathway to get there by the end of the decade.
Public schools aren't. Except for the ACT. Public schools, everywhere else across the country, top out at about 95 per cent. And here in New South Wales, thanks to the announcement made before the election by Chris Minns and Prue Carr, they will get to 95 per cent of that level by 2025. I want to make sure working with my state and territory colleagues that we get every school on a path to 100 per cent of that level. The next National School Reform Agreement is all about that but not just that. I want to make sure that we don't just fill that funding gap, but we close the education gap that still exists in this country. Make sure that we use that funding and tie that funding to the things that we know work and it will make a real difference.
If you're a child today, from a poor family or from the bush, you're three times more likely to fall behind at school. I want to fix that. If you're a child from a poor family, if you're a child that goes to a public high school in Australia today, you're less likely to finish high school than other children. I want to fix that. We need to fix that. We live in a world today where almost every job being created requires you to finish high school and then to go onto TAFE or university. So, what we do here counts. This agreement that we'll strike next year is our last best chance to get this right.