National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009

National initiatives and achievements

2.2 Supporting quality teaching and school leadership

Australian governments are committed to working with all school sectors to attract, develop, support and retain a high-quality teaching and school leadership workforce in Australian schools (Melbourne Declaration, 2008).
Among the key strategies agreed by Education Ministers for this commitment are the creation of new professional standards, a framework to guide professional learning for teachers and school leaders, and national consistency in the registration of teachers. Improved pay dispersion to reward quality teaching, improved structures to support teachers in disadvantaged Indigenous, rural/remote and hard-to-staff schools and national accreditation of pre-service teacher education courses are other agreed strategies.
This commitment is aligned with the policy and reform directions outlined in the National Education Agreement (NEA) which will contribute to achieving the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) targets for schooling in Australia.

National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality

Through COAG, Australian governments have agreed to a five-year National Partnership Agreement on Improving Teacher Quality. The partnership will run from January 2009 to December 2013 and is designed to drive systemic reforms to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in Australian schools. It aims to deliver system-wide reforms targeting critical points in the teacher 'life cycle' to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in schools.
The National Partnership Agreement sets out the following outcomes:
  • attracting the best entrants to teaching, including mid-career entrants

  • more effectively training principals, teachers and school leaders for their roles and the school environment

  • placing teachers and principals to minimise skill shortages and enhance retention

  • developing teachers and school leaders to enhance their skills and knowledge throughout their careers

  • retaining and rewarding quality principals, teachers and school leaders

  • improving the quality and availability of teacher workforce data.

Commonwealth funding for this initiative is $550 million over five years. Of this funding, $50 million is allocated to professional development and support to enable principals to better manage their schools and achieve improved student results. States and Territories are also providing $29.6 million.
Commonwealth reform in regard to the Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership includes allocating funding under the National Partnership, funding an interim evaluation of the National Partnership and agreeing to complementary interventions to support the National Partnership. States and Territories have set out their strategies and actions under their own implementation plans.
Individual States and Territories have implemented a range of initiatives including the establishment of Centres of Excellence, increasing the number of teacher scholarships, trialling rewarding excellence with pay and piloting programs that enhance school-based decision-making.
In March 2009, MCEETYA¹ received the Rewarding Quality Teaching report. The report outlines research-based initiatives and strategies to facilitate the implementation of the National Partnership. The areas reported on include performance pay, effective mechanisms for assessing and rewarding performance, and perception by the teaching profession.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

In September 2009 MCEECDYA agreed to establish the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) to provide national leadership for Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership.

AITSL will develop national professional standards for teachers and establish national accreditation for teachers based on these standards. It will commence operation in 2010.

¹ The Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) replaced the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in July 2009.