During the past 12 months, we have had terrible bushfires in many parts of the nation and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia’s response to these significant crises highlights the incredibly important work of teachers in the community.
The way teachers and school leaders have responded so swiftly and professionally to these unwelcome and disrupting developments is, to my mind, a measure of the incredible value of the profession and a tribute to the dedication, expertise and professionalism that characterises the Australian teacher workforce.
It has led to the development of new ways of working and continues to transform education delivery in Australia. It is incumbent on us not to let this moment pass us by and to capture the learnings from this difficult time to energise teaching and learning.
I have been particularly proud of the way AITSL has seized the moment, providing an online hub of practical resources for teachers, producing well-regarded literature on what works and what doesn’t in remote settings, and encouraging teachers to help support each other through new channels, including a Facebook group. Throughout, AITSL has worked closely with our stakeholders to progress our work, mindful of their competing demands at this time.
Such initiatives demonstrate to me that AITSL has the trust of the profession around the nation and is in a unique position to react nimbly to changing circumstances.
Throughout 2019–20, AITSL worked diligently to deliver a wide range of projects, to ensure Australia has a high-quality education system where teachers and leaders have the greatest impact on the educational growth and achievement of every learner.
While AITSL is perhaps best known for the work we do on professional standards, it is only a small part of our story. Over the past year, we worked with the profession on a range of projects such as Indigenous Cultural Competency, implementing the National Review of Teacher Registration, and improving reading instruction, including phonics. Other projects initiated on behalf of the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education, included stemming the abuse of teachers, school leaders, and other school staff, and reducing teacher red tape.
AITSL continues to listen to the needs of the profession and responds with targeted research on topics as broad as remote learning, professional learning for relief teaching, and diversity in school leadership. This research builds on other practical work such as the My Induction app, which helps support and guide beginning teachers as they commence their careers – particularly in regional and rural settings.
AITSL laid the groundwork for several large initiatives that will shape the future of teaching in Australia. These include important data projects such as Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) and the National Teacher Workforce Strategy (NTWS). Together, these projects have the potential to super-charge what we know about the profession and its many drivers, giving us opportunities to further support the teaching profession.
Our work in moving the Online Formative Assessment Initiative (OFA) from discovery to alpha stage has been done in collaboration with Education Services Australia (ESA) and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Working in partnership underscored the co-operative and innovative way in which the various parts of the national education architecture is working for the benefit of all Australians.
The way in which the three agencies of the national architecture are successfully prosecuting OFA demonstrates the collegiality between our organisations and I welcome further opportunity to collaborate. I also look forward to AITSL working with the National Evidence Institute as it gets on its feet.
In addition to all this, we contributed several significant submissions, including to the NAPLAN review and the Inquiry in Education in Remote and Complex Environments.
By listening to and working with the profession, AITSL continues to adapt to the needs of teachers and school leaders. Our gratitude and thanks go to all our stakeholders for their collaboration and trust.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank my fellow Directors, all of whom bring deep expertise and knowledge to the AITSL Board. My thanks also to our Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mark Grant, and his committed team who continue to impress me with their uncompromising focus on delivering positive outcomes for Australian students by supporting quality teaching and school leadership.