This time last year, I was only a few months into the role as CEO but had already experienced first-hand the genuine care and connection AITSL has with the teaching profession.
For 10 years, AITSL has worked hand in hand with teacher employers and the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), the tertiary sector including universities, principal and other professional associations, teacher regulatory bodies, and the teaching profession as a whole, to support and guide quality teaching and school leadership in Australia.
These relationships, and a collaborative approach, were particularly crucial in the past few months as we have all faced the challenges of COVID-19. I am proud of how we all pivoted to adapt to this testing environment, continuing to look out for each other while progressing our important work using alternate means.
AITSL has a strong track record of working across the education sector to deliver significant national education reform, stemming back to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the subsequent eight national education policies. We have a trusted connection with teachers and school leaders and combine this with policy and research expertise and agility. This allows us to deliver high-quality and timely policy reform when directed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Education Council, and in support of all systems, sectors and teacher regulators.
AITSL achieves national reach, working with Education Council and its accompanying bodies and other key stakeholders. AITSL is an ‘honest broker’ for school education, and a genuine consultative approach is the basis for all our work. We lead reform at a system level with national policies and initiatives, and support at a classroom level with tools and resources. The goal of both is to improve learning outcomes for all students.
Over the past year, our work on stemming the abuse of teachers, school leaders and other school staff, reducing red tape, school leadership development, supporting national certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers, and supporting the cultural competency of the teaching workforce in relation to Indigenous education, demonstrates this. We have consulted broadly on each of these projects, listening to the sector and establishing the evidence base that will be the foundation for our work in these areas. We have drafted the National Teacher Workforce Strategy (NTWS), and progress on the Australian Teacher Workforce Data (ATWD) initiative continues on track.
Over the past 10 years, we have led work touching on teachers and leaders at every stage of their careers, from pre-service teachers at university, through the various career stages of teaching, and into leadership. We want every teacher and leader to have the maximum impact on learning in all Australian schools and early childhood settings.
As part of our ongoing work to ensure teaching graduates are classroom ready, Education Council endorsed changes to the Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia policy (Standards and Procedures) to include a focus on reading instruction, including phonics. We also progressed recommendations from the national review of teacher registration, including the transition from provisional to full teacher registration.
We hosted a national roundtable aimed at ensuring effective school leadership across Australia and provided this advice to the Minister. We also commenced consultation as part of a stocktake of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, including a focus on trauma-informed learning, with our advice on this due to Education Council in late 2020.
Our unabated progress on national reforms and initiatives was achieved simultaneously with providing practical support to teachers and leaders, including the release of an enhanced version of the My Induction app for beginning teachers. In late 2020, additional app functionality will match beginning teachers with experienced mentors. This will be a lifeline for teachers starting their careers and working in early childhood or rural and remote locations where access to a mentor is rare.
In October 2019, we led celebrations for World Teachers’ Day in Australia with a national campaign focused on the bright future of teaching. The AITSL hashtag #brightfuture had over 1.5 million impressions on Twitter alone, and at its highest, trended at number two in Australia. In late 2019, as part of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages and our cultural competency work, we released a series of videos profiling effective practices in Indigenous language education.
When COVID-19 closed many schools in March 2020, we rapidly rolled out the Australian Teacher Response campaign. This brought together new AITSL resources, along with those curated from other organisations, to support schools through changing times. An AITSL research summary on what works in online/distance teaching and learning, released as part of this campaign, received over 90,000 views within the first three months.
While the way we worked these past few months has been different, we remain committed to working closely with the sector, consulting on all our work (albeit via technology), and supporting teachers and leaders to maximise their impact on student learning.
AITSL is a small organisation and punches well above its weight. I am particularly proud that our staff and the organisation have maintained such high standards while working from their homes and in many cases, juggling remote learning for their own children.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge and thank the AITSL Board, our many stakeholders across Australia, and AITSL staff – delivering support on behalf of nearly four million students and 330,000 teachers takes a huge team effort.