- From the President
- Thank you Paul Colyer
- WOODS Furniture
- ASUS Education
- Saints of Italy Pilgrimage
- Jason Clare has a draft plan to fix the teacher shortage
- Public consultation: Draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan
- Catholic Schools Guide
- Productivity Commission says Australian schools ‘fall short’ on quality and equity
- Procurement Australia
- NAPLAN 2023 social media kit
- Enquiry Tracker
- What we must do now to rescue Australian schools￼
- Just a Thought!
Our board met for the last time in 2022 in Canberra, with the highlights below.
We conducted our AGM via a virtual platform as we were unable to have a quorum at the recent APPA conference.
It was wonderful to acknowledge our valued partners who have continued to support us during the past 12 months. I encourage you to connect with our partners and give them the opportunity to promote their products and services to you and your schools. Without their strong support, we would not be able to achieve what we do each year.
Dr Andrew Watson, Director of Wagga spent time with the board and spoke about the unique nature of the diocese and the 24 primary schools. Dr Watson spoke about the issues related to the rural nature of the diocese and the workforce plans that are being implemented.
Work continues in updating our organisation's policy suite and our operational plan. Both will allow our board to have a clear purpose and direction, especially as the membership does change on a regular basis.
A combined meeting of ACPPA and CaSPA was a highlight of the recent national meeting held in Canberra. The opportunity to have the two boards meet allowed discussion around shared areas of development and also responded to the recently released Teacher Workforce Review document.
Farewell and thank you to our current Vice President Gez Mulvahil, and board members Liz Keogh and Megan Evans who have completed their time on the board. Congratulations to both Liz for her appointment as the new Deputy Director of the Port Pirie Diocese and to Gez Mulvahil, who will join us as the new ACPPA Executive Officer at the beginning of 2023.
We will welcome a new Vice President in 2023. Michael Gray, the current VACPSP president will join us in this role from the beginning of the new year. Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team and we look forward to him supporting the further work of the board in his new role.
Our articles in this TOPICs are heavily about our current workforce situation. There is an opportunity for each of you to respond if you feel it is appropriate and I urge you to add your voice to those of the association, the NCEC and APPA.
Can I take this opportunity at the end of 2022 to thank each of you for your service to your school communities this year. Your role as principal is vital to ensuring the success and well-being of every person in your school, student and staff member. Take some time for yourself at the end of this school year to recharge and find time for yourself. You cant do the work that you do unless you look after yourself too.
To each of you who is concluding your principalship, whether it has been the 12 months or like my colleague Steve in Western Australia who retires after 35 years as a principal, thank you for the service you have provided to your school communities and Catholic Education.
Have a very blessed Christmas and a very relaxing break.Read Less
Paul Colyer, our first Executive Officer, left our association at the end of September to take up a position with Caritas as the Associate Director - Community Engagement
It is through Paul's guidance and work that ACPPA has developed into a modern and professional organisation. The future-proofing of the ACPPA through the development of the strategic plan 2021-2024 and the implementation of the operational aspect of the plan were significant parts of Paul’s work.
Paul was the first executive officer of ACPPA, taking on the position in 2017. Since this time, he has worked diligently supporting the work of the president and the board through the daily work of the association.
This included preparation and research on several important key projects, including the incorporation of our association, our rebranding, key strategic planning, and the delivery of ACP Connect, the principal well-being portal, in partnership with Brennan Law.
Paul has used his prior experience as a principal to provide a level of insight into the position that has proved highly valuable to the president, management team, board, and the association.
We congratulate Paul on his appointment and acknowledge him for his exceptional work, which has left our association extremely well-placed for the future.Read Less
Catholic Education Tasmania Leaders and Principals experienced the trip of a lifetime to Italy to renew their faith and deepen their relationship with Christ.
Participants experienced a 13-day pilgrimage to Italy, where they visited some of the world’s oldest and most significant Catholic churches and shrines. The pilgrimage focused on celebrating the liturgy, engaging and developing relationships with fellow travellers, and personal prayer and reflection. The pilgrims climbed hills, walked deep underground into ancient cities, and travelled to places where miracles occurred in what was a truly faith-enriching experience.
Upon arrival, the Pilgrims visited the Vatican City and St Peter’s Basilica on their first full day in Italy. In what was an incredible opportunity, all in attendance had the opportunity to partake in a private mass in a crypt deep inside of St Peter’s Basilica, which was led by His Grace, Archbishop Julian Porteous. Later in the day, they marvelled at the beauty of the Sistine Chapel before visiting one of the most sacred sites underneath St Peter’s Basilica, the ‘Necropolis’, the location of Saint Peter’s burial tomb.
Each day was filled with experiences that helped reform their faith and allowed them to reflect on their own religious journey to date. Executive Director, Dr Gerard Gaskin spoke glowingly of the pilgrimage, “The Saints of Italy pilgrimage lived up to every expectation. In all, fifteen Principals and Senior CET leaders participated in what can only be described as a genuine opportunity to grow in our faith and in our understanding of the rich spiritual and cultural legacy that the Catholic Church has given and continues to give to the world and to our history.”
A highlight of the first week was being able to take part in a Papal audience in St Peter’s square in Vatican City. Dr Gaskin explained, “To celebrate a papal audience with the Catholics of the world in their tens of thousands is a reminder of the global breadth and spread of our faith.” Following the mass, Catholics from around the world began asking Archbishop Julian for photos and blessings on behalf of the Catholic Church. This speaks to how revered Catholic leaders are within society and shows how blessed the pilgrims were to have His Grace lead the tour.
Deputy Executive Director: System Resources at CET, Cam Brown described the pilgrimage as an unforgettable journey, noting how blessed and privileged all attendees were to be able to attend the trip with His Grace. “We were fortunate enough to experience firsthand so much of our Catholic culture, heritage and tradition while immersing ourselves in the rich stories and lives of many of our Saints.”
The pilgrims followed in the footsteps of St Benedict as they visited the village of Subiaco.
During this aspect of the trip, they were able to visit two famous monasteries which are located in the magnificent natural setting along the Ariene River. The cliff-facing Monastery of St Benedict and the Abbey of Montecassino provided a picturesque setting for pilgrims to reflect on their own faith and be reminded of the words of St Benedict, that all things should be done in moderation.
Principal of St Paul’s Catholic School Bridgewater, Jo Clark, discussed the unique experience she had in attending the trip. “It was an absolute privilege to be part of the Saints of Italy Pilgrimage 2022 with fifteen other Principals, CET Leaders and led by Archbishop Julian… All our experiences were formative for us as leaders and will deepen our prayerful and reflective leadership as we lead our communities and share our faith in our future.” One of Jo’s highlights was visiting the tomb of St Paul, the saint that her school in Bridgewater is named after. She was able to make a special prayer for her school community and her parish, at such an important religious shrine for the St Paul’s Catholic School community.
The Saints of Italy Pilgrimage takes place every three years, and all that were in attendance stated how faith-enriching the whole experience was. Principals and Senior CET staff can be a part of the tour which takes place once every three years, and this year happened to be the first trip since the pandemic and COVID-19. We look forward to the next pilgrimage, with a new set of pilgrims who have the chance to experience such an engaging religious journey.Read Less
As he said on Thursday, “there is a shortage of them right across the country”. For example, federal education department modelling shows there will be a high school teacher shortfall of about 4,000 by 2025.
The plan has been brewing since a meeting between Clare and his state and territory counterparts in August.
Since then, education department heads, schools, university and union leaders have been working on ways to address the teacher shortage. Clare now wants to know what should stay and what needs to change, before education ministers sign off on the plan in December.
First, what’s the problem?
We are education researchers who study teachers’ perceptions of their work in Australia. Earlier this year, we conducted a national survey of 5,000 teachers. We recorded more than 38,000 comments, including proposed solutions and ideas for change.
This research showed the teacher shortage is the result of complex problems that have been building for years.
If we are going to fix it, we need to address issues including excessive workloads, the increasing complexity of the role, growing expectations and administrative responsibilities, and a lack of respect for the profession.
What’s in the plan?
The plan includes a headline figure of A$328 million, some of which was announced in the budget last week.
It looks at six themes: improving teaching’s reputation, encouraging more people to do teaching degrees, improving how we prepare new teachers for the job, reducing workloads and better data. It includes 28 “actions”, such as:
- $10 million to raise the status of teachers
- new teacher of the year awards
- recognising skills in other areas (like maths) that can be “transferable” to teaching
- improving access to First Nations cultural competency resources
The draft plan also includes:
- $25 million for a “workload reduction” pilot
- improving data about current teacher supply, teaching graduate numbers and why teachers leave
- improving mentoring and support for teachers starting out in their careers.
What does it get right?
The draft has many promising elements, which suggests there is a commitment to real action on key issues. This is particularly the case when it comes respect for teachers and their workloads.
1. Elevating the profession
The draft says we need to “recognise the value teachers bring to students, communities and the economy”. It is encouraging to see this is the top of the list of action items. Importantly, it also states:
ministers, education stakeholders, and the media will take every opportunity to actively promote the valued work of teachers and the merits of the profession, effective immediately.
Our research found 70% of surveyed teachers feel the profession is disrespected by the public. We also found 90% felt politicians don’t respect teachers and 80% felt the media do not respect teachers. As one teacher told us:
I plan to leave […]it is wearying constantly having to defend my profession against attacks in the media.
Raising the status of the profession and valuing teachers as a highly skilled, expert workforce (that is a critical part of society) is of utmost importance.
In another section called, “maximising the time to teach”, there is a much-needed focus on workload issues. In our study, only 14% of teachers agreed their workloads were manageable. Workload issues were also the most frequent reason given for wanting to leave the profession, as illustrated by this teacher:
I’ve hit burnout twice already. I don’t expect I can keep up the level of energy or give so much of my time for much longer.
Workload is a crucial issue that requires an immediate response, as this draft has recognised. Ongoing consultation with teachers is crucial. Ministers and policymakers should keep asking teachers what support they need to make their workloads manageable – and listening to the responses.
What needs to change?
In releasing the draft, Clare has called for feedback from teachers and the broader community, and he wants to know what is missing. In our view, the final plan needs to have a bigger focus on two things:
1. Retaining teachers
Although the report includes sections to support current teachers, a significant proportion is spent on attracting new teacher and strengthening teaching degrees.
There is no question we need to attract and train great teachers. But if we want to have any short-to-medium-term impact on the issue, the top priority should be keeping the teachers we have now.
The current workforce shortage crisis is a result of teachers leaving the profession. Our research suggests attrition will continue, with only 28% of teachers indicating they plan to stay in the job until retirement, and almost 50% planning to leave within the next ten years.
There is also a lot of attention on teachers leaving the profession within their first five years. But we found those who had been in the profession for six-to-ten years were the most likely to be planning to leave. This suggests the more significant issues are those experienced on the job rather than while studying.
2. More trust
The other big element missing from this draft is trust. Australia has a history of blaming teacher quality for problems in education.
Policy responses have suggested teachers can’t be trusted to do their jobs well. We require teachers to constantly account for their professional decisions through excessive data collection and narrow performance-based markers (such as the NAPLAN tests).
Our research showed the lack of trust erodes Australian teachers’ commitment to, and passion for their work. As one teacher told us:
It’s not the profession I want to remain in. I became a teacher to educate and inspire students, not to push agendas and collect data.
When it comes to keeping teachers in the classroom where they are needed, we need to trust they are well-trained and committed to delivering the best for all their students.
If not, teachers will not feel respected, will be burdened by unrealistic workloads and they will not stay.
Fiona Longmuir, Lecturer - Educational Leadership, Monash University; Kelly-Ann Allen, Associate Professor, School of Educational Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Education, Monash University, and Michael Phillips, Associate Professor, Digital Transformation, Monash UniversityRead Less
The Draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan (Plan) has been developed to address teacher shortages by helping to attract and retain more people in the teaching profession.
The Plan includes 28 actions across six priority areas:
- Elevating the profession
- Improving teacher supply
- Strengthening initial teacher education
- Maximising the time to teach
- Better understanding of future teacher workforce needs
- Better career pathways to support and retain teachers in the profession
ACPPA have made two submissions, one together with APPA and a further submission together with the NCEC.
Individuals can also make submissions.Read Less
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The Productivity Commission has just released a review of school standards in Australia. It finds we “persistently fall short” when it comes to providing a high quality and equitable education for all students.
Coming in at 253 pages, there is a lot to read. And a lot we already know.
But this report comes at a crucial time for Australian education. Outcomes are slipping, despite repeated attempts to improve them. And teacher shortages mean we need urgent measures as well as long-term changes.
Why do we have this review?
In April this year, former treasurer Josh Frydenberg asked the Productivity Commission to review the National School Reform Agreement. This sets out nationally agreed initiatives for the next five years between the federal government, states and territories.
It is focused on three main areas: supporting students, supporting teaching and improving the data we have on schools in Australia. The next agreement is due to be signed in late 2023.
On Wednesday, the commission released its interim findings ahead of the final report to be delivered in December, when education ministers will begin hashing out a new agreement for the next five years.
What’s in the report?
There is little in this report we have not seen before. But the interim report certainly raises many key issues.
The report found too many students are falling behind. Every year, between 5% and 9% of Australian students do not meet year-level expectations in literacy or numeracy.
Student wellbeing is of significant concern, with one in five young people aged 11-17 reporting high levels of psychological distress, even before the pandemic.
Despite talk about improving results for Aboriginal students and those in rural and remote areas, and students with disabilities, it says, “governments are yet to demonstrate results in improving equity”. It calls for new strategies, developed with students, parents and communities, to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We already know teacher shortages are an issue – and state and federal governments are working separately on a new workforce plan for teachers, also due in December.
Additionally, the report found teachers are overworked with “low-value tasks” and burned out. Work-life balance and wellbeing were the key reasons why teachers wanted to leave the profession.
What can we do?
There are no quick or easy fixes. But here are three practical solutions government can adopt now to improve the school system for teachers and students.
1. Quality teaching rounds
The commission’s report says quality teaching is key to improving student outcomes. It recommends teachers are given more time for planning and professional development.
The report also highlighted my work with colleagues on “quality teaching rounds” professional development. This approach brings teachers together to learn from each other, improve their teaching and lift student outcomes.
It is centred on three big ideas: a deep understanding of important knowledge, positive classrooms that boost learning, and connecting learning to students’ lives and the wider world.
Our evidence shows this approach has positive effects on teaching quality, teacher morale and student achievement, with greater impact in disadvantaged schools. This shows clear potential to narrow equity gaps and genuinely support teachers.
2. Support throughout teaching careers
The report acknowledges that school leadership roles are becoming more complex and demanding. It calls for the creation of a specific stream for aspiring school leaders.
This would see potential principals and other leaders (such as year-level and subject leaders) identified early in their careers and given specific support.
We also need a clear pathway from teaching degrees at university to induction in schools and ongoing development throughout teachers’ careers. This would mean teachers and school leaders are better equipped to do their jobs – and want to stay in the profession.
3. More funding for research
The report highlights the need for more evidence about what is working and what is not. It points out that previously agreed reforms for national data systems have stalled.
More than just creating systems of data, true reform requires rigorous research into all aspects of education.
Yet education does not receive the research dollars it deserves. For example, in the most recent round of the Australian Research Council’s discovery project grants, education received less than 1% of approved funds – some A$2.5 million of the A$258 million allocated.
If the government wants change, investing in educational research must be part of the next agreement.
What happens now?
Education in Australia has a history of reviews, reports, plans and great intentions.
But we are constantly let down by implementation of recommendations. Partly it’s due to organisational complexity. Not only do the federal and state governments have different responsibilities in education, but there is a gap between policy and what happens on the ground in classrooms.
But with a new government and universal attention to the problem of teacher shortages, there is a rare opportunity now for Australian schools. We have a chance to make changes that genuinely support teachers and lift student outcomes.
The commission is now asking for comments on its interim report by October 21.Read Less
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The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has published a NAPLAN 2023 social media kit. With NAPLAN moving to Term 1 in 2023, ACARA has provided the following media toolkit to share via your social media, school newsletters and websites to inform those in your school community of what NAPLAN in 2023 will look like as well as other useful resources.
We expect education to be a catalyst for more equitable and inclusive societies yet too often governments and systems deploy one-stop solutions without detailed plans for how exactly improvements will be achieved or at what costs.
The Building Education Systems for Equity and Inclusion report comes from an Academy of Social Sciences of Australia workshop I hosted at the Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW. Working with representatives from school systems, academia, professional associations, industry, and teachers, the report offers recommendations aimed at addressing inequities in the school system.
Recommendations centre on five key issues: intergenerational policy failure; the need to look beyond the school gate; raising the voice of the profession; data, evidence and research; and ensuring a focus on teaching and learning.
Intergenerational policy failure
While the Australian Government is spending more on education than at any point in history, disparity gaps endure for various equity groups on a range of outcomes. Needs- based funding tied to the implementation of evidence-based reforms hasve been distorted courtesy of the unique policy architecture of Australian federalism. School systems have limited resources with which to pursue their objectives and the design of school funding policies plays a key role in ensuring that resources are directed to where they can make the most difference.
Australian federalism means there is neither a national system nor a state/territory system of school-based education. Common critiques focus on overlap in responsibilities and duplication. Achieving uniformity is difficult, time consuming, and frequently limited to the lowest common denominator. However, education is a complex policy domain whose actions impact well beyond state or territory borders. Currently, no jurisdiction wants to be the first to admit there are problems meaning systems can deteriorate substantially before action is taken. Asserting jurisdiction independence and sovereignty surrenders some of the strengths of federalism and removes important failsafe mechanisms targeting overall health of the system.
A significant policy problem for education is the current teacher shortage. Substantial attention has been directed at Initial Teacher Education programs, and the attraction and retention of educators. Less focus has been granted to affordability of housing for teachers. With housing (ownership and rental) costs rising, servicing commitments on a teachers’ salary can be difficult – particularly in major cities. The ability to live near the place where one works, or the drivability or commuting infrastructure means that workforce planning needs to take a multi-dimensional approach built on more than just raising the public profile of the profession.
Beyond the school gate
Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data indicates that 22 per cent of children in the first year of formal schooling are vulnerable in at least one domain (e.g., physical, social, emotional, language, and communication), and 11 per cent in two. Early data indicates that the AEDC is a predictor of NAPLAN performance nine years later and with 8.1 per cent of early childhood providers operating with a staffing waiver due to a lack of qualified staff, early intervention is a difficult task.
School-based education exhibits many layers of segregation and stratification. The distribution of students from socio-educational disadvantage or requiring adjustment due to disability are not evenly distributed between sectors (government, catholic, and independent). Peer effects can influence outcomes as much as individual socio-economic status. Cultural context has a large effect (between 33 and 50 per cent) on student performance, and the further a school is located from major cities the lower level of student outcomes. Failure to control for segregation and stratification makes it impossible to identify the drivers of school improvement in different locations and better design interventions aimed at equity and inclusion.
Voice of the profession
Education is seen as ‘a’ if not ‘the’ solution to most social issues and the result is that schools are constantly being asked to do more without having anything removed. Many of the decisions to add things to schooling take place without any engagement or consultation with educators – not education bureaucracies but the educators who work in schools. The result is frequent changes in curriculum documents, additional mandatory training programs, shifting accreditation requirements, updated and expansive administrative requirements, all with negligible impact on student outcomes. This not just intensified teachers’ work but de-democratising the profession. TALIS data indicates that only 28.7 per cent of Australian teachers feel that their views are valued by policy makers. With declining educator well-being and in the context of a teacher shortage, it is timely to establish a forum for representatives from the profession to have a voice in decisions regarding the form, objectives, targets, and outcomes of schooling as articulated in the national agenda.
Data, evidence, research
Improving the equity of education is not possible without data and evidence. You cannot improve that which you do not measure and monitor. An effective school education system needs sufficient data points and appropriate data linkage to understand how well it is performing and robust evidence to identify priority areas for planning, intervention, and policy. While the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia details nationally agreed performance indicators, inconsistencies across states and territories datasets means that crucial insights for informing policy at a national level are being lost. Data linkage is an urgent task for understanding the relationships between multiple factors and their impact on education and social outcomes to inform effective policy making, program design and research at a national scale.
Systems and schools that embed data-driven evaluation as a core professional responsibility have a greater impact on student outcomes. This has led to schools increasingly being asked to provide evidence of their impact. At the same time, despite an impressive track record, education research is under-funded. Despite the establishment of the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) seeking to position Australian educators at the forefront of education research, without increases in total funding available, it is unlikely that research of the scale and scope necessary to effectively inform policy can be conducted. A promising avenue for increasing the quality of evidence and data use in schools and systems is co-design. However, it requires strategic leadership and matching incentives (including funding mechanisms) to better enable a systemic approach to research use, knowledge translation and breaking down boundaries between stakeholders.
Focus on teaching and learning
Pedagogical reform is a low-cost high-return approach to addressing distortions in a school system. Australian research (for example, Quality Teaching Rounds) has demonstrated that targeted and tailored interventions can positively impact student outcomes and teacher well-being. Yet, 76 per cent of teachers describe their workload as unmanageable. Australian schools have more instructional hours (828) than the OECD average (713), with teachers engaged in far more administration and school management than higher performing systems (e.g., Finland, Estonia). Attempts to recognise quality teaching through accreditation have received little uptake with only 0.33 per cent of the workforce certified at Highly Accomplished or Lead. Addressing equity and inclusion requires attention to how systems are designed to focus on the instructional core of schooling and making sure that resources (human, physical, and financial) are targeted towards achieving the highest quality of teaching in every classroom.
As the world re-sets to life under pandemic, the internal tensions for differentiation and external pressures for standardisation on education policy have never been greater. With increasing costs for public services at the same time as government revenue and household incomes falling, issues of educational equity, inclusion and excellence are amplified. The pressure to consolidate resources and pursue cost efficiencies will be felt most significantly by the poorest and most marginalised children and communities throughout the country. The stakes are high. Education is critical to human welfare, especially in times of rapid economic and social change.
Ensuring that resourcing and oversight focuses on the health of the system, with wraparound services supporting the workforce to have a voice and what they need for high quality instruction give Australian school systems the best chance of delivering equitable outcomes for all.
Participants in the workshop
Professor Scott Eacott, Gonski Institute for Education, UNSW Sydney
Professor Eileen Baldry, UNSW Sydney
Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Teachers and Teaching Research Centre, University of Newcastle
Professor Chris Pettit, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Professor Suzanne Carrington, Centre for Inclusive Education, QUT
Dr Goran Lazendic, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
Dr Virginia Moller, Steiner Education Australia
Dr Rachel Perry, NSW AIS Evidence Institute
Dr Bala Soundararaj, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Rebecca Birch, Teacher, Independent School
Cecilia Bradley, Australasian Democratic Education Community
Zeina Chalich, Principal, Catholic Education
Mark Breckenridge, Australian Secondary School Principals’ Association
Elizabeth Goor, Montessori Australia
Alice Leung, Head Teacher, Concord High School
Alex Ioannou, Montessori Australia
Matthew Johnson, Australian Special Education Leaders and Principals’ Association
Maura Manning, Catholic Education Parramatta
Andrew Pierpoint, Australian Secondary School Principals’ Association
Daniel Pinchas, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)
Diane Robertson, Principal, NSW Department of Education
Michael Sciffer, PhD Candidate, Murdoch University
Scott Eacott PhD, is deputy director of the Gonski Institute for Education, and professor of education in the School of Education at UNSW Sydney and adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Saskatchewan.