Leading education organisation MultiLit welcomes the recommendations of the Teacher Education Expert Panel and subsequent commitment by federal, state, and territory education ministers to reform initial teacher training.
The Panel’s report, Strong Beginnings, makes a compelling case for strengthening initial teacher education (ITE) programs with the aim of producing more evidence-informed and effective schoolteachers.
Having rightly identified a lack of consistent quality across ITE programs, the panel has recommended mandatory core content for inclusion in all courses, including:
- The brain and learning: content that provides teachers with an understanding of why specific instructional practices work, and how to implement these practices.
- Effective pedagogical practices: practices including explicit modelling, scaffolding, formative assessment, and literacy and numeracy teaching strategies that support student learning because they respond to how the brain processes, stores, and retrieves information.
- Classroom management: practices that foster positive learning environments.
- Responsive teaching: content that ensures teachers teach in ways that are culturally and contextually appropriate and responsive to student need.
With a dedicated research unit aligned with Macquarie University, MultiLit is committed to the research and development of programs, professional development, and resources to support effective reading and spelling instruction and managing positive classroom behaviour.
Our researchers and teaching experts have supported thousands of schools to implement evidence-based literacy instruction, while our literacy centres provide one-on-one tuition for children who need additional support to catch up on their reading. Many of these children can be described as “instructional casualties”, meaning they had not previously benefitted from evidence-based classroom teaching, such as explicit and systematic instruction in phonics.
The Productivity Commission recently highlighted the shortcomings of Australia’s education system, revealing that tens of thousands of students do not achieve basic levels of literacy and numeracy each year. Tellingly, 85 per cent of these students have no known disability or geographical, social, or educational disadvantage that could explain their underperformance.
MultiLit acknowledges the impact effective teaching has on student learning. We believe that the current high rate of reading failure in this country could be dramatically reduced if all schools adhered to evidence-based teaching strategies.
In order for this to happen, however, all ITE courses must include core content that reflects the knowledge and evidence-based practices that equip graduate teachers to have the greatest impact on student learning.
Given this is likely to present a challenge for many ITE providers, it is appropriate that the government consider oversight, transparency, and accountability measures. Children’s educational attainment is too critical an issue to allow the status quo to continue.
MultiLit congratulates education ministers for their bipartisanship on this important issue and their in-principle agreement to all 14 of the Panel’s recommendations.
We look forward to the rollout of substantial reform actions as a matter of urgency so that every teacher is well-equipped to provide every child with the best start in their educational journey.