Australian Science Teachers Association

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Submitter information


Australian Science Teachers Association

Where are you located?

Australian Capital Territory

What type of area do you live in?


Are you an education professional?
(e.g. teacher, school leader, learning support assistant, teacher’s aide)


Which sector do you work in?


What is your occupation?

Our submission has been developed by Board members who are teachers and school leaders

Elevating the profession

The actions proposed recognise the value teachers bring to students, communities and the economy.

Somewhat disagree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 1 - is unclear & vague. Existing state campaigns referred to as egs. are not achieving the desired outcomes & have limited reach with teachers across the sectors. We see this action as being resource intensive & wonder of the cost effectiveness of such a strategy. We recognise that any such campaign would take significant time & require ongoing resource commitment. Should this action progress, significant effort in determining the evaluation benchmarks will be important & ongoing evaluation essential. The Professional Teachers Associations would be ideal partners in the delivery of these types of campaigns. Specifically, as the Australian Science Teachers Association we would be well placed to support the government to raise awareness of the value of being a science teacher. ACTION 2.We have concerns regarding the creation of national teachers awards in the absence of initiatives to address the more substantive issues being faced by teachers. This type of national recognition highlights the best & brightest & creates a binary relationship between awardees of which by nature there would be few, and the rest of the profession. Most of whom work hard & should be recognised for the value they contribute to society. In Science we already have the PM Prizes which includes a prize for both primary & secondary teachers. The application process is onerous for the, already time poor, teachers. As these are competitive in nature those who are unsuccessful can feel a devaluation from the experience. Everyday science teachers need to be highlighted not just the few receiving awards. There are some incredible stories related to science teachers who have supported students that have progressed into groundbreaking careers. ACTION 3. The Order of Australia Medals can be viewed as tokenistic without addressing some of the deeper issues being faced. To be successful the teachers & the school communities would need champions who would step up and nominate them. This would require a concerted & strategic communication campaign. ACTION 4. The HALT system is not understood by the community and therefore will not address the value of the role or the status of the teaching.

Improving teacher supply

The actions proposed will be effective in increasing the number of students entering ITE, number of students completing ITE and the number of teachers staying in and/or returning to the profession.

Somewhat disagree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 5: Evidence suggests that 30 - 50% of university enrollments drop during the course. This drop rate tends to be around the timing of the students' placements in schools. Further, that 50% don’t last into their first 5 years of teaching. This evidence suggests that in isolation the creation of teaching places at universities will not address the issue of teacher shortage. Given drop rates, investment in the creation of university places could result in a waste of money.
ACTION 6: Given the Government’s agenda of powering the nation through innovation and technology. We would advocate for a quota of these positions to be allocated to positions in the STEM disciplines.
ACTION 7: We question the modelling that has been used to nominate a specific number of places. We would be concerned if the number of places proposed ends up being insufficient to address the need, it will likely exacerbate the issue and/or be a waste of resources. We question the efficacy of actions 6 and 7 to entice students into the profession especially when compared to other disciplines eg engineering. ACTION 8: We support the trialling of new ways of attracting and keeping teachers in schools. Research undertaken by ASTA uncovered that up to 40% of teachers may be teaching out of their subject area. Addressing this issue will require both increasing the motivation to enter the teaching profession and addressing blockers to retention. Notably: Increasing the social status of teachers STEM trained teaching positions should be remunerated in line with science industry positions. Reducing teacher workloads through reduction of administrative and non teaching tasks. The Professional Teachers Associations are well placed to be working with the Government in the development and delivery of trials. ACTION 9: We advise caution on attracting teachers from overseas jurisdictions as an action to address teacher supply. We are aware this has been trialled before in various jurisdictions and anecdotal evidence suggests there are limitations with this strategy. Should the Government progress with this strategy we recommend a longitudinal cost benefit analysis framework be developed.

Strengthening Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

The actions proposed will ensure initial teacher education supports teacher supply and quality.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 10: We welcome the review of ITE that is being undertaken by Prof. Mark Scott, however, raise caution over the intent being to raise graduation rates in & of itself. Any review & recommendations needs to focus on ensuring high quality & committed graduates. Areas of concern regarding teachers education includes: insufficient practical hours for ITEs, university lecturers with limited & out of date connection with the curriculum & the classroom. University classroom activities that had limited relationship to reality. Lack of practical discipline based pedagogy.
Further ideas to support ITEs: Increase support & incentives for schools to take on practical students, Paid internships and other pathways, particularly for paraprofessionals,Establish secondments for experienced school teachers to teach at universities at teachers’ current pay levels and vice versa (university education lecturers to teach in schools at their current pay rate). Early teachers get supported with additional time off for the first few years of teaching for mentoring, professional development or reflective practices. (it is noted that at least 50% of new teachers leave the profession within the first 3-5 years),A mentor program that supports ITEs through first 5 years. ACTION 11: We support the proposed action 11, however given the Government’s agenda for technology and innovation believe that Science and or STEM should be specifically noted alongside the other listed subjects. We ask that the Australian Science Teachers Association be listed as a key stakeholder to work with Universities to identify criteria for science teaching specific RPL. ACTION 12: We support increased consultation with First Nations People and note the peak bodies listed in next steps. We would also encourage the Government to include Deadly Science as part of their consultations. ACTION 13: We support literacy testing, however recognise that this could be problematic. As proposed in the plan we believe the testing should be done pre or early in their studies for ITEs and that significant support should be provided to ensure that there is a minimal standard of literacy and numeracy in graduating students.

Maximising the time to teach

The actions proposed will improve retention and free up teachers to focus on teaching and collaboration.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 14: We see this issue as being the most pressing & would support a reduced focus on other action areas to increase the focus & resources on this issue. We support the piloting of specific approaches & would welcome ongoing transparency regarding the initiatives being trialled. Successful communication of the results is essential to ensure that lessons learned are able to be adopted in real-time across other schools and jurisdictions. ACTION 15: We support the intention to build on the work being undertaken in states & territories to reduce workload. Specifically, the focus in Victoria to ensure that the maximum face-to-face teaching time for primary, secondary and specialist teachers in Victoria is being reduced by one hour in 2023, and a further half-hour in 2024. We would support the Federal Minister for Education advocating for this with their fellow state & territory education ministers to ensure a nationally coordinated approach. With respect to evaluating any initiatives that are focussed specifically on supporting Science Teachers to reduce their workload, we welcome the opportunity to work with schools, sectors & the government on assessing the effectiveness of the measures with our constituencies. ACTION16:The Professional Teachers Associations are best placed to deliver any professional development in relation to the new curriculum. We welcome the opportunity to work with ACARA & AERO in recommending optimal supports for the implementation of the Australian Curriculum. With respect to impact of the review cycle, the most onerous part of the process is the lack of adoption at the state level. We recommend that states adopt the Australian Curriculum thereby reducing the impact of the review, adoption & implementation cycles. ACTION 17: We support the introduction of a Teacher Workload Impact Assessment. The Professional Teachers Association alongside the other stakeholders listed are well placed to work with the Government on the development of these assessments. ACTION 18: We strongly support the intention to undertake an impact analysis on the initiatives in 2024. We note the citing of some state strategies where there is no evidence.

Better understanding future teacher workforce needs

How effective are the proposed actions in better understanding future teacher workforce needs, including the number of teachers required?

Moderately effective

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 19: Consideration in the analysis of this data should be given to the Government’s national agenda to ensure there is an adequate pipeline of suitably qualified students moving into desired professions. Noting the Government’s focus on innovation and technology, we would argue that greater consideration be given to the science disciplines.
ACTION 20: We support a committed effort to greater understand the issue of teacher workforce through the lens of ITE graduate data.The Professional Teacher Associations would be well placed to assist the Government in this initiative.
ACTION 21: We support the establishment of a National Quality Framework and nationally consistent standards for initial teacher education. We note that NSW has recently been through a significant review of their accreditation processes and that this caused significant upheaval across the sector. Careful consideration must be given to a reasonable framework for the implementation of any National Quality Framework. Of note we would like to draw your attention to the National Professional Standards for Highly Accomplished Teachers of Science. -
ACTION 22: It is unclear how this action addresses the objective of better understanding future teacher workforce needs. It is better placed in the objective related to supply. Having said that, we support the action to increase supply. Further with respect to both action 21 and 22, we recommend the amount of work required for teacher progression be reduced. Notably the progression between proficient to highly accomplished should be time related not dependent on portfolios but reviewed by the schools with a minimum of 10 years.
ACTION 23:We strongly support the action. Currently insufficient data is being collected and where it is collected it is siloed within the sectors. Given that Professional Teacher Associations work across sectors we would be well placed to assist the Government in this initiative. Anecdotally we are aware that workload and pay are the main issues for teachers leaving the profession. Along with classroom behaviour management and teachers not feeling safe in their workplace.

Better career pathways to support and retain teachers in the profession

The proposed actions will improve career pathways, including through streamlining the process for Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (HALT) accreditation, and providing better professional support for teachers to retain them in the profession.

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

ACTION 24: We welcome the intent to support career pathways, however note the risk of losing teachers to the management pathway at the expense of maintaining classroom teachers. This will require the promotion & improvement of working conditions for the classroom teachers. We caution against the movement of teachers from other subjects to science without ongoing & substantial scientific training of approximately a 3 year degree. The requirement to understand scientific thinking & be expert in a science discipline is essential to quality teaching in any of the sciences. Given our Federated structure we have the capacity to engage in this work at a state & territory jurisdictional level & have produced Teaching Standards for Science Teachers. ACTION 25: PTAs across Australia exist to support teachers across their lifecycle, including early career teachers. Across the federation we have robust logic models for the delivery of professional learning including mentoring, existing mentoring programs being delivered for both early careers and school leaders. Whilst we support the development of national guidelines it would be remiss if we were not included in these conversations. Given the current operations of Science Teachers Associations across Australia we would be well placed to assist the Government in this initiative. ACTION 26: We support increased cultural competency. We note the extensive work undertaken by Narragunnawali & recommend that efforts are directed to increase the scope & reach of this service as opposed to creating or developing anything new. Having said that we recognise the need for local level cultural competency, however believe the resources provided by Narragunnawali will support this endeavour. Further we note the need for Employers to take on the responsibility of supporting cultural competency amongst the staff & supporting staff to ensure competency. ACTION 27: We agree with this action & strongly support any reduction of the workload for HALT practitioners however have reservations about HALT. ACTION 28: PTAs are well placed to develop micro-credentials that are curriculum or classroom related. We would like to tender.