Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented

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Submitter information


Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented

Where are you located?

New South Wales

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?

Primary, Secondary and Special Education

What is your occupation?

School leader

Elevating the profession

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

Somewhat agree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

For many years, Australian teachers have faced a status challenge. It appears that years of tertiary study or contribution to improving the future of the nation by building the skills of students pale in comparison to salary status. Australian teachers strive to educate and prepare our future workforce for a prosperous Australia. Additionally, teachers of gifted students are tasked with nourishing growth and excellence in these bright minds. Effective gifted education provision seeks to equip gifted students for excellence in our future workforce, highlighting the necessity of contribution to a prosperous Australia.
Earlier this year the AAEGT shared part of the Public Education Foundation (AAEGT Facebook, July 19, 2022), “Public Education, Building Great Australian Lives Campaign”. The Adam Hills segments resonated with our members. It spoke of the value of the NSW Public Schools Opportunity Classes and brought encouragement and recognitions to all our teacher members who teach in this program or a similar program for gifted students.
The AAEGT supports a campaign to remind the community of the contribution of teachers. However, the campaign proposed in the draft plan is too narrow and does not mention gifted students. Our members would be very disappointed if a Government Action Plan selects only a few areas within the diverse range of subjects and student groups that educators teach. At the coal face, teachers are guiding gifted students through the most incredible work! They need to be included in the Action Plan.
Similarly, our members would like to see the categories expanded to include gifted education teachers in the new Australian Teacher of the Year Awards. This would appropriately replicate the actions of New Zealand's Ministry of Education. Currently, the Australian Government is sadly sending the message that teaching students with one set of characteristics is more important to our nation than teachers who have specialized in teaching gifted students.

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?

The AAEGT supports the Australian Government decision to provide additional funding for Commonwealth Supported Places, boosting bursaries and providing more places for the High Achieving Teachers program. However, the lack of universities that provide a compulsory unit, or elective unit, in gifted education in their preservice programs is a problem that needs addressing. This is despite Australian schools being responsible for effective education for our 400, 000 gifted students.
One of the goals of the Action Plan is to increase the number of individuals entering the teaching profession and to retain them. Both parents and teachers across Australia report to the AAEGT that one of the core issues they experience is the lack of teachers equipped with the knowledge to identify and effectively educate gifted students.
Part of a teachers’ skillset is participating in the parent/teacher partnership, working to common goals, and understanding a student and their needs.
Consider this scenario: Parent A goes to the school to speak to their child’s teacher, Teacher A, about giftedness and what adjustments their child needs to receive an effective education. Teacher A recalls giftedness was mentioned very briefly during her university training but, it was not part of a formal course. Teacher A says they have not identified the student as gifted. The student is doing well, achieving C grades. Parent A, having investigated gifted students, goes to a private psychologist, and pays to have the student appropriately assessed. Parent A speaks to their child’s teacher again showing Teacher A the report, which identifies the child as gifted. Teacher A is embarrassed by previous comments about the child not being gifted. The teacher failed to identify the student. Parent A requests that the provisions for gifted learning outlined in the report be included in the classroom. Teacher A feels ill-equipped to provide for the needs of the gifted child. Teacher A needs to take additional time to learn how to cater for the needs of gifted learners, as it was not included in preservice teacher training.
Teachers face increased workplace pressure when their ITE degree is lacking.

Strengthening Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

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

Somewhat disagree

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

Whilst it is commendable to strengthen the link between performance and funding of ITE, for AAEGT members it is also essential to look at the content of ITE. Classroom teachers should not be considered ready to “deliver effective classroom content” if they have not completed a university-based unit in gifted education.
The Australian Government and federal education bodies continue to fail to include gifted education in ITE in their documentation. Our children, when students at school, get a close look at what is involved in teaching as a profession. However, for a number of gifted students in Australian schools, both academic and social emotional have not been met. Their educators have been poorly equipped in effective gifted education provision struggle to understand gifted students, nor meet their needs.
This may be one reason why teaching profession and ITE courses are not as attractive to gifted students to move into, because as a profession, classroom teacher and school principals often fail to meet the needs of gifted students at school. Why work in a profession that marked your schooling years with underwhelm, lack of challenge and disconnect?
While gifted students exist in every school, every classroom and across every demographic, they may never meet a teacher who has completed the equivalent of a semester based unit in gifted education.
The majority of the AAEGT professional teaching members have undertaken or are undertaking post graduate study in gifted education to support gifted learners. This should have already been in place in their pre-service education.
Furthermore, the AAEGT supports Actions 12 and 13. Action 13 has become increasingly more important as universities move away from the exam-based ATAR process for degree admissions to preferring to use other admission criteria.

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?

The AAEGT supports Actions 14 through 16.
The AAEGT supports the concept presented in Action 17. However, better outcomes would be achieved if the expertise in the room is broadened to include Organisational Psychologists who are specialists in workplace structure and organisations . Due to their specialist training, Organisational Psychologists have a broader toolkit to assist with this task.
The AAEGT does not support Action 18. The AAEGT believes that the role and function of initial teacher education students should not be part of this action point. Initial teacher education students often suffer financially when in schools on unpaid practicum.
Our members report that in some of our schools, teaching assistants are also enrolled in ITE degrees. This is beneficial for the skills these people are developing for their future role as a teacher. However, it puts pressure on the school system, and especially classroom teachers, when the schools assistants themselves are participating in a practicum - which is usually in a different school.
We do support the work to identify the most effective use of teaching assistants and non-teaching staff in more ways to reduce the high workload burden on our teachers.

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?

Very effective

Would you like to provide feedback about these actions?

The AAEGT supports Actions 19 through 23. Regarding Action 23, we highly support the very important collection and creation of this database. The AAEGT recommends that an addition to the dataset be made examining why some ITE graduates complete the course but never move into a teaching role.

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?

The AAEGT supports Actions 24 through 28.
With additional comment to Action 25:
Any guidelines AITSL make must include the specialty area of gifted education. There is a need to develop a cross schools/sectors community for teachers with qualifications/practice in areas where there may be only one teacher within that specialty and within that school community. The growing bank of research around the effectiveness of Community of Practice highlights this as an appropriate inclusion for supporting our teachers. Our members report experiencing a degree of isolation and professional loneliness when they are the only teacher with qualifications and experience in gifted education at their school. Our gifted education teaching specialists are in limited supply. However, it is expected that more people would be encouraged to enter the specialty field if there was acceptance of the specialty area by AITSL and between school support specialist structures in place.