RESEARCH consistently finds that quality teaching is the leading in-school influence on student outcomes, with quality school leadership not far behind. All Australian governments recognise this fact and education ministers have recently endorsed two important statements on how to improve the quality of teaching and leadership in Australia's schools.
There is growing evidence that teachers thrive in a culture focused on improving teaching to enhance student outcomes and characterised by frequent feedback, coaching and access to high-quality professional learning. Ministers have endorsed the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework and the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders, both developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.
Taken together, these statements are a call to action for all involved in Australian education to create a culture of performance and development that gives every teacher in every school the support to grow and develop as a professional. Both statements are grounded in evidence about the best ways to improve teacher and school-leader practice in order to have the maximum impact on student outcomes. The framework describes the entitlement of all teachers to work in environments where they know what is expected of them, receive ongoing, meaningful feedback on their teaching, and have access to high-quality support to improve their practice.
The framework aims to ensure that genuine professional conversations, and associated development, become the norm in all Australian schools.
The charter describes what high-quality professional learning looks like. Research indicates the most effective professional learning is relevant, future focused and collaborative. Simply, change is more likely to occur when teachers and school leaders are operating in a culture where learning is encouraged, nurtured and supported.
There is also evidence that some forms of professional learning affect practice and student outcomes more than others. Generally, sustained work on real problems, with support, has a greater impact than one-off activities. The charter seeks to help Australian teachers realise the benefits of effective and relevant professional learning.
Work now begins towards implementing the framework and the charter across Australia. This is truly a transformational time for the profession.
Tony Mackay is the chairman of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. To find more information about the framework and charter, see newsroom.aitsl.edu.au/.