Page 5535 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 9 December 2009

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Teachers—professional development

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. The classroom management and instructional strategies program signed in conjunction with the AEU provides teachers with PD in classroom strategy and cooperative learning techniques, with the aim of improving student outcomes. Rather than leaving it to individual schools and the AEU, is it planned to continue the high-quality program centrally through the Department of Education and Training in order to assist in the PD of teachers and assistants?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. In relation to the suite of professional development courses that are available and offered through the department’s various programs, it is always a challenge to strike that balance between system-wide initiatives and initiatives that are targeted at particular schools.

In relation to the program that Ms Hunter refers to, I am aware that there has been considerable success with and strong support for that particular program but, of course, the application within an individual school setting is a matter under our school-based management system that we do devolve to individual schools to make decisions in relation to the needs of their particular staff. Principals clearly have a role in working with their staff to ensure that the full range of programs that are offered by the education department are able to be accessed.

I have some concerns about mandating that professional development courses must be undertaken by every teacher and in every context because, clearly within a system of 3,000 teachers, there are going to be some who have already undertaken that work and who already have skills in that particular area for whom a mandated, department-wide professional development course would be unnecessary because they already have those skills. But there would be other contexts where—for example, if we were introducing an initiative and there was a new area that we wanted all teachers to have the appropriate skill—yes, it would be appropriate for there to be system-wide accreditation.

In relation to the particular program, I am happy to have some further discussions with the department. I certainly have not been approached by schools or by the union, indicating that they would like this to be made compulsory, effectively, for all teachers. I certainly acknowledge the value of the program and its continuity is important.

Of course we must also be aware that the development of professional development courses is an ongoing matter and that needs will change across our system and from school to school. In the context of some other broader policy work in relation to, for example, the school-based management review and what is the appropriate balance between system-wide, departmental controlled and individual school controlled programs, these issues need to be thought through in that context as well.

I am certainly aware, though, that, as we move forward, there will be a need for change in relation to that balance between what is a system-wide, departmental

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