Page 1441 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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MS PORTER: My question, through you, Madam Speaker, is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, I refer to the ACT government’s commitment to pay its best teachers six-figure salaries. Could you update the Assembly on this important initiative?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for the question and the opportunity to report on this good, transformative initiative. The government has consistently taken the view that we have a moral and social responsibility to give children and young people in the ACT the best possible education. That has meant massive investment in building and upgrading school infrastructure and technologies for learning in the 21st century. It has meant employing extra teachers, ensuring that students learn and thrive in the classroom and a more strategic and targeted approach to school improvement. It has meant upgrading administrative staff in schools to ensure teachers are better supported and can concentrate on their key role—educating students. And it continues to mean a long-term focus on teacher quality.

All the research evidence clearly points to the quality of the teacher in the classroom as the most influential factor in student engagement, learning and achievement. Improving teacher capacity through in-class coaching and support is the most effective way to improve student performance. This vision was included in the commitment to pay our best classroom teachers a salary of more than $100,000 and to provide agreed paths and incentives to keep our best teachers in the classroom where they are needed most.’

This concept was fleshed out in the current enterprise agreement, providing positions with a focus on exemplary classroom teaching and capacity building in teaching practice. The government is now implementing these leadership positions, known as executive teacher (professional practice), in schools. This new leadership position has the classroom as its major focus. The intention is to build capacity in teaching practice with improved student outcomes as a result.

The role of professional practice teachers includes modelling exemplary classroom teaching, coaching and mentoring teachers and student teachers and leading professional learning programs. Twenty-one centrally funded positions have been identified in schools for this year, with further positions being identified next year.

A merit selection process commenced in term 4 of last year when 10 teachers were selected. The selection process is continuing this year, and applications close, as I understand, this week. Successful applicants will be matched to positions in schools and the appointment is likely to start from term 3, as I understand. Another selection process will take place later in the year to fill the positions for next year. This rigorous process ensures that our very best classroom teachers are recognised, and it will ensure that they are placed in schools where they will continue to do an exemplary job in the classroom as well as help build the capacity of their colleagues to do otherwise.

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