Improved support for beginning teachers

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

All permanent beginning teachers appointed from the start of this year will receive additional release and support.

Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced the additional support as one of the strategies outlined in Great Teaching, Inspired Learning.

For many years Federation has campaigned for beginning teachers to have a reduced teaching workload, with an extra two hours release per week in addition to release or non-teaching periods currently available to all teachers, as well as mentoring to support their induction as teachers. Federation believes this additional support should be provided to all beginning teachers: permanent, temporary and casual. However, the Minister has determined that the additional support will only apply to beginning teachers who are permanently appointed from the beginning of 2014 and where it is their first appointment with the Department of Education and Communities.

Federation has met with the Department to discuss the arrangements around this additional support. The Department has advised that schools will receive funding to provide these teachers with the equivalent of two hours additional release per week in their first year and just one additional hour of release in their second year. This funding will be delivered at different times during the school year to take account of the fact that beginning teachers may be appointed at any time during the year.

Consistent with existing policy and practice there will be the possibility for this time to be accumulated. However, the allocation of release for each term should be used within the term. The additional release is to be provided to support the probationary teacher in a range of ways including:

  • observing other teachers’ lessons
  • engaging in professional discussion and personal reflection
  • developing capacity in preparing lessons and resources
  • developing capacity in the design of assessment tasks and analysis of student outcome data
  • undertaking individualised programs of professional learning
  • compiling evidence to achieve accreditation at the level of Proficient with the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BoSTES).

The release time should be clearly and regularly scheduled as part of the probationary teacher’s professional learning plan.

Permanent beginning teachers appointed in 2013 or before will not be provided with this additional support in either their first or second year.

In addition to the additional release, schools will be funded to allow the equivalent of one hour per week release to an experienced teacher who will provide mentoring support during the permanent beginning teacher’s first year of teaching. It will be possible for this release to be accumulated but it should be clearly and regularly scheduled. These mentors will be experienced teachers who may not necessarily be the beginning teacher’s supervisor. It will be possible for a mentor to mentor more than one beginning teacher and the additional release will be allocated based on the number of permanent beginning teachers in their first year. Federation has raised the need to provide guidance around the appointment of mentors.

The Department has advised Federation that it will develop communications and guidance for schools to clarify roles and responsibilities of principals and staff around “best practice” induction support models for beginning teachers.

The Minister also announced that eight new teacher mentors will be appointed across approximately 40 schools with significant numbers of beginning temporary teachers. While the eight mentors will each be based in one school they will work with temporary teachers across up to five schools. Four of these positions will be allocated to support beginning temporary teachers in rural and remote schools. Federation will continue to call for more support for beginning casual and temporary teachers.

Federation will seek discussions around what models of support may constitute “best practice” for induction.

If members have difficulty accessing the additional support they should contact their Federation Organiser.