The Federal Government has announced a $20.5m funding boost for its Teach for Australia (TFA) program. The funding will run until 2021 and see up to 300 more teachers participate.
TFA – which has been running since 2009 – provides non-teachers three months of intensive training prior to a two-year placement at a regional or low-socio-economic school. During this time, they work towards a Master of Teaching degree.
The program has a strong focus on peer observation, professional development and intensive mentoring, common practices in the world’s most effective and high-achieving schooling systems.
In a statement, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said there was “a growing body of evidence” that the program is making a positive impact in classrooms.
“The data shows that after two years in the classroom almost 90% of principals considered TFA graduates to be more effective teachers than other graduate teachers with the same level of classroom experience,” Birmingham said.
TFA’s CEO, Melodie Potts Rosevear, told The Educator that now more than ever, targeted investments that help foster excellence and equity are needed.
“This funding, coupled with ongoing support from state and territory governments and the philanthropic sector, means that Teach For Australia can grow our school partnerships and continue to attract, develop and support additional teachers and leaders, reaching an additional 50,000 students from low socioeconomic communities,” she said, adding that the TFA has been encouraged by the growing interest people are showing to work and contribute in areas of high need and to join this “incredibly valuable and challenging profession”.
“We know the main motivation applicants have is to make a difference in contexts that have additional challenges – such as low income, geography or access – and to be supported and developed as both teachers and leaders,” she said.
“We believe teaching is an act of leadership in itself. Applicants are drawn to the mission and camaraderie of the program as well as to its design that allows them to concurrently teach, learn and earn and have a very powerful and supported entry into teaching. They know it will be hard and that is also in some way part of the attraction, but they most look forward to meeting their students and the relationships they will form together. At the end of the day, that is the biggest motivator of all. I think this rings true for all teachers."
Last year, Potts Rosevear explained that the declining retention rate of new teachers had prompted TFA to provide better support for early-career teachers – something she said has been sorely lacking.
“Graduate teachers are abandoning the profession because they feel unprepared for the realities of teaching,” she said, adding that new teachers need to be supported through effective inductions, in-school mentoring and specialist coaching.
“They also need access to high-quality professional development that supports them to work with other teachers, develop their instruction to meet their students’ needs, evaluate their impact on student learning and enhance their leadership capabilities.”
In TFA’s latest round of offers, it received more than 1,500 applications for just 130 positions. Potts Rosevear pointed out that 65% of those who complete the program remained in classrooms as teachers in the long term.