Initial Teacher Education

Selection of Pre-Service Teachers

Quality teaching is critical to improved student outcomes. The impact of initial teacher education graduates sets the foundation for a high quality teaching workforce. Rigorous candidate selection procedures that maximise the likelihood that those entering the profession will become effective teachers will support the quality of teaching in Australia.

What have we done?

The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group found strong support for a sophisticated, blended approach to selection of candidates, taking into account academic capability, literacy and numeracy skills and personal characteristics, in order to select the students who will make the best teachers.

The Australian Government has asked AITSL to develop and set clear expectations of universities in making sure that those going into teaching have the right mix of academic and personal qualities that give them the best chance of becoming effective teachers.

AITSL has developed Selection Guidelines that were agreed by all Australian Education Ministers in September 2015. 

Find out more: AITSL Selection guidelines (100kb pdf)


Find out more: Selection Guidelines: Factsheet (100kb pdf)

The Selection Guidelines state that all universities providing initial teacher education should:

  • Set both academic and non academic criteria and apply these to every student they admit to their programs
  • Publish information about their selection mechanisms to ensure transparency, including:
    • Selection mechanisms used
    • Threshold entry standards applied
    • Student cohort data
    • Any exemptions used

The new selection requirements have been incorporated into the revised Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programs in Australia: Standards and Procedures, which were agreed by Education Ministers in December 2015.

Selection forms a key part of the requirements that all initial teacher education programs must meet to gain or maintain accreditation. Universities will be required to provide a rationale for their approach to selection (including selection mechanisms and threshold entry standards applied).

Find out more: See Standards 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 in the revised Standards and Procedures (280KB PDF)

What will the outcome be?

In their report Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers, the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group identified a variety of selection mechanisms used by providers across Australia – some focused strongly on academic ability, and others more attuned to personal skills. Research suggests that for a person to become an effective teacher they need both: high overall literacy and numeracy skills, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and also a willingness to learn and the motivation to teach (Barber & Mourshead, 2007).

What's next?

The new requirements will apply to all new intakes of students from January 2017. All entrants will be required to demonstrate their academic and non-academic capabilities before admission to a program.

Why a focus on selection into initial teacher education programs?

In their report Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers, the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group identified a variety of selection mechanisms used by universities across Australia – some focused strongly on academic ability, and others more attuned to personal skills. Research suggests that for a person to become an effective teacher they need both: high overall literacy and numeracy skills, strong interpersonal and communication skills, and also a willingness to learn and the motivation to teach (Barber & Mourshead, 2007). 

What will the outcome be?

Through strengthened accreditation processes, programs being accredited will demonstrate that they select students who are most suited to teaching based on both academic and non-academic criteria, and that these selection mechanisms are having an impact on their graduating cohort. All universities  will be expected to publish data about the effectiveness of their selection mechanisms.

As a result, we can be confident that all pre-service teachers have been selected based on their likelihood of success in the profession, and equipped with the right mix of qualities to thrive in both the academic and personal elements of one of the most important professions there is.