The ongoing learning of teachers is essential. We know that teacher quality is the biggest in-school determinant of student achievement but we also know that great teaching doesn’t just happen! It takes effort, trial and error, and critically; it takes high quality professional learning. Evidence tells us that professional learning for teachers makes the biggest difference when it is sustained, job-embedded and collegiate. When these conditions are met, educators have the greatest opportunities to maximise their students’ achievement. 

While AITSL is committed to supporting all teachers to undertake high quality professional learning, we know that there are cohorts within the profession who find access to this particularly difficult. Rural/remote, early-childhood and casual/relief teachers all face challenges when it comes to their ongoing learning, and I have seen examples of this first-hand. 

While the roles and contexts of these educators are different, they have one significant challenge in common… professional isolation. Teachers in rural and remote schools are often the only teacher of a particular specialisation, or age group, within (or even great distances beyond) their schools. Early-childhood teachers can be the only trained teacher in their workplace and need to juggle their roles with the support of other staff; and casual/relief teachers can feel excluded from school-based professional learning due to their often transient employment. 

Last Wednesday AITSL hosted a forum in which we committed to working with the profession and stakeholders to find solutions to ensure that these three cohorts of teachers can access and undertake high quality professional learning. Over 100 participants were involved, including representatives of the education systems and sectors, teacher regulatory authorities, professional and principal associations and importantly, teachers and leaders who themselves have extensive experience working in rural/remote, early-childhood and casual/relief teaching roles. 

The day was not about admiring the problem, we know there is a problem. The day was about generating solutions that will work - so that access to high quality professional learning is the norm, and not the exception, for the entire profession. Soon we will reach out to you to seek your ideas, we will collate recommendations and present these to all Education Ministers in the new year. I encourage you to contribute as there is a huge number of teachers, and even more students, depending on us to make a difference.

There isn’t long left until the end-of-year break, and I’m sure you are all looking forward to the time to reflect and relax. You deserve it!

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