Changing modes of governance in Australian teacher education policy

Year: 2016

Author: Savage, Glenn, Lingard, Bob

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher education is one of the most heavily reviewed and contested domains of Australian public policy, with a remarkable number of state and federal reviews conducted over the past four decades. The past decade in particular has seen unprecedented changes take place in teacher education policy. Central to this changing landscape has been the development of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, which were developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) in 2010. The Standards are intended to enhance and assess teacher quality by outlining what teachers ‘should know and be able to do’ across four career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead. The Graduate level teaching standards have significant implications for teacher education as all education providers across the nation must now demonstrate alignment with this level. In this paper, we provide an analysis of recent developments in Australian teacher education policy, with a particular focus on national policy shifts since the late 1990s. In doing so, we investigate changing modes of governance in teacher education and how these have enabled the progressive nationalisation and standardisation of policies in this area. Our main argument is that three dominant trends can be observed in Australian teacher education policy since the 1990s. First is a progressive shift towards the ‘re-scaling’ of schooling policies to the national level, which has been driven strongly by global economic agendas. Second, is a significant increase in federal government involvement in schooling policies through the development and control of AITSL and various ‘strings attached’ funding grants to Australian states and territories. Third is a new logic of standards-based governance at the national level, which is strongly supported by convergences in international research and narrowing body of evidence about what constitutes teacher quality and effectiveness. The core argument of our paper is that changing modes of governance in teacher education policy are driving the unprecedented re-shaping of the teaching profession in Australia. Progressive shifts towards nationalisation and standardisation are not only leading to increasing commonalities in policy approaches across the nation, but are also fundamentally re-shaping the conditions of possibility for what it means to be an educator by tightening state control over what counts as the most desirable ‘common attributes’ of an effective teacher.