Teacher Education Partnerships for the Long Haul: A Study of the Catholic Teacher Education Consortium

Year: 2016

Author: Ryan, Josephine, Nailer, Sarah, Kostogriz, Alex

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In an era when government policy as expressed in its Teacher Education Ministerial Review identifies school-university partnerships as essential to high quality teacher education, a long lasting school-university partnership is of significance. The Catholic Teacher Education Consortium (CTEC), a partnership in its fourth year in 2016, is a partnership between Australian Catholic University, sector leadership Catholic Education Melbourne, and 16 schools in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne. Formed in order to increase the numbers of high quality teachers with a commitment to the Catholic ethos employed in Catholic secondary schools in the focus areas, the partnership sought to address challenges of high population growth and growing school enrollments. Within a four year undergraduate secondary teacher program, the project aimed to create maximum engagement of pre-service teachers with CTEC schools through a dedicated tutorial for them within course units, holding classes in CTEC schools where possible; completion of pre-service teacher Community and Professional Experience within CTEC schools and other opportunities to immerse themselves in schools with a view to becoming a teacher in the area. The research under discussion here analyses data from four years of the partnership. The analysis is underpinned by the view that teacher education research has been limited by a tendency to see school-university partnerships as a matter of bridging theory and practice with teachers and lecturers occupying divergent roles in the process. Instead this study sees teacher education as taking place in the boundary zone where teacher educators, teachers and pre-service teachers can jointly construct professional knowledge.Drawing on the work of another spatially designed study of teacher education (Rowan et al., 2015), the study examined findings about how the partnership operated in the conceived, perceived and lived spaces. A case study approach was taken with findings about CTEC analysed as a case study of a teacher education partnership. Data from project documents, surveys and interviews were used to create the case.Examination of CTEC in terms of its conceived, perceived and lived spaces illustrates that engagement in a university-school partnership involves participants in complex activities to establish arrangements which meet a vision created at a leadership level. Examination of perceptions of the program revealed that the Catholic ethos underlying the partnership was shared by many of the participants who lived the partnership in the schools, the teachers and pre-service teachers. But this unity in the vision was constantly interrupted by threats from both the realm of policy and from the everyday challenges of communication and resources.