Entrance requirements into Initial Teacher Education and future teacher diversity: Are policy shifts conceptually narrowing who can become a teacher?

Year: 2019

Author: Freeborn, Amanda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Entrance into initial teacher education (ITE) has been an area of ongoing debate. In a bid to improve the academic calibre of ITE students, in 2016 the NSW government introduced minimum academic entrance standards. All undergraduate ITE students are required to achieve a mark over 80 in three HSC subjects or demonstrate an equivalent academic standard. At a similar time AITSL mandated that all universities also offer students a non-academic entrance pathway. These policy changes represent a significant shift in the way in which students are now admitted into ITE, yet their implications have not yet been fully explored.

This paper uses Ball’s notion of policy effects (1993)and policy enactment theory (Maguire, Ball, & Braun, 2011)to better understand the impact that these policy changes have had upon university staff and potential ITE students. It reports on one aspect of a qualitative multiple case study inquiry, highlighting the fact that in restricting entrance into ITE there is potential for a conceptual narrowing of ITE students and eventual loss of diversity in the teaching population.

A key finding from the study, which used semi-structured interviews with academic and student recruitment staff from three NSW universities and a survey of NSW high school careers advisors, indicates that by achieving the policy aim of making entrance into ITE more challenging, only a certain ‘type’ of student is positioned to be a suitable ITE candidate.

This paper argues against a conceptual narrowing of ITE candidates and highlights the value of having students from diverse backgrounds both enter ITE and eventually the teaching profession, given the benefits that a diverse teaching workforce has upon school students, particularly those who may come from a minority or disadvantaged background.