Equity and challenges of workplace-based Australian teacher education: Changing pedagogical and curriculum spaces.

Year: 2019

Author: Moss, Julianne, Walker-Gibbs, Bernadette, McCandless, Trevor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The definition of what constitutes a disadvantaged school in Australia can be remarkably broad. In some instances, this includes all schools that have an ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) that falls below 1000, that is, the bottom fifty percent of all Australian schools. International and Australian research indicates that concerns of equity, inequality and the preparedness to work in contexts where students are living in distress remain poorly understood by graduating teachers (Mayer et al., 2017; Florian, Young & Rouse, 2010; Moss & Harvie, 2015).

Preparing teachers for schools where inequality is an explanatory factor of uneven student learning outcomes is a well-reported and a significant part of the recent discourses of Australian education (Halsey, 2018; Longaretti and Toe, 2018; Scholes, et al., 2017; Weldon, McKenzie, Kleinhenz & Reid, 2012). These discourses reflect the global policy debates about inequality, disadvantage, equity and education. In Australia, over the past two decades, and elsewhere, government policy direction and university teacher education programs have created special initiatives to increase the number of pathways into initial teacher education. In policy terms, these workplace based alternate entry pathways seek to, on the one hand, unequivocally redress disadvantage and equity for students in these contexts, and the other, to provide preservice teachers with the skills and dispositions that will ensure they excel as ‘quality’ teachers in these schools.

The evidence is situated in a comprehensive literature review and qualitative data generated from both policy analysis and interviews with 10 Australian teacher educators recruited from the university and school sectors across three state/territory jurisdictions who participated in the university component of one alternate entry, workplace-based initial teacher education program in Australia from 2014-2018. The presentation outlines how alternate entry, workplace-based teacher education is shifting and reshaping the pedagogical and curriculum landscape of Australian teacher education. Theoretically, we draw on the resources of complexity theory (Cochran-Smith et al., 2016; Mayer et al., 2017) and Bacchi’s policy analysis (2009) to conclude that while many advantages can be found in workplace approaches, the task of enacting a transformative professional model of teacher preparation suited to the longstanding challenges of countering inequality and social disadvantage remains an urgent educational question. Specifically, learning to teach and teaching to learn in known sites of social disadvantage is rendered as unresolved