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Laying the foundations for improved education

Preservice teachers spend time with Kaleen Primary School Year 6 students at the launch of the UC Affiliated Schools Program. Image courtesy of UC
Preservice teachers spend time with Kaleen Primary School Year 6 students at the launch of the UC Affiliated Schools Program. Image courtesy of UC

A partnership between the University of Canberra and ACT Education Directorate will see 25 ACT public schools participating in the UC Affiliated Schools Program from 2019.

An investment in the program over five years from the ACT Education Directorate will help inform teaching methodologies and pedagogies on a broader scale through supporting school-based coordinators, Masters scholarships and $4.5 million will be dedicated to school-based and large scale research.

Speaking at the launch of the program, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Ms Yvette Berry, said that the Affiliated Schools Program will enhance teacher education through school-based preservice teacher clinics and professional experience placements to ensure graduates are well equipped to enter the workforce.

“The Program also benefits our existing workforce by supporting collaboration with preservice teachers and university academics as well as sharing research via professional learning, resources and evidence-based programs,” she said.

The combination of program elements – research, teacher professional development, school-based teacher training and postgraduate scholarships – creates a unique university school partnership. The initiative has been led by Professor Geoff Riordan, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra and it builds on the impressive work undertaken for the past eight years at UC Kaleen High School, UC Lake Ginninderra College and a large number of schools in the ACT.

This collaborative approach is designed to shape and enhance teacher learning and development in the ACT, by building teacher capability and a skilled teacher workforce equipped to meet the needs and aspirations of ACT public school students and take them into the future.

“This cohesive approach to education means that the future generation of teachers will build on these foundations that will benefit all schools in the ACT,” said Professor Riordan.

“For a school or university to serve its students well, it cannot exist in isolation. Management, professional development, curriculum design and facilities are at their most effective when engaged with the community that benefits from them, as well as the educational stakeholders that have a vested interest in their improvement,” said Professor Riordan.

Students learn better in a collaborative learning environment. In an educational context that looks to opportunities for group work and peer mentoring; it’s natural and fitting for a school to apply the same principle to the teaching it provides.

“Team-teaching, collaborative planning and integrated curricula are increasingly popular features of the educational landscape, and these can only be encouraged and improved by expanding opportunities for collaboration and teamwork that look past any individual school or university, to how they might work more effectively together,” said Professor Riordan.

“This is the realisation of our vision for authentic, school-based teacher education, teacher professional development and research with well-resourced and carefully-selected schools.”

The Work Integrated Learning program, already part of UC’s Faculty of Education offering, has highlighted the value and importance of collaborative, hands-on experiential learning.

Chelsey Ashcroft, a UC student and preservice teacher shared her views of the program. “The program will benefit my studies, as well as my employment prospects once I graduate. Any school that I apply to teach at will have the peace of mind that I will be ready to teach a class with limited additional training and mentorship,” she said.

Professor Riordan is quick to highlight that the program was a faculty-wide collaborative approach that involved a broad team, including Centenary Professor Tom Lowrie, Chris Morrissey, Kerrie Heath, Kathy Mann, Duncan Driver, and Meredith Hunter.

“It has been informed by international best practice, our successful collaborations to date, and the ideas and contributions of many people in the University, UC Lake Ginninderra Secondary College, UC Kaleen High School and the Faculty of Education.”

“The affiliation offers a variety of fundamental resources and opportunities, and further provides an opportunity for UC and the affiliated schools to ‘shape’ the partnership into the future,” he concluded.

Source: UC

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