Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents 16 TEACHER JUNE/JULY 2010
What ought to be the three guiding prin-
ciples if you want to achieve real improve-
ments in schools? Answer: 'the quality of an
education system cannot exceed the quality
of its teachers,' 'the only way to improve
outcomes is to improve instruction,' and
'achieving universally high outcomes is only
possible by putting in place mechanisms to
ensure that schools deliver high-quality
instruction to every child.'
So concluded Michael Barber and
Mona Mourshed in How the World's Best-
performing School Systems Come Out on
Top, their seminal 2007 McKinsey and
Company report on top-performing schools
around the world.
Barber and Mourshed's recognition of
the importance of teachers coincides with
two other important issues, both of which
have the potential to transform education.
The first of these is the increasing account-
ability requirements placed on schools and
individual teachers; and the second is the
impending teacher shortage and the com-
mensurate loss of accomplished educators
as a result of baby boomers retiring.
According to a 2008 paper by Thomas
Carroll and Elizabeth Foster from the
National Commission on Teaching and
America's Future (NCTAF), from 2008 to
2012 the school system in the United States
could lose up to a third of its most accom-
plished educators, while in less than a dec-
ade more than 1.7 million teachers could be
gone. Carroll and Foster also note the high
turnover of young teachers in America, and
estimate that one third will leave the profes-
sion within three years.
The situation is similar here in Australia,
according to Professor Barry Harper, Dean
of the Faculty of Education at the University
of Wollongong. We face a looming teacher
shortage as baby boomers reach retirement
age and more young people leave Australia
to teach overseas, or leave the profession
altogether, Harper says.
As Harper notes, 'Efforts to plug the gaps
being left by retirees are being thwarted
by. . .the attraction of teaching overseas . . .
(and) a desire by a significant number of
teaching graduates to only teach for a short
period before moving on to other careers.'
A Commonwealth govern ment pilot sur vey
of final-year students in faculties of educa-
tion in 2004, for example, revealed that 17
per cent of students intended 'to work as a
classroom teacher before moving into a dif-
ferent career,' while a Ministerial Council
on Education, Employment, Training and
Youth Affairs study in 2002, identified 32
WE KNOW THAT QUALITY SCHOOLING DEPENDS ON QUALITY TEACHERS AND WE
KNOW WE FACE A TEACHER SHORTAGE: TIME, SAYS ROBYN COLLINS, TO THINK
ABOUT SOME NEW APPROACHES TO STAFFING.
Innovations in staffing
It's a team thing
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