Media release: Invest in what works: Teacher quality is key

Education funding must focus on the greatest needs and invest in teachers and evidence based interventions that work, said the University of Melbourne’s Dean of Education, Professor Field Rickards.

Ahead of a Melbourne Graduate School of Education expert panel forum entitled ‘Public spending in education: investment or waste’ Professor Rickards said that educational progress will only occur in Australia when it is driven by teachers.

“Teachers have a crucial role in improving student outcomes, but they need to be supported so they can contribute fully as highly developed experts in a widely respected profession,” he said.

“Some teachers are more effective than others. We need to recognise excellent teachers and increase the effectiveness of all teachers.”

Professor Rickards called on Australian governments to work together with school leaders and teacher education providers to:

  • Enable teachers to work in collaborative teams
  • Develop school networks to share success and support continuous improvement
  • Recognise excellent teachers through new professional structures and pay levels
  • Provide more professional development for teachers to interpret assessment data, and accurately identify and address individual student learning needs.

The landmark ABC documentary Revolution School confirms the strong research message that what matters most in student learning is the effectiveness of the teacher.

In Revolution School Kambrya College transformed itself – but not through the usual popular answers of more discipline, more uniform, more curriculum, and smaller class-sizes.

Rather, they decided to work together in collaborative teams, and with University of Melbourne experts and other schools to look at the evidence of what was having an impact, said Laureate Professor John Hattie who is featured in the series.

“Tomorrow’s final episode shows how Kambrya’s dramatic turnaround was achieved by taking a clinical approach to teaching and evaluating the impact of their lessons,” Professor Hattie said.

“The greatest influence on student learning is having highly expert, inspired and passionate teachers and school leaders working together to maximise the effect of their teaching on all students.”