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Schools join to train teachers

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Five Sydney schools have got proactive about sourcing their future employees, joining together to pilot a training program which will ensure the supply of high-quality teachers.

There’s a big difference here: the trainee teachers will be working in the schools with students for their entire tertiary education and trainee teachers will enter into a four-year undergraduate or two-year postgraduate degree program

The Teaching Schools Alliance Sydney has been established by Blue Mountains Grammar School, St Andrew’s Cathedral School, The Scots College, Inaburra School and William Clarke College. The Alliance will partner with Australia’s largest Protestant-affiliated tertiary provider, Alphacrucis College, to deliver the degree program.

The Alliance hopes to address wider social concerns about student teacher quality, high attrition rates in the profession and classroom readiness of graduates. The pilot program will lead the way in directly addressing these issues and becoming a model that can be replicated across Australia, particularly in regional areas.

The initiative reconnects schools with the training of the next generation of teachers and utilises the tertiary partnership to form a ‘Teaching School Hub’. The model is already operating successfully in the Hunter Valley NSW with a cluster of schools from St Philip’s Christian College group of schools.

Each Hub will assess applicants on the basis of proven volunteerism, ethos alignment, EQ, IQ and appropriate academic standards before commencing training. 

Alphacrucis liaison for the Alliance, Dr David Hastie, said that the ‘Hub model’ of teacher training provides significant benefits to the schools as well as the trainee teachers. “The clinical training approach embedded in the model has proven to be effective across the globe, but this Hub model adapts it for our unique Australia education context. The model provides professional and contextual preparation with a wealth of experience in curriculum development, assessment, small group teaching, parent interaction, problem-solving and conflict resolution.

“The trainees are also well supported, their tuition fees are subsidised, they are paid part-time as a teaching assistant and they graduate with significant work experience.”

A typical Alliance trainee will spend 1–2 days per week paid to work in the classroom with a Mentor Teacher, which means that by the completion of their degree the trainee will already have hundreds of days of school-based experience.

The academic program includes a mixture of local face-to-face intensives, mentor training, and online coursework. A significant point of difference from existing models is that the training follows the rhythms of the school calendar rather than the traditional university calendar. This means that trainee teachers are receiving 40 weeks of training each year rather than the common university calendar of two 13-week semesters.

The degrees awarded are the same degrees awarded at traditional universities with the same standards, rigour and accountability to the governing bodies that set and monitor academic standards in Australia. In addition, the pilot is to be evaluated by an independent research team.

Full and partial scholarships are available to prospective trainees.

Schools involved
Blue Mountains Grammar School is a co-educational Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 Christian school in the Anglican tradition. The school has two campuses located at Wentworth Falls and Valley Heights.

St Andrew’s Cathedral School is a co-educational Kindergarten to Year 12 Anglican school located in Sydney’s CBD.

The Scots College is a Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 non-selective Presbyterian boys' school for day and boarding students. The College has campuses in Bellevue Hill, Rose Bay, Dolls Point and Kangaroo Valley.

Inaburra School is a co-educational Kindergarten to Year 12 Baptist school located in Sydney’s South.

William Clarke College is a Pre-school to Year 12 co-educational Anglican College located in Kellyville in Sydney’s north west.

Alphacrucis College is Australia’s largest Protestant-affiliated tertiary provider, and is aligned to the Pentecostal denomination. Founded in 1948, the College’s main campus is located in Parramatta with additional campuses in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

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