Education and Training Reform Amendment (Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership) Bill 2021: Second Reading

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (11:34): I am delighted to rise and speak on this very, very significant and important bill for our state—that being the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership) Bill 2021. It will enhance teaching and learning outcomes across Victoria, and I do welcome the bipartisan support of this bill.

Like the Parliamentary Secretary for Schools, the member for Mordialloc, I support this bill because it is about investing in Victorian teachers’ professional development and leadership skills. It will also deliver better outcomes for students. The evidence is clear: it is necessary to invest in the knowledge and capabilities of teachers to improve student outcomes, so we are raising the bar on teacher quality.

As the state government we have a responsibility for continuous improvement in our education system, and supporting the professional development of our teachers is at the core of this improvement. By introducing this bill we are delivering an Australian first: an academy to develop our best teachers and leaders in education.

I thank the Minister for Education for his commitment to the Education State. Not only are we building new schools and making record investment in school upgrades and maintenance but we are investing in our hardworking teachers, our dedicated teachers who the Minister for Education and I both know are the heart of every school.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Acting Premier and Minister for Education for the excellent work he has done through the toughest of circumstances. On behalf of my community I pass on our gratitude for the great job you have done and also say well done to your amazing ministerial office and the advisers in that office, who have not missed a beat despite your additional responsibilities over the last 3½ months. It is through the leadership of the Minister for Education that we are investing $148.2 million to establish the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, a new statutory authority—a multisite academy, including a Ballarat campus as well as campuses across regional Victoria in Bairnsdale, in Bendigo, in Geelong, in Mildura, in Moe and in Shepparton.

By creating an academy we will develop high-quality teachers and foster a pipeline of emerging leaders in education. This is a game changer for our schools across the whole state and for my electorate of Wendouree, home to many excellent schools. The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership will be available for teachers not only at our more than 1500 government schools but at our 500 Catholic schools and more than 220 independent schools.

This is a great announcement for our 130 000 registered teachers in Victoria because this bill will deliver one of the most significant education reforms of the Andrews Labor government and address a vital element that is currently missing from our Victorian education system.

Importantly, the education department has undertaken consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Independent Schools Victoria, professional associations and, most importantly to me, the unions who represent our hardworking and dedicated teachers.

Once again I would like to acknowledge that I am a very proud member of the Independent Education Union Victoria Tasmania branch and also I am a very huge supporter of the Australian Education Union Victorian Branch. I am very pleased that the unions and associations have indicated support for broad elements of this bill, and just last week I was at Ballarat Trades Hall where the AEU were holding their regional delegates meeting for term 2. I had the opportunity to speak to them about this bill and about what it meant for Ballarat, and I have promised to keep the delegates from across schools in my region up to date with this bill and the rollout of the academy.

I would also like to just take a moment to wish all the teachers across Ballarat an enjoyable break after a disrupted term 2. Term 2 is traditionally the toughest term, and our teachers work such long hours. It is often not recognised, but I am sure a lot of MPs in this chamber, like me, when you are driving around the electorate, will drive past your local schools. It could be late at night or it could be on a weekend, and teachers’ cars are in the car park, there are lights on in the school building and the teachers are working hard preparing for the next day. Our teachers deserve their school holidays, and I wish all my teachers across Wendouree a really, really great break. I hope it is really relaxing and that you come back for a really exciting and dynamic term 3.

As professionals, teachers need to update their skills and knowledge continuously not only in response to a changing world but in response to new research and emerging knowledge about learning and teaching. I am very pleased that the new authority will deliver an Australian-first program of advanced professional learning for high-performing teachers from all schools.

This announcement really does reflect our high regard and the respect we have for Victorian teachers, their students and our broader school communities. We value education and strongly believe that every Victorian child deserves a quality education. By establishing the seven academies across Victoria for teachers at government, Catholic and independent schools we are demonstrating our commitment to improving learning outcomes for all students regardless of their socio-economic background or geographic location.

Schools are important institutions in our society and principals and teachers are important role models, not only within their schools but within the school communities, and I see that the member for Geelong is also in the house at the moment as well as the member for South-West Coast. Particularly in regional areas, the leadership of school principals and teachers is so important. So we need our principals and teachers to be at the top of their professional game, and we know the private sector recognises the importance of CEOs and executives undertaking ongoing professional development, as do our doctors, our lawyers and our engineers. Investing in improving professional practice and leadership skills is important across all sectors, so it is essential that we as a government provide learning opportunities for our educators.

This bill will lay the foundations for a coherent, whole-of-system approach to professional learning for the entire Victorian profession—that is, from all school sectors at every stage of their career. And significantly, the quality of school leadership is second only to quality teaching as the biggest in-school influence on student achievement. So we have a teacher in a classroom that is a key determinant of outcomes for that cohort, but only second to that quality teaching happening in the classroom is school leadership.

It is very important that we get this right. Not only do we need our teachers being great and having a deep and thorough understanding of the curriculum inside an individual classroom, we need school leadership because that is what is shaping student outcomes at a school level.

I want our principals, our school leadership teams, our year-level coordinators, our curriculum heads and our student wellbeing leaders to have access to the professional development that will enhance their personal leadership and the leadership of the school community. For Victorian students to receive a quality education we need to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning occurring in our classrooms, our science labs, our gyms, our art studios and our performing arts centres is first grade. Wherever learning takes place in our schools, the curriculum and teaching needs to be purposeful, structured and effective, and it needs to be based on pedagogical principles and evidence-based research.

Through the establishment of the Academy of Teaching and Leadership we are prioritising excellence and equity for every Victorian child and young person, and I am pleased that hundreds of teachers in my electorate of Wendouree will benefit from a brand new multisite based right in Ballarat. By bringing a regional hub to Ballarat, we can train and develop the very best teachers locally.

From my professional experience of teaching for more than a decade, I know, and the research shows, that the quality of teachers is the key determinant of variation in student achievement. Quality teaching needs to be at the very centre of learning. In order to improve teacher effectiveness in the classroom, teachers need to undertake high quality professional learning, and to be effective educators, teachers need to learn and adopt the strategies that will improve learning outcomes.

When I did my dip. ed. at Melbourne University back in 2006, I thought it was pretty snazzy to have Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations and maybe to show a DVD. That was about as high-tech as my classrooms got. Next came electronic whiteboards, but now we see students undertaking robotics and impressive multimedia and using platforms and apps that I cannot even comprehend. Teaching is dynamic and changing, and we need to keep up with the education of our students.


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