School’s in for teaching graduates

Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies, Professor Donna Pendergast, says Griffith graduates are well-placed to take advantage of new opportunities in Education

Griffith University teaching graduates are poised to capitalise on impending changes within the education industry.

Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies, Professor Donna Pendergast, said innovative teaching programs and an enhanced focus on in-demand subjects would ensure graduates were job-ready and ideally placed to make the transition into their first schools.

“There are big things happening in education, particularly in relation to government reforms, and staffing and recruitment strategies are being newly defined,” Professor Pendergast said.

“For example, the move of Year 7 into secondary school from 2015 and the requirement, also by 2015, for early years children to have a trained teacher on-site for at least 15 hours a week, will necessitate changes to staffing requirements.

“The demand for qualified Early Childhood, Maths/Science and Special Education teachers is also increasing, so there is a real opportunity to encourage students along these teaching paths.”

Another reason for optimism among students is an expected surge in teaching retirements.

This follows anecdotal evidence that older teachers, who delayed retirement in order to rebuild superannuation savings eroded during the Global Financial Crisis, are now preparing to leave the industry.

“That response to the GFC, while perfectly understandable and reasonable, did complicate the absorption of new teachers into schools,” Professor Pendergast said.

“However, if what we are being told is true and there is a spate of retirements, it augurs well for our graduates.”

World rankings

Griffith Education was recently ranked in the top 100 in the world by the prestigious QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Further validation came at the recent Australian Teacher Education Association national conference in Brisbane, where Dr Leonie Rowan was named ATEA/Pearson National Teacher Educator of the Year and Dr Katherine Main received the Early Career Researcher Award.

Dr Rowan is based at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, where Education has more than 1200 full-time students and hosts several innovative programs. Professor Pendergast said this sent out a powerful message and offered opportunities for students to specialise.

“While the Bachelor of Education – Primary comprises the largest part of our Gold Coast commitment, we have also introduced the Bachelor of Education – Secondary, which is geared towards specialist Maths and Science,” she said.

“Meanwhile, at the Mount Gravatt campus our Graduate Level program in Design and Technology  fits neatly with the University’s Engineering and Architecture programs.

Aspirational philosophy

“At the heart of everything, however, is the aspirational philosophy of Connecting People, Shaping Futures. This is fundamental to Griffith’s teacher education agenda and includes our capacity to constantly identify need, respond to change and embrace new ideas.”

While schools and universities throughout Australia await the final outcome of the federally commissioned Gonski education reforms, Professor Pendergast said there were positives to be drawn from the Queensland Government’s five-year, $537 million Great Teachers=Great Results action plan for schools.

“Most encouraging is the way Great Teachers=Great Results firmly establishes the role, welfare and value of teachers as a priority,” she said.

“This is a cornerstone of Griffith’s teacher education commitment, supported by an emphasis on academic expertise, evidence-based lecturing, student empowerment and a commitment to life-long learning.

“That’s why our graduates are at the forefront when it is their turn to move into their own classrooms.”

Education will be one of the major components of Griffith University’s Open Day on August 11, with information sessions on Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary Education taking place at the Gold Coast and Nathan campuses.