A new take on VET teaching capability

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NCVER has just re-released a report aimed at “identifying approaches that could enhance teaching quality in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.”

It found that there was strong support for implementing systematic approaches to teacher preparation, mentor support and providing opportunities for continuing professional development.

This new study

This report, authored by NCVER’s Josie Misko with input from Hugh Guthrie and Melinda Waters, is entitled “Building capability and quality in VET teaching: opportunities and challenges.” It draws on the insights of a wide group of VET’s stakeholders. In addition to the report there is a support document: “Building capability and quality in VET teaching: frameworks, standards and insights.”

This report builds on an extensive body of research over many years on VET teacher education and professional development that was summarised by Emeritus Professor Roger Harris in a landmark report for the VET Knowledge Bank we highlighted in VDC News in June last year. In addition, the Commonwealth is currently consulting on a skills reform process, part of which is concerned with reforms focused on improving the quality of VET delivery and better supporting the development of VET’s workforce. You can access what is going on in this space here.

What did this NCVER report find?

First, Misko and her colleagues found that teaching quality in the sector is variable: some are great at teaching or have well-regarded industry expertise while others need improvement. And:

“There is strong support for using teacher capability frameworks and/or professional standards as diagnostic tools and guidelines for teacher self-evaluation and reflection, including for the planning of objectives for personal and professional development.”

But the diversity of the sector and the varying nature of teachers’ work may make it difficult to develop a single “nationally prescribed VET teacher capability framework”. So, the report has recommended a core and options approach, given that there are many things that can be commonly agreed, but others need a more local or contextual focus.

What needs to be done?

Those consulted believe that adequate resourcing of continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities is a must to ensure teachers maintain their industry currency, update their skills and learn new ones, and “keep up with modernised and technology-enhanced training approaches.”

Those consulted also felt there was a need for better approaches to help with induction and career progression, including using mentoring support from:

“knowledgeable, experienced and accomplished peers or higher-qualified colleagues to give both beginning and continuing teachers advice and feedback, or to engage with them in reflective practice.”

It’s also about attracting the ‘right people’ into VET teaching.

And then there’s the perpetually thorny issue of the Cert. IV

The Certificate IV and its quality have been thorny issues since it became the mandated qualification as a paper on how VET teacher education could be improved was published through the L H Martin Centre at the University of Melbourne showed.

Another issue the report highlights is “the sector’s lack of access to highly trained specialists to assist students with language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) difficulties.” It probably has not been enough to move an LLN competency into the core of the Cert IV because there are arguments about the need for LLN specialists to co-teach with subject-based VET teachers to address the needs of many VET students lacking these key foundation skills.

And finally, there is the attractiveness of VET teaching as a vocation. Some are born to VET teaching, some come to it out of strong desire to ‘give back’ to their industry or they just need a job. Whatever the motivation, one of our VDC News items last year suggested that VET teaching is not an easy gig despite the value that TAFE brings.

Finally, you can access a VET Voices podcast from NCVER involving VET luminaries including  Simon Walker from NCVER, Linda Simon and Martin Powell here at VDC. Another article in this issue looks at the value of peer support and mentoring in teacher PD.

A new take on VET teaching capability | VDC