There is no better time to be a teacher! And there is no better time to celebrate the history of a key institution in the teaching profession landscape in Queensland. In 2021, this focus is on the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT), as it celebrates 50 years of a teacher registration authority in Queensland. As a key stakeholder, the Queensland Council of Deans of Education (QCDE) acknowledges the importance of the regulatory authority to ensure consistency and high-quality teacher education programs, uphold the excellence of the profession through the registration of all teachers and provide confidence to both the profession itself and to the wider public.
Teacher education in Queensland has a long history, peppered with the establishment and evolution of institutions including the Brisbane Kindergarten Training College, established in 1911, the Queensland Teachers Training College (1914), Kelvin Grove Teachers College (1961), and Mt Gravatt Teachers College (1969). These twentieth century institutions no longer exist, with the function of teacher education taking place in universities around the state, many built on these early foundations. In 2021, eight Queensland, one interstate and one national university collectively form the coalition of Deans representing education faculties/schools in universities that comprise the QCDE and these are the institutions where initial teacher education takes place.
The accreditation of teacher education programs against standards has been a key function of the Queensland Board of Teacher Education since its establishment in 1971. The 1964 Martin Report that provided the key recommendation of the Committee of Tertiary Education in Australia to the Australian Universities Commission to establish a Board in each state in Australia, clearly stipulated a key function was to approve the content of courses and standards in professional teacher education programs. This function continues today with the Queensland College of Teachers responsible for ensuring the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) program accreditation and graduate teacher standards are met, alongside Queensland specific requirements. To achieve this, members of the QCDE work with the QCT to ensure teacher education programs retain their high standards while enabling innovation to meet the needs of a new century of educators.
The QCDE work with QCT to be innovators in the teacher education agendas of the nation. In recent times, this has included the development and approval of the NARTE - a tool designed to enable the non-academic requirement for teacher education to be determined at entry; and co-creation through a series of annual Summit events that bring together thought leaders to intentionally create futures in a range of key elements in initial teacher education, including numeracy, physical activity, ICT and creativity.
It is pertinent to consider the unique timing of the fifty-year celebration of QCT. 2020 was a year that changed every person, and every profession. It made us - personally and professionally - reassess what is important to us. The response to the global pandemic necessitated that rituals and ways of operating be adjusted and, in some cases, abandoned. Around the world, more than 1.6 billion students representing 91% of students globally, were - and in some instances continue to be - impacted by temporary school closures, some for more than an entire school year. During this time, a range of emergency education responses have been implemented, including for example, the learning@home initiative in Queensland, where schools remained open to vulnerable students and learning remotely from home was supported by the provision of learning materials for prep through to Year 10 during the relatively short closures. For universities, this meant working collaboratively with key stakeholders and with the approval of the QCT to creatively ensure the quality of teaching programs was not compromised, that the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers were achieved by every graduating student, and that progression through programs could continue through innovative professional experience and teaching performance assessment requirements, including through engagement with the learning@home initiative to develop learning materials through a Work Integrated Learning model. QCT has been much more than a regulatory body ensuring compliance during this time, importantly providing visionary leadership through conversation and co-creation that has, alongside QCDE and key stakeholders, shaped the emerging graduates from universities at this time of unprecedented change. This is a sign of the professional maturity of QCT and evidence of adaptive thinking in action.
And in 2021, we remain in a condition of liminality - a state of transition from one way of being to another - with the reconstituting of new rituals yet to be fully realised. This has been reflected in a resurgence of interest in the teaching profession, with the numbers of commencing students in 2021 across the state swelling by more than a third compared to the previous year. At a time when the need for security, confidence, quality, optimism and hope is more important than ever before, the teaching profession has enjoyed a status lift that was not foreseeable just a year ago, when increasingly desperate discussions regarding teacher shortages focussed on bold strategies for attraction and retention. It is ironic that out of such disruption comes a revaluing of what is most important to individuals, and to communities, with this renewed focus on teaching as a desirable profession.
As the QCT and the QCDE look to the future, the value of relational trust and mutual respect between the organisations will continue to serve the profession, ensuring the original purpose - to safeguard consistency and high-quality teacher education programs and to uphold the excellence of the profession through the registration of all teachers - remains at the centre of their efforts. The golden celebrations this year truly are akin to the mineral symbolic of these 50 years - precious and highly valued, with an unmistakably renewed lustre.