Bruce Burnett’s significant work in the field of initial teacher education (ITE) has provided high-quality teachers to Queensland students most in need in disadvantaged communities. His major contribution has been acknowledged with the inaugural Excellence in Teacher Education Award
Recently retired from the Australian Catholic University where he was a Professor within the Faculty of Education and Arts, Bruce’s industry-leading and internationally recognised research has been shaped since beginning at the Queensland University of Technology in 1996. He has been teaching in various roles since 1982, with his first role at East Brisbane Primary School. Bruce says he has a desire to make a difference and use education as a powerful conduit to help preservice teachers understand their own potential and make a difference to the lives of students from disadvantaged communities.
His research work has delivered real-world solutions for supplying high-quality graduate teachers to hard-to-staff Queensland schools. Bruce has achieved this through the groundbreaking National Exceptional Teaching for Disadvantaged Schools (NETDS) program, which he founded and co-designed. High performing preservice teachers are attracted into the program and exposed to challenging professional experience placements under a thorough mentoring plan. Strategic partnerships with hard-to-staff schools allow the graduate teachers to find employment after their studies.
Bruce is credited for collaborating with over 60 hard-to-staff schools, and successfully scaffolding beginning teachers’ exposure to the complex and challenging school settings. The positive impact of NETDS can be seen in the uptake of preservice teachers electing low socioeconomic status schools as their first choice of employment, with the last count at 80 per cent of program participants. The model has provided crucial knowledge to education authorities and influenced education policy, including being a case study in the second Gonski Review in 2018, and being highlighted in the 2015 Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group report.
As a member of several international research associations, a presenter at annual conferences, and a published author in high-impact research journals, Bruce’s research achievements have benefited the broader ITE community. He has also received multiple awards for his work on the NETDS program, including the 2016 Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award, the 2015 Australian Government OLT Australian Award for University Teaching, the 2013 Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Excellence in Teaching and School Leadership in Australia Award, and the 2012 QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award and QUT Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Leadership Performance Award.
In his nomination, colleagues wrote:
“ Professor Burnett has had a transformative impact on ITE with his collaborations with hard-to-staff schools, research achievements, leadership, and recognition through prestigious awards demonstrating significant contributions to the field. ”