The ACT’s most experienced teachers are not adequately being spread across the Territory, and the Education Directorate did not have an “informed understanding” about underperforming teachers due to inconsistent baseline data, the ACT Auditor-General found.
Auditor-General Michael Harris said the practice of principals excluding highly experienced teachers from annual transfer rounds so they are not transferred to schools they did not want to go to “limit[s] the ability of schools to access highly experienced teachers to improve teaching quality”.
The report also found that teacher performance could not be adequately assessed as “the performance management process for teaching staff is not implemented effectively”.
“The teacher performance development process is not effective in supporting teaching quality, and does not effectively support teaching appraisals to allow feedback on classroom teaching practices,” it said.
“While the Education Directorate has established a range of professional learning and other supports to improve teaching practices, the effectiveness of these programs is reduced by a lack of awareness amongst teachers and school leaders.
“Evaluation and monitoring mechanisms cannot demonstrate the impact of these programs across the ACT public school system.”
Shadow Education Minister Jeremy Hanson said the audit was “yet another damming report into the ACT Government’s school system”.
“The report confirms the concerns we have raised about school autonomy and inconsistency across schools as well as a failure to properly evaluate and review programs that have been implemented,” he said.
Mr Hanson used the audit’s findings to renew calls for a Gonski-style review of education in the ACT, despite his motion for such an inquiry not passing the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (23 June).
“This report validates the Canberra Liberals calls for a comprehensive review of our school system.”
Greens backbencher and the party’s education spokesperson, Johnathan Davis, called Mr Hanson’s rhetoric “conservative and offensive”, saying the motion “cast aside the significant community and school-led reviews that have recently been undertaken”.
Mr Davis amended the motion to commit the government to update the Legislative Assembly on the implementation of recommendations from previous inquiries.
Following the release of the audit, Education Minister Yvette Berry said while teachers in the ACT were generally of the highest quality, improvements could always be made and that the government has programs in place to make sure teachers are supported.
“The ACT Government has a proud history of supporting our teaching profession to make sure teachers have all the supports that they need to continue to hone their craft,” she said.
“We are always up for improvement, there is no government that should be saying you cannot improve anywhere, and we will undertake careful considerations of the Auditor-General’s recommendations.
“If there are more improvements that need to be made, we will consider those.”
The audit was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday (24 June). It made 14 recommendations, including prioritising developing an implementation plan for the second phase of the Future of Education strategy, improving its data and reporting framework and establishing universal professional learning for all school leaders and teachers.