Federal bureaucrats have been tasked with developing best-practice professional resources for teachers as part of a funding package announced by the government to ‘achieve focused, positive and supportive classroom environments’.
The resources will include podcasts featuring pedagogy experts, online and face-to-face training, case studies and FAQs. Targeted training for schools and other written materials will also be designed.
Given the challenges and opportunities of the return to the physical school environment following pandemic restrictions, the resources will focus on classroom management, student engagement, safe and supportive classrooms.
Stuart Robert, the acting minister for education and youth, announced $3.5 million for the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) to develop the tools for teachers and parents.
In a statement on Wednesday, Robert said the best-practice resources would lead to classrooms that were ‘more conducive to learning’. The agency would start to release training materials on its website later in 2022, he added.
“Recent research indicates classrooms are becoming increasingly disrupted,” Robert said.
“That’s why the [government is] supporting the development of a pipeline of practical resources by education experts in this area’
Robert said teachers across Australia had told the government that improving the classroom environment was a ‘big concern’.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to realise their potential at school. Having safe, engaged and supportive classrooms are critical to achieving that,” he said.
“Improving the environment in which students are taught is one of three key pillars the government has identified that need attention to lift student outcomes, along with what and how students are taught.”
Robert recently defended tone-deaf remarks he made at a forum for private school educators, where he blamed public school teachers for dragging down academic results. The acting education minister said his comments were supposed to be ‘provocative’.
“My comments were designed to be provocative to start a conversation about where we need to go,” Robert said during a radio interview with 6PR on Monday.
“School funding has doubled, but our results have gone backwards. And we have to face that brutal reality: Why?”
The Australasian Education Union described the minister’s views as ‘deplorable’, with president Correna Haythorpe saying Robert slandered the backbone of Australia’s public education system. She noted the remarks illustrated the federal government’s ‘outrageous preference for the private school system’, which, she said, came at a cost to public school teachers and students.
“Referring to public school teachers as the ‘bottom 10% dragging the chain’, Stuart Robert has slandered the public school workforce,” Haythorpe said.
“Public school teachers have always been an easy target for politicians like Minister Robert, who think that a cheap and easy headline which attacks teachers for declining educational outcomes will let his government off the hook for their failure to prioritise public education,” she said.