The start of school for new teachers

It’s a new year and another 16,000 graduates join the ranks of Australian teachers. Whether by choice or by posting, most of these graduates will begin their teaching careers in a low SES school.

According to the statistics, the odds are stacked against them. New teacher attrition is alarmingly high and is mostly felt in low SES schools. With poor support in difficult circumstances, up to half of all new teachers leave the profession after five years. This constant turnover disproportionately affects kids in disadvantaged communities, hampering educational outcomes.

Some schools, however, are reversing this trend.

The SVA Growing Great Teachers project showcases 11 case studies of great practice in new teacher development. The case studies present initiatives that are attracting, retaining, and developing exceptional early career teachers in low SES schools.

The three critical features that this project identified as essential to new teacher development are:

1. Teacher Training: This includes early exposure through practicums and clinical practice training during initial teacher education. It also includes teacher-led professional development that continues regularly throughout the initial years and develops the effectiveness of new teachers.

2. Observation, Appraisal and Feedback: Development support such as Inductions, Mentoring, and Specialist Coaching improves the practice of new teachers.

3. Effective School Leadership: The quality of school leadership has a direct influence over the development of new teachers and the professional culture of the school.

These support and development structures are having positive impacts on teacher retention, teacher effectiveness, and most importantly: student outcomes.

So, as schools welcome a fresh cohort of new educators, investing in teacher development during these formative years is critical. High expectations alone will never be enough. Schools and systems must be willing to furnish teachers with the means by which to achieve these expectations. While new teacher investment may appear substantial in the short term, its payoff can have lasting effects for schools, teachers, and students. New teacher support and development is critical to lifting educational outcomes for kids in low SES schools.

Visit the SVA Growing Great Teachers page to view the case studies and share with your networks.