New education course puts trainees in the classroom 


Trainee teachers will spend more time in the classroom under Charles Darwin University’s new education degree.

CDU’s Bachelor of Teaching and Learning will replace the Bachelor of Education degree from next year’s intake of first-year students. The newly badged degree will place greater emphasis on the practicalities of teaching as a profession, with trainee teachers getting into the classroom on a regular basis from the first weeks of their course.

The new degree will also enable students to fast-track completion of their four year degree program in three years.

CDU’s head of education, Professor David Lynch, said the new course was in response to the growing national demand for trainee teachers to spend more time learning on the job.

‘The biggest problem for teacher education has been the mismatch between theory and practice,’ he said. ‘This way students will spend at least one day a week in a designated teaching school, where they will gain immediate practical experience in the classroom under expert supervision from school and education faculty staff.’

Professor Lynch said the outcome would be better-trained teachers who were ‘work-place ready’ on graduation.

Under an arrangement with the NT Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Training, a cluster of schools in the Darwin and Palmerston areas have agreed to become teaching schools. A number of schools in Alice Springs will also join the program.

He said the amount of time spent in the classroom would gradually increase over the course, with students in the final year spending an extended period of time in a classroom in readiness for graduation.

Another innovation is that trainee teachers will be assigned an individual learning manager – a CDU staff member who will act as mentor and monitor for the student’s progress.

‘The student will have their own personal learning coach to offer them guidance and consultation,’ Professor Lynch said. ‘We know from experience that students would prefer to be treated as an individual and develop a personal relationship with their mentor.'

Professor Lynch said the role of the teacher had changed in the 21st century. ‘Student teachers need to be immersed in effective practical learnings and be judged as competent in such an environment. The new BTL course therefore has incorporated the idea of ‘Portal Tasks’ where the assessment of student teachers is focused to students demonstrating that they can actually teach in a classroom situation.

This is a departure from previous practices in teacher education across Australia where students would detail, normally through an essay or task on campus, how they might tackle a teaching scenario.

* Professor Lynch is available for media comment on 8946 6263.