The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 527–549

Who says we are not attracting the best and brightest? Teacher selection and the aspirations of Australian school students

  • Jennifer Gore
  • Rosie Joy Barron
  • Kathryn Holmes
  • Maxwell Smith
Article

Abstract

Internationally, the quality of teachers is a growing focus of educational reform, with new policies attempting to ensure that only the ‘best and brightest’ are selected for the teaching profession. This article tests the assumption underpinning these developments that prospective teachers lack the desired academic and personal qualities. Drawing on data on the career aspirations of 6492 Australian school students in Years 3–12, we investigated who, among these students, expressed interest in teaching and their reasons for doing so. Using logistic regression, we found that interest in teaching was widespread and prior academic achievement was not a significant predictor. Thematic analysis of reasons expressed for interest in teaching indicated that working with children and/or in specific subject areas, altruism, and perceptions of personal suitability for the job dominated student responses. These data provide a counter-narrative to the primacy, in policies for teacher recruitment and selection, of needing to attract ‘better’ students. We argue that policies for improving teacher quality should also capitalise on the widespread interest in teaching among school students. Without such a discursive broadening, we caution that current attempts to attract the ‘best and brightest’ risk undermining the very goals espoused.

Keywords

Aspirations Motivations Teacher selection 

References

  1. Acker, S. (1983). Women and teaching: A semi-detached sociology of a semi-profession. In S. Walker & L. Barton (Eds.), Gender, class and education (pp. 99–162). Sussex: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  2. Allard, A., Mayer, D., & Moss, J. (2014). Authentically assessing graduate teaching: Outside and beyond neo-liberal constructs. Australian Educational Researcher, 41(4), 425–443. doi:10.1007/s13384-013-0140-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Auguste, B., Kihn, P., & Miller, M. (2010). Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teaching. New York, NY: McKinsey.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Government Department of Education and Training. (2015). Teacher quality. https://www.studentsfirst.gov.au/teacher-quality. Accessed 30 April 2016.
  5. Australian Government Department of Education and Training. (2016). uCube. http://www.highereducationstatistics.education.gov.au. Accessed 30 April 2016.
  6. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2011). Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards and procedures. Melbourne: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs.Google Scholar
  7. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2012). Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Guide to the accreditation process. Melbourne: Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs.Google Scholar
  8. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2015). Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards and procedures. Melbourne: AITSL.Google Scholar
  9. Bacchi, C. (2012). Why study problematizations? Making politics visible. Open Journal of Political Science, 2(1), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bagshaw, E. (2016, January 22). Teaching students to face personality assessments. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teaching-students-to-face-personality-assessments-20160118-gm8qse.html. Accessed 30 Jan 2016.
  11. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top. http://www.mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Education/Worlds_School_Systems_Final.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  12. Bireda, S., & Chait, R. (2011). Increasing teacher diversity: Strategies to improve the teacher workforce. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.Google Scholar
  13. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. E. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York, NY: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  14. Bowles, T., Hattie, J., Dinham, S., Scull, J., & Clinton, J. (2014). Proposing a comprehensive model for identifying teaching candidates. The Australian Educational Researcher, 41(4), 365–380. doi:10.1007/s13384-014-0146-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of Australian higher education: Final report. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  16. Bullough, R. V., & Hall-Kenyon, K. M. (2011). The call to teach and teacher hopefulness. Teacher Development, 15(2), 127–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burke, P. J., & McManus, J. (2009). Art for a few: Exclusion and misrecognition in art and design higher education admissions. London: National Arts Learning Network.Google Scholar
  18. Byrne, E. (2013, July 24). Entry standards for teachers are too low. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/entry-standards-for-teachers-are-too-low-20130723-2qhf5.html. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  19. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2014). Workforce profile of the NSW teaching profession 2014. http://www.cese.nsw.gov.au/images/stories/PDF/Workforce_Profile_NSW_Teaching_Profession_2014.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  20. Commonwealth Department of Education. (2014). 2013 National early childhood education and care workforce census (Report). Melbourne: The Social Research Centre. https://www.docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/nwc_national_report_final_0.pdf.
  21. Cross, M., & Ndofirepi, E. (2015). On becoming and remaining a teacher: Rethinking strategies for developing teacher professional identity in South Africa. Research Papers in Education, 30(1), 95–113. doi:10.1080/02671522.2013.851729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Devlin, M. (2016). ATAR is a university marketing tool: 4 reasons to stop obsessing about it. EduResearch Matters. http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=1511. Accessed 20 April 2016.
  23. Dinham, S. (2008). How to get your school moving and improving: An evidence-based approach. Camberwell: ACER Press.Google Scholar
  24. Dinham, S. (2013). The quality teaching movement in Australia encounters difficult terrain: A personal perspective. Australian Journal of Education, 57(2), 91–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dinham, S., Ingvarson, L., & Kleinhenz, E. (2008). Teaching talent: The best teachers for Australia’s classrooms. Melbourne: The Business Council of Australia.Google Scholar
  26. Epstein, D., & Miller, R. T. (2011). Slow off the mark: Elementary school teachers and the crisis in science, technology, engineering, and math education. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.Google Scholar
  27. Ferrari, J. (2015, February 20). Smart choice: Top kids make the best teachers. The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/smart-choice-top-kids-make-the-best-teachers/story-fn59nlz9-1227226255449. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  28. Flores, M. A., & Niklasson, L. (2014). Why do student teachers enrol for a teaching degree? A study of teacher recruitment in Portugal and Sweden. Journal of Education for Teaching, 40(4), 328–343. doi:10.1080/02607476.2014.929883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Furlong, A., & Biggart, A. (1999). Framing ‘choices’: A longitudinal study of occupational aspirations among 13- to 16-year-olds. Journal of Education and Work, 12(1), 21–35. doi:10.1080/1363908990120102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goldstein, H. (2011a). Multilevel statistical models. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Goldstein, R. A. (2011b). Imaging the frame: Media representations of teachers, their unions, NCLB, and education reform. Educational Policy, 25(4), 543–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gore, J., Holmes, K., Smith, M., Southgate, E., & Albright, J. (2015). Socioeconomic status and the career aspirations of Australian school students: Testing enduring assumptions. Australian Educational Researcher, 42(2), 155–177. doi:10.1007/s13384-015-0172-5.
  33. Gore, J., Holmes, K., Smith, M., Fray, L., McElduff, P., Weaver, N., & Wallington, C. (2016). Unpacking the career aspirations of Australian school students: Towards an evidence base for university equity initiatives in schools (submitted).Google Scholar
  34. Gottfredson, L. S. (1996). Gottfredson’s theory of circumscription and compromise. In D. Brown & L. Brooks (Eds.), Career choice and development: Applying contemporary approaches to practice (3rd ed., pp. 179–232). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  35. Graham, L. (2015). Lay off blaming new teachers for ‘falling’ standards. EduResearch Matters. http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=964. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  36. Hobson, A. J., Ashby, P., McIntyre, J., & Malderez, A. (2010). International approaches to teacher selection and recruitment (OECD Education Working Paper No. 47). doi:10.1787/5kmbphhh6qmx-en.
  37. Ingvarson, L., Reid, K., Buckley, S., Kleinhenz, E., & Masters, G. N. (2014). Best practice teacher education programs and Australia’s own programs. Canberra: Department of Education.Google Scholar
  38. James, R., Bexley, E., Anderson, A., Devlin, M., Garnett, R., Marginson, S., & Maxwell, L. (2008). Participation and equity: A review of the participation in higher education of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and indigenous people (Report). Melbourne: Centre for the Study of Higher Education. https://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/ArticleDocuments/210/Participation%20and%20equity.pdf.aspx. Accessed 7 Oct 2016.
  39. Lai, K. C., Chan, K. W., Ko, K. W., & So, K. S. (2005). Teaching as a career: A perspective from Hong Kong senior secondary students. Journal of Education for Teaching, 31(3), 153–168. doi:10.1080/02607470500168974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lankford, H., Loeb, S., McEachin, A., Miller, L. C., & Wyckoff, J. (2014). Who enters teaching? Encouraging evidence that the status of teaching is improving. Educational Researcher, 43(9), 444–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Levine, P. B., & Zimmerman, D. J. (1995). A comparison of the sex-type of occupational aspirations and subsequent achievement. Work and Occupations, 22(3), 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Louden, W. (2008). 101 damnations: The persistence of criticism and the absence of evidence about teacher education in Australia. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 14(4), 357–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lovett, S. (2007). ‘Teachers of promise’: Is teaching their first career choice? New Zealand Annual Review of Education, 16, 29–53. http://www.nzcer.org.nz/research/publications/teachers-promise-teaching-their-first-career-choice-0. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  44. Manuel, J., & Hughes, J. (2006). ‘It has always been my dream’: Exploring pre-service teachers’ motivations for choosing to teach. Teacher Development, 10(1), 5–24. doi:10.1080/13664530600587311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McDougall, B. (2014, December 18). Principals demand radical overhaul of student teacher selection to improve academic outcomes. The Daily Telegraph. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/principals-demand-radical-overhaul-of-student-teacher-selection-to-improve-academic-outcomes/story-fni0cx12-1227160381062. Accessed 13 Oct 2016.
  46. McNeilage, A. (2014, January 21). Adrian Piccoli says teacher selection criteria should be more strict. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/adrian-piccoli-says-teacher-selection-criteria-should-be-more-strict-20140120-314vn.html. Accessed 22 Jan 2014.
  47. More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative. (MATSITI). (2015). About MATSITI. http://www.matsiti.edu.au/about/. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  48. Moulton, V., Flouri, E., Joshi, H., & Sullivan, A. (2015). Fantasy, unrealistic and uncertain aspirations and children’s emotional and behavioural adjustment in primary school. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 6(1), 107–119. doi:10.14301/llcs.v6i1.277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards. (NSW BOSTES). (2015a). Raising university entry standards for future teachers. http://www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/future-returning-teachers/become-a-teacher/raising-university-entry-standards/. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  50. NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards. (NSW BOSTES). (2015b). Understanding HSC results. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/hsc-results/understanding.html. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  51. Poloma, A. W. (2014). Why teaching faculty diversity (still) matters. Peabody Journal of Education, 89(3), 336–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pyne, C. (2014, February 18). A quality education begins with the best teachers, says Christopher Pyne. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/a-quality-education-begins-with-the-best-teachers-says-christopher-pyne-20140218-32z61.html. Accessed 18 Feb 2014.
  53. Queensland College of Teachers. (2015). Teacher profile: 2013 Queensland graduate teachers. https://www.qct.edu.au/PDF/Research/Teacher%20Profile%202013%20QLD%20Grad.PDF. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  54. Richardson, P. W., & Watt, H. M. G. (2006). Who chooses teaching and why? Profiling characteristics and motivations across three Australian universities. Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 34(1), 27–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sahlberg, P. (2007). Education policies for raising student learning: The Finnish approach. Journal of Education Policy, 22(2), 147–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sautelle, E., Bowles, T., Hattie, J., & Arifin, D. N. (2015). Personality, resilience, self-regulation and cognitive ability relevant to teacher selection. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 40(4), 54–71. doi:10.14221/ajte.2015v40n4.4.Google Scholar
  57. Southgate, E., & Bennett, A. (2014). Excavating widening participation policy in Australian higher education: Subject positions, representational effects, emotion. Creative Approaches to Research, 7(1), 21–45.Google Scholar
  58. Southgate, E., Douglas, H., Scevak, J., Macqueen, S., Rubin, M., & Lindell, C. (2014). The academic outcomes of first-in-family in an Australian University: An exploratory study. International Studies in Widening Participation, 1(2), 31–45.Google Scholar
  59. Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. (TEMAG). (2014). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Canberra: Department of Education and Training. https://www.docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/action_now_classroom_ready_teachers_print.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2015.
  60. Trounson, A. (2016, March 2). Finding a way through the policy maze. Pursuit. https://www.pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/finding-a-way-through-the-policy-maze. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  61. Ulmer, J. B. (2016). Re-framing teacher evaluation discourse in the media: An analysis and narrative-based proposal. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 37(1), 43–55. doi:10.1080/01596306.2014.921756.Google Scholar
  62. University of New England. (UNE). (n.d.). Response to AITSL’s 2010 national system for the accreditation of preservice teacher education programs: Proposal for consultation. http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/university_of_new_england. Accessed 22 March 2016.
  63. Ure, C. (2015, October 15). Why scrap teaching degrees? There is no crisis in teacher education. The Conversation. http://www.theconversation.com/why-scrap-teaching-degrees-there-is-no-crisis-in-teacher-education-49059. Accessed 10 March 2016.
  64. Weldon, P. R. (2015). The teacher workforce in Australia: Supply, demand and data issues. Policy Insights (Issue 2). Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  65. Wilson, R., Dalton, B., & Baumann, C. (2015, March 16). Six ways Australia’s education system is failing our kids. The Conversation. https://www.theconversation.com/six-ways-australias-education-system-is-failing-our-kids-32958. Accessed 18 March 2015.
  66. Yüce, K., Şahin, E., Koçer, Ö., & Kana, F. (2013). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: A perspective of pre-service teachers from a Turkish context. Asia Pacific Education Review, 14(3), 295–306. doi:10.1007/s12564-013-9258-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhang, H., Yu, Q., Feng, C., Gunzler, D., Wu, P., & Tu, X. M. (2012). A new look at the difference between the GEE and the GLMM when modeling longitudinal count responses. Journal of Applied Statistics, 39(9), 2067–2079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Gore
    • 1
  • Rosie Joy Barron
    • 1
  • Kathryn Holmes
    • 2
  • Maxwell Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationWestern Sydney UniversityKingswoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations