St Philips teachingschool 022

For the Whole of Their Life.

Celebrating the first graduates of the original mentor-based teacher training school in the Hunter

Posted 23rd May 2022
By Hannah Wellham

It is widely acknowledged across the education sector that there is an urgent crisis in teacher numbers. Fewer people are choosing to go into the teaching profession across the board and even fewer are choosing to stay long-term. This is largely as a result of failing to equip our teachers to be both educationally and contextually ready to enter the classroom.

As one of the largest independent school groups in Australia, the St Philip’s Christian College group of schools recognised the need to find a solution to produce high quality teachers to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organisation, and to address the broader teacher shortage issue. Their response in 2018 was to launch the St Philip’s Teaching School with a view to better equip pre-service teachers to be ready for the classroom upon completion of their studies.

The St Philip’s Teaching School is proud to be celebrating their first graduating cohort of the mentor-based, apprenticeship model of teacher training.

With a 100% employment rate, all of the graduates are well-trained and ready for the next stage of their career. The in-situ training model sees each teaching student employed in a classroom one to two days per week as a Teacher Assistant from the outset of their degree, with the other days attending lectures and studying to complete their degree through tertiary provider, Alphacrucis University College.

CEO of St Philip’s Christian Education Foundation, Mr Graeme Irwin AM, believes the innovative program will curb the growing statistics of teacher attrition across the country. Studies estimate that between 30 and 50 per cent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years*.

‘In my experience, many teachers were graduating from a theory-based degree with a handful of placements under their belt but without the tools required to fully understand the rigours of the school environment,’ Mr Irwin explains. ‘What we needed was to be able to provide a tertiary arm of our organisation where our emerging teachers could be trained in the classroom, applying their learnt theory immediately, as well as gaining full insight and understanding of all of the other aspects that make up life as a teacher.’

Since its inception in 2018, the St Philip’s Teaching School has received a significant amount of interest from prospective students who recognise the uniquely better pathway to the profession, expressions of interest have continued to grow exponentially every year. Interest has also been flooding in from other educational institutions across the country who are keen to follow suit, this has sparked the interest from a cross-section of Federal and State politicians who have been eager to visit the school to learn more about the alternate model of initial teacher training.

Principal of the Teaching School, Mrs Samantha Van de Mortel, believes this localised mentor-based model develops teachers who are confident not just in the theory of teaching practice, but in all of the rhythms of school life.

‘Our students are in the classroom from day one of their degree, they are immersed in the community of St Philip’s, Maitland and Hunter Christian Schools relating to the teaching staff and parent community, understanding the ebbs and flows of school life. When they graduate, they are confident and respected teachers who have been in a classroom setting for four years and are passionate and ready to walk into any school environment highly skilled and prepared for school life.’

The Life

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