Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003

MEDIA RELEASE Wednesday 22 October 2003 Young teachers face bright futures Australian teachers currently beginning and in the early stages of their careers are likely to be given excellent opportunities to obtain leadership positions over the next 10-15 years according to a leading education consultant. Barbara Preston, who has been investigating the teaching labour market at various times over more than two decades, was speaking in Melbourne yesterday at Research Conference 2003 hosted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Ms Preston presented a study of the career experiences and circumstances of three different cohorts of Australian teachers: cohort 1 consisting of teachers currently in the late stages of their careers and aged in their late 40s to early 50s; cohort 2 consisting of teachers currently in the middle stages of their careers and aged from the 30s to early 40s; and cohort 3 made up of teachers currently beginning and in the early stage of their careers and mostly aged to their late 20s. Ms Preston said that, as a result of the changing age profile of the teaching profession, for many in the younger cohort of teachers there will be both opportunities and demands for responsibility and initiative and the group as a whole may be able to take on professional leadership while still quite young. “Cohort 1 is the largest cohort and has numerically and professionally dominated teaching in this country since the 1970s and the second cohort has been in its shadow. Cohort 2 entered teacher education and teaching at the nadir of the profession’s community esteem and received little support from school authorities. As cohort 1 moves into retirement, teachers from cohort 2 will be expected to take on leadership positions in schools, systems and teacher organisations. “With the projected shortage of school principals and education faculty academics over the next decade, the cohort 2 teachers, who have been given so little support and attention will become the most precious and sought after group. Given the demands on this small cohort, those following after them (cohort 3) may be given great opportunities for career advancement at a relatively young age.” The changing age profiles and different circumstances of cohorts have many policy implications for the teaching profession, school authorities and other stakeholders according to Ms Preston. She called for effective strategies to be developed to ensure that socio-cultural and professional gaps between the oldest and youngest cohorts of teachers are bridged. ******** ENDS ********