Project lead: Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE)
Project funding: $191,670 Round 3 2013
The ACDE’s Engagement and Success project (Phase 2) builds on its earlier (2012) project, Retention and Graduation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Students in Initial Teacher Education (Phase 1).
The Phase 2 project supports faculties and schools of education in universities across Australia to attain the goals of MATSITI. At the end of 2013 there were 21 participating universities with each having nominated one or two staff to take leadership of the project.
The Phase 2 project is a testament to and builds on the success of the Phase 1 project. Achievements under the Phase 2 project include:
- establishing communication networks of staff in universities with responsibility for the project
- revising, refining and implementing action plans and collecting baseline data to identify good practice
- holding national meetings to showcase achievements, evaluate action plans and plan for the future
- developing mechanisms for sustainability.
The Phase 2 project compiled a set of scoping items which are strongly reflective of the findings in the key reports relating to the Phase 1 project: QUT (lead organisation) Report (December 2012); Evaluation Report of the Partnership Program between QUT, ACDE and MATSITI, School of Education and the Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University (December 2012); and information in the related literature searches. Participants assessed their progress against the scoping items.
A national forum in November 2014 in Melbourne was a significant event with over 40 participants representing schools of education and Indigenous centres, AITSL , the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI) and ten initial teacher education students. The keynote address again emphasised the importance of the relationships between school and Indigenous centre staff.
Recommendations out of the progress report of December 2014 Phase 2 project include:
- produce a discussion paper from the forum
- produce a regular newsletter for ACDE and MATSITI websites
- conduct focus groups throughout the year with ITE students
- universities with advanced action plans to mentor those in earlier phases.
Focus during 2015 was on mechanisms to ensure sustainability of the project including:
- ongoing national conversation about issues encountered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in initial teacher education
- inclusion in ACDE’s Strategic Plan 2016-2018 for a continued commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ education
- ensuring greater Indigenous representation as central to ACDE activities via the inclusion of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ representative on the ACDE Board (Professor Peter Buckskin)
- establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Advisory Committee
- sponsorship and involvement by ACDE in MATSITI’s OurMobTeach 2015 Conference.
Most faculties/schools now have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ representation on various committees, including faculty/school governance committees and curriculum/program development committees. There is also wider consultation and involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on curriculum and event matters.
The universities’ revised action plans have indicated the following developments:
- explicit commitment to Indigenous reconciliation/education demonstrated by an Indigenous statement or strategy
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ representation on faculty/school committees
- ongoing collaborative relationship and regular conversation with their institution’s Indigenous centre
- external partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and Indigenous Education Bodies
- well-established support mechanisms for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the faculty/school level, including having a designated person for students to access individual advice and assistance, mentorship and role models and customised programs and timetables
- well established processes in place to ensure a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff, including cultural competence and awareness training for all staff.
MATSITI evaluation conclusions
The Phase 2 project, like the Phase 1 project, confirms the importance of thorough research and planning in determining a project’s success. All phases of the project were followed up with participants, and the regular meetings, including teleconferences and the national forum, ensured that the momentum was maintained.
The highest level of importance was placed on the strengthening of the relationships, commenced under Phase 1, between school of education staff and Indigenous centre staff for collaborating on revised processes and protocols. These relationships are particularly significant because prior to the Phase 1 project they were largely non-existent.
The client group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education students, were encouraged to give their views on their needs and suggest ways of addressing them so that their chances of completing their qualification would be maximised.
The ACDE’s Phase 1 and 2 projects represent a significant commitment to increasing the enrolment and completion rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teacher education students. Regular qualitative and quantitative data gathering will reveal short term progress and feed into measurement of long term progress. It is vitally important that sharing best practice throughout a strengthening network, refining action plans and reporting on outcomes continue.
Project contact: Professor Toni Downes, ACDE Project Director, Engagement and Success Project