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UC Affiliated Schools Program expanding to more Canberra schools

Katarina Slavich

18 November 2019: The University of Canberra Affiliated Schools Program is expanding, with five more Canberra schools to take part in the program, taking the total number of affiliate schools to 26.

The UC Affiliated Schools Program allows schools in the Canberra region to connect with the University as part of student teacher training. It’s also geared towards developing teachers in the field and undertaking classroom-based research to inform and improve their teaching.

The ‘Teachers as Researchers’ approach sees teachers simultaneously taking on the roles of researchers, allowing them to develop and evaluate innovative approaches to meet the learning needs of school students.

One of the main elements of the program sees pre-service teachers engage in school-based clinics instead of conventional course tutorials. This allows them additional invaluable real-life classroom experience.

Another important element of the program sees UC led research support designed to best meet the needs of local schools.

The program also includes Master of Education degree scholarships for experienced teachers, and professional learning through collaboration.    

Implemented in early 2019, the program is already producing fantastic results, with strong connections forged between teachers and local schools, which are building the skills teachers will require to meet the needs and aspirations of public school students into the future.

Director of the UC Affiliated Schools Program, Clinical Associate Professor Kerrie Heath, says that this program has been made possible thanks to a mutual and trustful relationship between the University and the ACT Education Directorate.

“This is about a shared moral commitment to the children of the ACT region,” said Professor Heath. “Therefore, the decisions that we make are collective decisions, which makes this program stand apart.”

“Over the last 18 months, the University and the ACT Education Directorate have worked together to evolve this program into something that is dynamic. Rather than ending with a particular project, it will continue to grow,” said Professor Heath.

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry says the program is about embedding and sharing the most innovative practice for education across local schools.

“The program allows opportunities for teachers and pre-service teachers to do research projects in the classroom, where they can test and trial teaching methods that are innovative,” said Ms Berry.

“They have experience of teachers mentoring them and providing feedback about how that’s working, then going back to the University of Canberra to provide feedback about how those teaching methods are being applied in real life.

“It’s about having an actual human element to teaching. Rather than the curriculum just being a toolkit, we can see how it is being taught on the ground.”

Selina Davill is a Year 3 to 6 Learning Coach at Margaret Hendry School, which has just joined the program.

Ms Davill had a long career in health promotion and policy, but becoming a teacher was always in the back of her mind.

“Through the program, having the opportunity to come into a school and meet with students, getting to know them as individuals, and deliver a lesson and adjusting it to meet students’ needs – this is what teaching is really about,” said Ms Davill.

“The beauty of this program is that you are not just experiencing different learning environments, you are working with other people and their skills, while constantly reflecting on your own practice to be a better teacher, and to get students really excited about their learning.”