North Coast teaching hub makes studying teaching practical and innovative

Thursday, 09 Mar 2023

A new three-year pilot to address the statewide teacher shortage is being trialled at six schools on the NSW North Coast, including Bishop Druitt College.

The North Coast pilot, led by the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW) in collaboration with Southern Cross University (SCU), brings Trainees and Mentor Teachers together in a teaching hub model.

The teaching hub model seeks to apply productive and innovative solutions to address the teacher shortage in our region through collaboration between each school, SCU and AISNSW. 

This exciting initiative, which began earlier this year, places two experienced teachers with two student or trainee teachers, and a school hub leader per school to build teacher skills that will equip and support our next generations of teachers. 

Trainee Teachers will also be employed as Teaching Assistants throughout the process.

Trainee teacher, Ethan Sultana, is currently in the hub program at Bishop Druitt College. Ethan said as a Teaching Assistant in the TAS department, he offers support for students in the classroom and workshop whilst assisting the teacher. For example, he may help a student develop their workmanship skills in the timber or metal technology subjects. In relation to the teaching hub program, he meets his Mentor Teacher fortnightly to examine whether targets are being reached and discuss strategies and skills to further his teaching practice. 

“I have really enjoyed my first few weeks in the hub program,” Ethan said. ”I have become familiar with the process of setting myself targets and reflecting upon my experiences inside and outside of the classroom. I have had lots of support from my mentor teacher, school hub coordinator and teachers from the TAS Faculty.” 

Mentor teacher Daniel Linke is from Bishop Druitt College. “Each day is organised so that there is a focus for both the trainee and I to work on and achieve.”

Currently, Daniel’s trainee is working on the familiarisation of all Teaching Standards and how each can be implemented within effective classroom practice. Time set aside to reflect on the lessons learnt throughout each day, building reflective practice and improvement to encourage trainees to use such tools in day-to-day practice.

“I have really enjoyed getting a greater insight into what trainee teachers are learning at university and how they are using this knowledge to inform best practice when working in the classroom,” Daniel said. “I have also really enjoyed building a professional relationship with my trainee and creating a mutually beneficial pathway for the exchange of knowledge to improve both of our teaching practices.” 

AISNSW Chief Executive Margery Evans said a key aim of the program is to enable trainees to practically apply what they have learnt at university in a timely and supported way.

“Teaching hubs provide the opportunity for Trainees from regional areas to stay close to their communities while working a minimum of one day a week in a school as they complete their study,” she said. 

“The range of participating schools in our pilot ensures Trainees experience diverse school contexts, cultures, and philosophies.”

“The hubs also provide Mentor Teachers and Hub School Coordinators with valuable growth opportunities and the reciprocal benefit of relational learning while engaging and supporting their Trainees.”

Bishop Druitt College Principal Nick Johnstone said this employment-based model provides Trainees with a regular income, addressing one of the main challenges experienced while they study.

“The mentoring experiences, tertiary study, real-life Teaching Assistant experiences and hub support model are all purposely designed to establish an atmosphere and a set of experiences that will equip the Trainee Teachers to seamlessly enter the profession.”  

“The North Coast Teaching Hub aims at retaining local talent in our community without losing them to the larger urban centres. Trainee Teachers can also remain connected to their social and family structures.” 

“This research also enables the opportunity to explore what effective collaboration between the tertiary sector, schools and organisations such as AISNSW looks like. It will ensure the most beneficial supports are provided to attract, nurture, and retain new teachers.”

The 2023 pilot of the AISNSW Teaching School Hubs program brings together 11 schools and over 55 Trainees, Mentor Teachers, and Hub School Coordinators across NSW.

From left: Ethan Sultana, Daniel Linke, Christabel Martin, Sarah Stokes, Alexis Warncken, Dr Rachel Perry, Nick Johnstone.