Examining ‘permission to teach’ policy in practice: Supporting or experimenting with preservice teachers’ development?

Tanya Davies, Scott Bulfin

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In the pre-COVID environment, teacher recruitment, retention and attrition had long been flagged as a significant challenge facing Australian education systems and schools. While the numbers remain contested, research and mainstream media in Australia have for some time reported that between 30-50% of early career teachers are susceptible to leaving the profession within their first 5 years of teaching. In a post-COVID context there is anecdotal evidence from many schools that the difficulties of retention are extending well beyond early career teachers and are getting much worse. After two years of intense lockdowns, school closures and remote learning in 2020 and 2021, the profession has seen teachers of all levels of experience leave the profession in large numbers.
With schools continuing to recover and adapt to a post-COVID reality, education systems in the States and Territories have developed ‘permission to teach’ policies in an attempt to respond to the teacher shortage and keep schools running. These policies allow schools to employ Initial Teacher Education Students (ITES) in the final or final two years of their teacher education degrees under the ‘provisional permission to teach’ protocol. While the particular requirements of employment of ITES in schools differ across States and Territories, these initiatives, which employ current teacher education students as qua graduate teachers, raise important and rather urgent questions for a profession already experiencing high rates of Early Career Teacher (ECT) attrition and loss. In addition to concerns related to ITES and the sustainability of permission to teach policies, there are implications for teacher education too. Teacher education providers are under increased scrutiny and pressure to produce ‘job ready’ graduates and to strengthen teacher education programs. In this context, permission to teach policies can undermine ongoing efforts to strengthen teacher education in response to the complexities of the current education climate.
In this workshop we present preliminary findings from an ongoing research project that investigates the experiences of ITES currently working in schools under ‘permission to teach’ policies. The project examines policy and media reporting alongside the experiences of teacher education students on permission to teach contracts, their school colleagues, and university teacher educators tasked with their professional development. These findings begin to map implications for professional practice, the sustainability of the teaching profession, and for teacher education.


ConferenceAustralian Association of Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleTruth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research

We look forward to welcoming you to the AARE 2023 Conference hosted by the University of Melbourne. The theme of the conference this year is Truth, Voice, Place: Critical junctures for educational research. We invite education researchers to explore critical junctures in the field. We are excited to bring together a diverse community of scholars to engage in meaningful discussions and exchange ideas on the pressing issues facing education research today.

As you will see in the Call for Papers, one immediate context for the conference theme is the upcoming referendum on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. This represents one of the many critical junctures facing educational researchers today, both locally and internationally. The conference aims to provide a welcome forum for scholars to discuss the implications of this historic moment, alongside the intersection of education research with broader local and global change.

We welcome submissions from education researchers across all areas of the field, including curriculum, policy, pedagogy, assessment, and leadership. We hope that the conference will provide opportunities for transformation, new possibilities, and new collaborations.
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