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Rearranging pigeonholes: interrupting the ethnic hierarchy of a school's workforce

Price, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-5925-1133 (2009) Rearranging pigeonholes: interrupting the ethnic hierarchy of a school's workforce. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 29 (1). pp. 61-73.

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Increasing the cultural and linguistic diversity of the teaching workforce in Australia was a key recommendation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee Inquiry into Teacher Education in their report, Top of the Class (written by L. Hartsuyker). The report reflects findings from national and international research that support the need to increase the diversity of the teaching profession as a means to improve student outcomes, particularly given the increasingly diverse make-up of student populations. The Hartsuyker Report also notes, as a "national concern", the relatively low enrolment of World English-speaking (WES) students in Australian teacher education courses and calls for targeted funding by the federal government for further research into why this is the case (as discussed by J. Han and M. Singh in 2007). This paper seeks to add to current research on the attraction and retention of WES students into Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Australia. It does so by relating some of the key findings from a case study of three WES Education Assistants, originally from Malaysia, who retrained to become teachers through an ITE programme at an Australian university. Significantly, as a result of a partnership developed between a school and a university, they entered the programme through an alternative access course, were awarded Recognition of Prior Learning for their work experience, and were able to remain in their community while studying externally. They were also provided ongoing mentoring support by the teaching staff and myself as programme co-ordinator. This paper aims to add to current research in this field by identifying the key driving and restraining forces that impacted on their ability to become teachers via an Australian ITE programme.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © 2009 National Institute of Education, Singapore
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