AEU Pedagogy Policy

This policy has been developed by the AEU Education Committee, incorporating feedback from the broader AEU membership. It was endorsed by the AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Council on 14 June 2024.

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1. The AEU believes that the constant exercise of teacher professional autonomy and judgement are fundamental to the quality of learning in schools.

2. Pedagogy is at the centre of the professional work of teaching. Pedagogy - integrated with curriculum development, implementation and review, and assessment and reporting - is one of the three key elements through which teachers can exercise their professional judgement.

3. Teachers as professionals develop deep pedagogical expertise throughout their career based on:

  • a detailed knowledge of the context in which they are teaching
  • the needs of the students in their classes
  • the curriculum
  • a deep understanding of how students learn in the subject areas they are teaching.

This expertise must be respected and supported when teachers make professional decisions about the pedagogies appropriate for the learning programs in their classrooms and schools. The capacity of the teaching profession to successfully meet the learning needs of students must also be recognised by the Australian community.

4. Pedagogical models, and related staff professional development and centralised teaching resources, can help to support high quality teaching practices while reducing the preparatory burden placed on staff. To do this, any model for teaching needs to:

  • draw on the perspectives and expertise of teachers and other educators
  • allow time for staff to assess evidence-based models and resources, and to work together to select 
    those best suited to their school and students
  • ensure the role of teachers is not reduced solely to the implementation of others’ ideas
  • allow teachers to continue to develop and share their professional expertise with colleagues.

5. Pedagogical models that impose a culture of compliance and/or narrow solutions on teachers are not to be required by the Victorian Department of Education (the Department). The exercise of professional judgment allows for individualised support for students at the point of need. It also contributes to the intrinsic rewards and joys felt by teachers, flowing on positively to their wellbeing and commitment to the teaching profession.

6. Debates about teaching quality, for example in public discussions about education, need to meaningfully represent the breadth of teaching strategies and practices that teachers use. Debates must not misrepresent that there is one fixed best approach to teaching or a choice between only two possibilities, such as explicit instruction and inquiry. The teaching profession must be supported to respond to those who simplify pedagogical work.

7. The teaching profession must be given the opportunity and the time to be involved in the formulation, production and selection of research designed to inform teaching practices. This is because decisions about which evidence is the ‘best’ for teachers to use can be: political; dominated by particular worldviews; based on a limited evidence base; Western-centric; contestable; or determined for teachers rather than with them. Teachers’ own systematic observations of, and reflections on, students’ learning are also a form of evidence of teaching practice that cannot be discounted.

8. Teachers have both a right and responsibility to critically question and test the evidence claims and standards presented to them by the Department and external sources. 

9. A one-size-fits-all agenda which uses standardised testing scores as a proxy for educational quality is inappropriate. The Department needs to support and show confidence in the profession, and its capacity to develop and sustain teaching and learning quality, by supporting school staff to have the time to:

  • discuss and explore different teaching and learning practices, including a broad evidence-base
  • work together on common pedagogical and curriculum issues
  • share ideas within and across schools. 

The Department can then use the information generated by these processes to address school level needs, identified by the profession itself, to enhance and sustain educational quality.

10. As new technologies - such as artificial intelligence - continue to emerge, it must be recognised that teacher’s pedagogical and relational expertise is central to the educational experience of students and cannot be replaced. For example, scripted and programmed technological ‘solutions’ that are promoted as more ‘effective’ or ‘personal’ than classroom teaching are often not supported by evidence of improved student outcomes.

11. A commitment to sustaining improvements in student learning needs to prioritise:

  • placing teachers - rather than those outside of the profession - at the centre of any decisions made about the pedagogies, programs and technologies that are to be implemented in schools and how to adapt these to best suit the needs of their students
  • investment in school staff professional expertise, including giving staff the time to collaborate with peers and undertake high-quality learning and development
  • trust in teachers’ professional judgement, autonomy and pedagogical expertise. This includes providing supports for teachers to develop their capabilities in these areas
  • resourcing to enable the teaching and learning conditions that are needed to meet students’ diverse learning and welfare needs.

Read the full policy