‘Building effective school-university partnerships for a quality teacher workforce: A Victorian led initiative’ project, (‘BESUP’), funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development from 2010 – 2011, was conducted by the research team from the School of Education, Deakin University in collaboration with key personnel in two ‘clusters’ of schools located in the Maroondah Education Coalition and in Keysborough/Noble Park.
The overall aim of this project was to examine a pilot model of effective school-university partnership that engages pre-service and in-service teachers and researchers in the co-production of professional knowledge and practice. The model of a university-school partnership that was investigated in the research project was developed as part of the Master of Teaching, a 16 credit pre-service postgraduate course in the School of Education that had the first intake of pre-service teachers in March, 2010. In the design and implementation of the Master of Teaching course, the School of Education set out to create a new relationship between key stakeholders in the preparation of the next generation of teachers. A commitment to doing the professional experience component differently was central to the conceptualization of the new course. To this end, three new professional experience curriculum units were designed with the placements ‘embedded’ into the units themselves.
The research questions that shaped the BESUP research project are:
• What are the design features of an effective school-university partnership model?
• What are the features of cross-generational (pre-service, in-service) models of quality supervision, mentoring and support in a school-university partnership model?
• What are the conditions for an effective professional development program for teachers and academic staff to support professional experience within school-university partnerships?
That the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development funded this research is evidence of the system’s awareness of and concern for investigating ways forward that will provide the next generation of teachers with strong links between the learning experiences undertaken in the university component of their pre-service teacher education and the professional experience component located in schools. The report suggests the significance of ongoing professional conversations and new ways of engaging in professional learning among all of the partners.