ACE transitions to Education Australia

16 Nov 2023

Following a thorough consultation process under the guidance of a project advisory group from the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), the Australian College of Educators (ACE) is transitioning to the Educators Australia model. This transition aligns with our goal to reimagine ACE within a contemporary educational context while upholding its foundational principles as a powerful voice for the profession. 

Educators Australia is a national network for teachers in Australia, creating a dynamic network; a community of practice that connects educators across the learning eco system. Its primary aim is to strengthen collaboration and inquiry among educators at all stages of their careers. By uniting educators from various backgrounds and experiences, it aims to explore innovative solutions and collectively enhance education in Australia. 

The Centre for Strategic Education (CSE) will provide support in convening and connecting promising teams to create valuable resources, artefacts, and toolkits. These resources will support the lines of inquiry that Educators Australia establishes, empowering educators to explore innovative solutions and drive positive change. 

Educators Australia will host several sessions to provide more clarity and direction about their work and updates on the progress of the network as more people get involved. 

The first online session will take place on Monday 20 November 2023 at 4:30 pm AEDT. It will be hosted by Summer Howarth (Educators Australia Convener) and Anthony Mackay (CEO, CSE) 

RSVP to the launch event.

16 August 2023

Transition of the Australian College of Educators to Educators Australia

Following the validation process for Educators Australia undertaken by Summer Howarth and the subsequent advice of the project advisory group we are pleased to announce that the Australian College of Educators is transitioning to an entirely new and exciting model under the name Educators Australia. This is in keeping with our original intent – to reimagine ACE within a transformative contemporary social and educational context whilst continuing to honour the foundational principles of the organisation as a voice for the profession.

We want to take the opportunity to thank former office bearers of the College, ACE Board and Advisory Board members, the state and territory chairs of ACE committees and those who have led regional groups for playing such a key role over the majority of the College’s history. All have made valuable contributions and demonstrated great commitment and loyalty to the College.

We also want to thank ACER for the important role it has played in sponsoring ACE under its management and in also the backing ACER has given to the work undertaken by Summer.

We are pleased to announce that Summer Howarth has agreed to take the role of National Network Coordinator for Educators Australia. The official launch of Educators Australia will take place in Term 4 of this year. You will be notified of the launch date.

The launch signals an inquiry of national significance into the future of the Educator Profession through Educators Australia – the activation of a national network of educators sharing practice and research, developments and innovations on a digital commons. As we move into the next phase of reform for the K- 12 years and for the tertiary system of education in Australia a transformed educator work force is needed. The educator profession is encouraged to take the lead in this work – the launch of Educators Australia is intended to enable this leadership.

With any change we recognise that there will be questions particularly from those who have been ACE members not only about Educators Australia but also about ACE and its legacy. Accordingly, following is a set of frequently asked questions and responses developed which we expect will go a long way to clarifying some key matters.

What ongoing role will be played by ACER?

ACER will provide ongoing support for conserving historical College content and contribute assistance and support for the transitioning process. ACER’s Cunningham Library has been working with members to identify and collect historical College content, including content from Professional Educator, the College website, records and recordings of awards and orations, etc. ACER is currently looking at ways to ensure this content will remain accessible and discoverable into the future.

What is CSE’s role and association with Educators Australia?

Anthony Mackay AM as CEO of the Centre for Strategic Education (CSE) has indicated his support for Educators Australia over the next 12 months as it seeks to develop a National Network. This support may take the form of publications, website referencing, convenings and advocacy.

What is the governing body or arrangement for Educators Australia?

Educators Australia is a national network for teachers in Australia (a community of practice) that connects schools, colleges and campuses to systems and encourages collaboration and collective decision-making. Unlike ACE there is no Board that will govern what, how or when the network operates. The National Network Coordinator, with the assistance of a working group, will play a key role in the initial formation of Educators Australia networks.

Where will records of ACE members, Life Members, Fellows, Award Recipients and other key records be housed?

As part of efforts to identify and conserve College content, ACER’s Cunningham Library will explore options for preserving historical records of College membership, fellowship and award recipients.

How does one become involved with Educators Australia and is it a member organisation or some other kind of organisation?

Educators Australia welcomes all educators. It is not a formal membership organisation with fees, sign-ups and formal approvals – all educators are welcome. Participating in and initiating activities and projects through Educators Australia will be through an uncomplicated sign-up enabling educators to get actively involved as opportunities to explore ideas and projects arise as these are generated.

What is the status of ACE post-nominals?

Membership of ACE and status as a Fellow have been directly linked to ongoing payment of the annual ACE membership fees. Given that the decision of ACE members at an extraordinary general meeting in 2019 to change from being a member-organisation and the recent decision to cease the collection of an annual fee means that there is no longer capacity to be a member of ACE, nor a Fellow of the College. Accordingly, MACE and FACE as post-nominals have no ongoing status but remain a testimony to individual recipients and the collective special contribution to Australian education of many members of the College.

What happens to the ACE regional groups?

The change to Educators Australia means that there is no longer a governing body of ACE nor its state/territory or regional structures, where these have existed.

Can the ACE name still be used by regional groups as part of their local recognition awards program?

ACE has transitioned to Educators Australia. There would be no formal existing ACE body promoting, issuing, funding or acknowledging such awards.

July 2023

We wish to provide you with an update on the validation process for the model for Educators Australia. As you may recall, this model aimed to reimagine the Australian College of Educators (ACE) within a transforming contemporary social and educational context, whilst continuing to honour the organisation’s foundational principles as a voice for the profession.

Professional learning communities and associations have long played a crucial role in the development and growth of educators. The goal of Educators Australia is to reinvigorate a supportive and productive network that caters to the needs of educators, offering valuable opportunities for shared professional experiences and meaningful connections within the teaching profession and education ecosystem.

The case for Educators Australia | a new network for educators. 
A summary of the report prepared by Summer Howarth commissioned by ACER

The validation process followed co-design principles, involving a range of individuals from diverse settings across Australia. It included in-person sessions and an online platform to gather insights, resulting in approximately 224 contributions and 28 hours of collective consultation. Participants were asked questions about their experiences in professional networks, defining an “educator,” use of professional resources, and emerging trends in education. While the process had its limitations, such as participant variation, communication challenges with existing members, diverse perceptions of the need for the process, and generational preferences for communication and consultation, the findings from the validation process are insightful.

The report summarises over 50 findings and outlines the validation process for the Educators Australia model, suggests key areas of focus for a newly established network, and proposes potential next steps for validating the model in action. It highlights the need for a coordinated network that supports early career teachers, facilitates shared experiences, brokers professional development opportunities, and serves as a connection point between educational systems and schools. Core principles such as inclusivity, networking, community building, equity, technology, and collaboration are identified.

Key findings include:

  • Building a Coordinated Network: Respondents stressed the importance of a network that provides targeted support to regional and rural educators, with a collective identity representing all regions of Australia. Restructuring a way of governing or administering the network and nurturing the digital commons network were identified as essential for achieving equity and access.
  • Supporting Early Career Teachers: Participants emphasised the need for a supportive network offering resources, mentorship programs, and collaboration opportunities to help early career teachers navigate challenges and foster their professional development. Establishing a central hub that enables access to research, self-directed questioning, and moderated discussions was seen as crucial.
  • Drawing together Shared Experiences and Empowerment: The positive impact of participation in professional learning communities and associations on educators’ professional journeys was acknowledged. Creating networks that facilitate the exchange of ideas, sharing challenges and successes, and developing meaningful relationships was identified as empowering and fostering a sense of belonging.
  • Brokering Professional Development Opportunities: The organisation was seen as a facilitator of shared inquiry opportunities and a trusted source of content delivered through various channels. This support enables teachers to engage in continuous learning, stay updated with educational trends, and acquire new skills.
  • Being a Connection Point for System to Schools: Establishing connections with educational systems and schools was recognised as crucial for building a strong network. Collaborating with educational systems, existing professional bodies, and schools maximises the impact of professional learning communities and associations.

By recognising the importance of professional learning communities and associations and leveraging their potential, a reimagined organisation in the form of a network can enhance support and grow opportunities for early career teachers and educators at all stages of their careers. Through shared experiences, empowerment, professional development, and collaboration with like-minded organisations, this refreshed organisation can foster a thriving community that empowers educators, promotes teaching excellence, and ultimately improves student outcomes.

During the validation process, participants:

  1. Identified a clear need for a national network for teachers in Australia that connects school to system and is focused on people and transformative initiatives.
  2. Saw the benefits of creating a community of practice for teachers, providing (directly or indirectly through partnership) ongoing professional development, and connecting educators across all sectors.
  3. Recognised the challenges to creating an effective network and the importance of inclusivity and diversity, as well as the need for clear and effective communication and purpose.

Further, 8 core principles emerged for a teacher-focused network or organisation. Participants believed that this network should:

  1. Promote and ensure inclusivity.
  2. Foster strong and productive networking.
  3. Build community.
  4. Focus on education for equity.
  5. Have clear strategic and operational positions on the role of technology.
  6. Support early career teachers.
  7. Connect teachers across a range of positions and career stages.
  8. Encourage collaboration and collective decision-making.

Next  Steps

Based on these findings, we are excited to share with you the potential next steps for exploring the model in action. We invite ACE members and interested individuals to participate in a national learning network project: Activating the teaching profession. This national project of significance would seek to activate the profession in taking a leadership role in transforming our education system and redesigning the educator profession .

Over a 12-month period, the project would look to develop a national network of local hubs of collaborative and intergenerational communities of practice, committed to a diversity, inclusion and equity agenda.  It would involve early career teachers, experienced educators, and stakeholders in a range of local, yet nationally connected networks brought together in a digital commons.

The project would seek to prove the concept of a learning network (Educators Australia) and attract ongoing funding. Outputs could include reports, frameworks, resources, and a sustainability plan that reflects on the ways of working in a learning network model. The project’s success would be evidenced by the involvement of local hubs and communities of practice across the country.

We will provide further national project details on the formation of local hubs for Educators Australia in August, 2023.

We are delighted that Anthony Mackay, a member of ACE’s Advisory Board, has indicated his support over the next 12 months as CEO of Melbourne’s Centre for Strategic Education (CSE) for Educators Australia as it seeks to develop the national network. Importantly, we are excited to announce that Summer Howarth, convenor of the validation process, will be the National Network Coordinator for Educators Australia.

As we move to the next phase, we would like to acknowledge ACER’s significant sponsorship of ACE  and its continuing support of this reimagination. ACER will continue to host the ACE archives – including maintaining records of existing ACE awards, fellowships and formal recognitions – act as custodians of ACE’s considerable history of transformational impact on education in Australia.

We extend our gratitude for your valuable contributions and support throughout this process. Your input has been instrumental in shaping Educators Australia. We remain committed to implementing the recommendations and ensuring that the network serves the needs of educators nationwide.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Phil Lambert
President, Australian College of Educators

Ralph Saubern
Deputy CEO, ACER

On behalf of the Project Advisory Group

Dr Phil Lambert PSM, Geoff Masters AO, Ralph Saubern, Anthony Mackay AM, Liliana Mularczyk OAM, Simon Gipson OAM, Summer Howarth