How does The Victorian Teaching Profession Code of Conduct relate to the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics?

Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics is a set of statements about appropriate and expected behaviour of early childhood professionals. It reflects current pedagogical research and practice, providing a framework for reflection about the ethical responsibilities of early childhood professionals.

The VIT Code of Conduct has been developed for and by the Victorian teaching profession; it identifies a set of principles, which describe the professional conduct, personal conduct and professional competence expected of a teacher by their colleagues and their community.

There are overlaps between the two codes in professional conduct and professional competence. These documents are complementary and an early childhood teacher should conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with both codes.

The Victorian Teaching Profession Code of Conduct applies to all teachers and early childhood teachers registered with VIT.

How can a provisionally registered teacher (PRT) demonstrate they are proficient in Standard 1.4, strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander learners?

A PRT should consider individual children’s progress in relation to the Learning and Development Outcomes and / or the Victorian Curriculum. Part of this consideration includes any modifications the PRT makes to their practice to assist an ATSI learner to access the learning. The evidence of this may be found in the learning programs and experiences as well as lesson and unit plans.

The following are some examples of evidence for descriptor 1.4:

  • lesson / day plans that incorporate the use of narrative (e.g. films, texts, oral stories) to engage Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander learners;
  • learning that incorporates the use of Aboriginal community members (especially elders) to explore themes, ideas and skills; and
  • lesson observation notes or anecdotal records that reflect management of learner behaviour that is sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners.

If a PRT does not have an Australian and Torres Strait Islander learner child in their group(s), the PRT can:

  • observe an experienced teacher’s practice and / or approach to an Australian and Torres Strait Islander learner and base their demonstration of Standard 1.4 on another child in the educational setting; or 
  • include a hypothetical Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander learner to demonstrate the standard.

Then the questions to ask are:

  • what would I do if I had this learner in my group? 
  • how would I design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners?

It would be beneficial to include at least one professional discussion with the mentor that includes a few hypotheticals, which focus on what the PRT will do and how they will record the approach that they would take.

Teachers may find the following resources useful:

How can a PRT demonstrate they are proficient in Standard 1.6, strategies to support full participation of learners with disability?

A PRT should consider the modifications to the curriculum and / or their practice they need to make to support the full participation of learners with disability. The evidence of this will may be in the teacher’s program and individual learning experiences / lesson or unit plans.

The following are some examples of evidence for descriptor 1.6:

  • meets the learning needs of a learner with a disability through the differentiation of experiences and tasks recorded in the teaching program;
  • develops individual learning plans for learners with disability;
  • indicates strategies that addresses disability policy or legislation through annotations in learning experiences / lesson or unit plans; and
  • designs and implements play and learning programs that utilise notes of meetings with families, specialist support teams or services.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) provides a definition of learners with disability. This is quite broad and includes:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions;
  • total or partial loss of a part of the body;
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness;
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body;
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; and
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or that results in disturbed behaviour.

The definition of disability includes those learners with disability who are supported by general resources available within the school or service, as well as learners who are receiving targeted specialist education services and supports.

The impact of the learner’s disability should result in the school or service actively addressing the learner’s specific individual education and learning and development needs arising from their disability. This should be done within quality differentiated teaching practice and / or by monitoring the learner, or providing a ‘supplementary’ / higher level of support.

Whilst this definition is broad and includes a wide range of disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism spectrum disorder or hearing and vision impairments, it does not include learners who speak English as a second language. While this may present some teaching or learning challenges, it is not considered a disability.

Teachers may find the following resources useful:

Why doesn’t Victoria recognise a standards level beyond ‘proficient’ like other jurisdictions?

For a regulatory authority to recognise levels beyond proficient requires a certification process involving a rigorous and robust assessment of evidence of practice. Through this process, certified teachers demonstrate their impact on colleagues and students and develop a deep understanding of their own practice along with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Currently three states and one Territory have processes in place. In NSW and WA the accreditation process is linked to salary.

In 2011, the Victorian Premier rejected the offer to provide funding to undertake the accreditation process. In 2012, VIT undertook a pilot project with a group of non-government and government school teachers, looking at the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher certification process, however no implementation followed this project.

How will my PRT / mentor find out about the provisional to (full) registration requirements?

In order to create awareness and assist PRTs in the provisional to (full) registration process VIT:

Where can a PRT learn more about the Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct?

VIT has developed, and will continue to develop, a series of videos and podcasts on the Code of Conduct.

Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics can be accessed here