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This paper draws upon the evaluation of a university-school partnership in the provision of secondary pre-service teacher education through a mentor program and the development of a community of practice by embedding the course within a secondary college. Effective professional preparation requires a partnership between the university, employing bodies, schools, and the preservice teachers. Such a partnership was initiated in 2005 with the Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) between the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Canberra, the Catholic Education Office (Canberra/Goulburn), and Catholic schools. Secondary pre-service teachers were inducted into units of curriculum specialisation by university academics and leading teachers (mentors) from the schools in Canberra. In 2011 the program at ACU was further enhanced by embedding the course in St Mary MacKillop College. In the traditional model of pre-service education, few opportunities existed to experience the realistic on-site experience while attending university lectures.

The paper will examine the significance of mutualism in this university and school partnership. The paper will present current research evaluating the success of the program in addressing the nexus between theory and practice and the practical outcomes for pre-service students in the application of pedagogical content knowledge in real life classroom practice. Consideration will be given to the initiative from the school perspective and highlight the need for university-school connections, as well as the practical implications of embedding a university course within a workplace setting. The partnership provides a mutualistic relationship, which as it evolves, provides significant benefit to all participants.

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Conference Paper

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