The NZ Initiative have released a report called “Around the World: The Evolution of Teaching as a Profession” which is a comparative study of Singapore, Germany, Finland, England, Canada and Australia focused on improving teacher quality to deliver better educational outcomes.
Almost all respected research has concluded teacher quality is the most important factor in lifting achievement levels for students. It dwards ither factors such as socio-economic background, location, class size, principal, school size etc.
Four things the Initiative found that were important in the countries studied were:
Recruiting the best teachers: Finland, Germany and Singapore place strict quality controls on who gets admitted to teaching, ensuring that only the most dedicated, motivated, and academically talented people who have rapport with children become teachers.
Teaching how to teach: The best education systems encourage, or require, would-be teachers to have a master’s degree before entering the classroom. Even with the strong focus on the theoretical foundations of teaching, there is now more emphasis worldwide on practical training in learning on the job.
Career progression: Many other countries recognise remuneration is important for retaining talent. Singapore offers teachers the ability to progress up a career path for teachers to retain the best teachers in the classroom. England has disbanded step-lock pay increases, and Finnish teachers with exceptional skills are offered bonuses.
Develop teacher capacity: Career structures that encourage teachers to lead other teachers are increasingly being adopted internationally. This lateral capacity building is seen in Singapore, and in the way England’s schools are ‘chaining’ together. Ontario’s leading schools also pair up with other schools that serve a similar profile of students to help them raise student achievement.
So in essence they are saying make teacher training more practical, have much higher entry standards for teacher training, pay good teachers more just for being good teachers and develop better teacher capacity.
These would cost money to do, but would be a worthwhile investment.
The report says at one point:
In England, school principals are being given a lot more autonomy to pay their staff as they wish within minimum and maximum salary bands. The potential benefits include placing a premium on subject-teachers high in demand.
Excellent teachers stay in the system. But it also relies on having highly effective school leadership so that remuneration is fair. Singapore aligns remuneration with career progression, and Finnish principals pay bonuses to high performing teachers.
I think this is essential.
Also of note:
Governments that work with teacher unions have seen more success, particularly when strong accountability mechanisms and regulation is already in place. While in England, unions are striking against reforms, Germany’s teacher unions recognised after their poor results in PISA that they needed to get out in front of educational reforms. Ontario has managed peaceful relations with teacher unions over the last 10 years, and started with the assumption that teachers want to do the right thing.
I think this report is an opportunity for both the Government and the teacher unions.Tags: Education, NZ Initiative