New European report: How to make the teaching profession more attractive

In many parts of the world there is a shortage of qualified teachers. This is also the case in Europe. A new report commissioned by the European Commission looks at what Member States could do to attract the best people into the profession. You can download the report here.

What are the key insights:

  • In most European countries, the teaching profession has lost much of its attraction for the best candidates because of a decline in prestige, poorer working conditions and relatively low salaries. But Ireland, Finland, Scotland buck this trend
  • Few countries have specific, long-term strategies to make the profession more attractive to the best candidates, or even to evaluate the effectiveness of their current policies
  • In many countries, the teacher shortage is addressed by longer working hours for teachers, higher pupil-teacher ratios or an increase in the retirement age.

Of course these are not really solutions.

These are the recommendations:

Recruitment of future teachers

  • Diversify selection criteria to enable suitable candidates from other fields to enter the teaching profession.
  • Preserve high recruitment requirements.
  • Retraining for teachers
  • Devise and publicise assistance schemes for teachers who wish to leave the teaching profession for a different career.

Initial teacher education (ITE)

  • Ensure that student teachers come into contact with the field early on in their ITE and are made aware of real-life teaching requirements.
  • Provide solid training for school heads, teacher educators, mentors and teachers who coach student teachers.

Early career support (ECS)

  • Extend ECS programmes beyond the first year of teaching service to the first two or three years.
  • Reduce the number of classroom hours for new teachers, so as to facilitate their participation in ECS programmes.
  • Make comprehensive support programmes compulsory for all beginning teachers.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

  • Ensure that CPD is mandatory and free of charge.
  • Provide CPD in or close to the schools or education institutions to avoid waste of time, dispersion and inefficiency.
  • Organise ITE, ECS and in-service training as an integrated and consistent continuum of professional development during the whole of the teacher’s career.

Salaries

  • Define transparent criteria of professional excellence.
  • Encourage swifter salary increases for the most effective teachers.

Teachers facing difficulties

  • Be more attentive to teachers facing difficulties and help them solve their issues. In particular, develop adapted coaching.

Profession’s image

  • Communicate more about a profession that transmits values to future generations.
  • Develop partnerships with the media to foster a more accurate picture of the teaching profession.

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