copy the linklink copied!Chapter 2. School improvement: Policy priorities and trends, 2008-19

This chapter identifies developments in policy priorities related to school improvement between 2008 and 2019, both from the perspective of education systems across participating education systems in OECD member countries and non-member economies, and previous OECD country-based work. Such policy priorities include improving learning conditions to support all students; supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff; attracting and retaining teachers; improving teacher qualifications, skills and training; as well as improving teachers’ working conditions, among others.

Taking a comparative approach, this chapter also analyses policy trends identified for school improvement between 2008 and 2019, providing evidence of progress or impact for a selection of policies

    

copy the linklink copied!Highlights

  • This chapter analyses policy priorities and trends on school improvement across participating education systems in terms of learning environments, high-quality teachers and school leaders.

  • The most frequently observed policy priorities related to school improvement from 2008 to 2019 were: improving teacher qualifications, skills and training (identified in 31 education systems); attracting and retaining teachers (identified in 23 education systems); and improving learning conditions to support all students (identified in 23 education systems). Other priorities identified related to: improving school leaders’ qualifications (identified in 14 education systems); improving teachers’ working conditions (identified in 12 education systems); supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff (identified in 8 education systems); and raising the attractiveness of the school leader position (identified in 6 education systems).

  • The most frequently observed trends in policy developments related to school improvement from 2008 to 2019 were on: improving education systems’ learning environments (through general strategies for schools, policies aimed at improving learning conditions to support all students, and policies on digitalisation of schools); developing high-quality teachers (through measures such as professional frameworks and career pathways, recruitment and registration, incentives and stimuli, initial teacher education, induction processes and professional development); and supporting school leaders (mainly through professional frameworks and competence development).

copy the linklink copied!Setting the scene

How can education systems build a more flexible 21st-century learning environment and help schools innovate? Education systems are increasingly confronted with these questions (Schleicher, 2018[1]).

It turns out that school improvement policies are essential in establishing the conditions required for a more innovative and flexible education system that supports student achievement according to individual needs and social and technological change.

In line with this, the Education Policy Outlook Analytical Framework defines school improvement policies as those that aim to strengthen learning environments and develop high-quality teachers and school leaders (see Figure 2.1) (OECD, 2015[2]).

Effective 21st-century learning environments create communities and build capacities within them, strengthening collaboration and communication, creating conducive conditions and climates for teaching and learning, and seeking coherence in these efforts (Schleicher, 2015[3]). These learning conditions can support students to learn how to better navigate worlds that are increasingly volatile, unstable, complex and ambiguous (Bennis and Nanus, 1985[4]). Moreover, in contexts of increasing student diversity, inclusive learning environments play a crucial role in nurturing stronger schools and societies.

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Figure 2.1. School improvement according to the Education Policy Outlook Framework
Figure 2.1. School improvement according to the Education Policy Outlook Framework

Source: OECD (2015[2]), Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264225442-en.

As part of the process of strengthening learning environments, education systems also need to develop high-quality teachers. A high-quality teaching body is not just a “given” among high-performing education systems, however; it is the result of deliberate policy choices carefully implemented over time. With this in mind, education systems can learn from different education models to find alternatives that can be relevant to their specific contexts (OECD, 2018[5]). This learning opportunity can be of great value to education systems, as teachers and education systems need to support students, now more than ever, to learn how to better navigate change and develop a mindset conducive to lifelong learning.

Besides teachers, school leaders play an increasingly important role in establishing and ensuring well-functioning 21st-century learning environments. School leaders often act as the bridge between teachers, students, parents or guardians, the education system as a whole and the wider community (OECD, 2016[6]). OECD evidence emphasises that effective school leaders are those who can make evidence-informed decisions, provide the instructional leadership that teachers need to help all their students to succeed in school, and create a collaborative school environment in which teachers take part in school decision making (Schleicher, 2015[3]). Moreover, school leaders are often the first implementers of an education system, as they are tasked with translating education policies into reality within their schools so they become part of everyday practice.

With this framework as a basis, this chapter provides a comparative overview of the evolution of policy priorities related to school improvement, as identified by the OECD in previous country-based work, and as reported by participating education systems at different points between 2008 and 2019.

General principles of action, as identified by the OECD to support countries in tackling these priorities, are then explored.

The chapter also analyses policy trends in over 130 education policy developments undertaken mainly between 2008 and 2019. Over half of the policies collected have been in place since at least 2014, offering evidence of progress or impact in most cases. Throughout this chapter, evidence of progress or impact is included, in order to assist the reader in analysing factors relevant to the implementation of these policies (also see Chapter 1 and the Reader’s Guide).

All the policy reforms relating to school improvement and collected by the Education Policy Outlook are listed in the policy trends tables included in this chapter; more detailed descriptions of each of these policies and, where possible, their progress or impact, can be found in Chapter 8.

copy the linklink copied!Learning environments

Learning environments play an increasingly important role in ensuring students’ success at school by influencing how students and teachers interact. The OECD defines learning environments as covering four key components: learners (the centrepiece), educators, content and resources. More specifically, this includes structural school-level conditions such as class size, learning and instruction time, the curriculum and share of instruction within the curriculum by subject, all of which are tangible policy areas used across countries to improve the learning process (OECD, 2015[2]) (for curriculum-focused policies, see Chapter 4 of this report). As of 2018, lower secondary teachers across the OECD spent an average of 78% of lesson time on actual teaching and learning, 13% on keeping order in the classroom and 8% on administrative tasks. However, there appears to be a negative trend across the OECD: over the period 2008-19, for the majority of those countries with statistically significant data (12 out of 17 countries), there has been a decline in the percentage of class time dedicated to teaching and learning (OECD, 2019[7]).

As student bodies become increasingly heterogeneous across education systems, schools have to improve education outcomes for all students by creating inclusive learning environments. There are many ways in which a student population can be diverse; the OECD identifies five main themes: migration; ethnic groups and visible minorities; disabilities, learning impairments and mental health; gender; and giftedness (OECD, 2019[8]). According to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, on average across the OECD, classrooms host a complex mix of learners: nearly one in three teachers teach in schools where more than 10% of students have special needs, just over one in five teach in schools where more than 10% of students are non-native speakers and one in five in schools where more than 30% of students come from socio-economically disadvantaged homes (see Figure 2.2) (OECD, 2019[7]). Ensuring all students have high outcomes is therefore an ongoing challenge for teachers across the OECD: in terms of average science performance, boys outperform girls by 4 points, native students outperform their immigrant peers by 43 points and advantaged students outperform disadvantaged students by 88 points (OECD, 2018[9]).

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Figure 2.2. School composition, according to principals of lower secondary schools, 2018
Figure 2.2. School composition, according to principals of lower secondary schools, 2018

Notes:

1. Principals’ responses were merged to teacher data and weighted using teacher final weights.

2. Students who are “non-native speakers” refer to “students whose first language is different from the language(s) of instruction or from a dialect of this/these languages.”

3. “Students with special needs” are those for whom a special learning need has been formally identified because they are mentally, physically, or emotionally disadvantaged.

4. “Socio-economically disadvantaged homes” refers to homes lacking the basic necessities or advantages of life, such as adequate housing, nutrition or medical care.

5. “Immigrant students” refers to “students who are immigrants or with a migrant background”, as reported by the school principal. An “immigrant student” is one who was born outside the country. A “student with a migrant background” has parents who were both born outside the country.

6. “Refugee” students are those who, regardless of legal status, fled to another country seeking refuge from war, political oppression, religious persecution or a natural disaster.

Source: OECD (2019[10]), TALIS 2018 Database, Table 1.3.25, https://www.oecd.org/education/talis/talis-2018-data.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997265

Policy priorities

Improving learning conditions to support all students

Through specific country-based work, the OECD has identified improving learning conditions to support all students as a policy priority in several education systems. This includes addressing the needs of specific student groups, as well as providing support to schools to develop well-functioning learning environments. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least a total of 23 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (10 education systems), by participating education systems (19 education systems), or both (6 education systems) (Figure 2.3).

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Figure 2.3. Improving learning conditions to support all students
Figure 2.3. Improving learning conditions to support all students

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to Education Policy Outlook (EPO) Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this as a policy priority in at least nine education systems from 2015-19 (Austria, the Flemish Community of Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece and Latvia). It was also identified as a priority in the Slovak Republic in 2008-14.

Common principles of action mentioned by the OECD in recommendations to these education systems include introducing measures to improve learning conditions to support all students. More specifically, these recommended measures include improving human resource strategies to strengthen teaching and learning in schools. These can be as broad as developing teacher standards or professional development opportunities that have a strong link to the school context. Other recommended measures include providing increased support to teachers for classroom management and offering monetary incentives to attract more experienced teachers to schools with a high share of students from a disadvantaged background. Further measures link to investing in the physical infrastructure of schools, such as through the development of a more integrated system for infrastructure development and better use of data at all system levels, to foster an environment that allows for school improvement to take place.

For example, in 2017, the OECD recommended that France offer attractive salaries and career prospects to excellent teachers in schools with many students from disadvantaged backgrounds (OECD, 2017[11]). Previously, in 2015, the OECD had recommended that the Flemish Community of Belgium develop a more integrated system-wide planning procedure for school infrastructure, and improve the quantity and quality of school facilities (Nusche et al., 2015[12]).

Of the 19 education systems reporting this to the OECD as a policy priority, several, including the French Community of Belgium, Chile, Greece, Latvia and New Zealand, did so between 2015 and 2019. Others, including the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain reported it as a persisting priority across the period 2008-19. Education systems have undertaken several policy efforts to address this priority, such as the current work of the German-speaking Community of Belgium on a common policy for homework practice (2015), or France’s measures to tackle bullying and violence (2013).

Supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff

For some countries, the OECD’s specific country-based work has identified a need to support and improve the competencies of school support staff. This includes improving the recruitment, organisation and competencies of school support staff and ensuring that different staff profiles are coherent and complementary. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 8 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (8 education systems) by participating education systems (1 education system), or both (1 education system) (Figure 2.4).

Supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff was identified by the OECD as a priority in at least five education systems (the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, the Slovak Republic and Wales [United Kingdom]) across the period 2008-14, and as a priority in three more education systems (Estonia, Kazakhstan and Latvia) from 2015-19.

Relevant principles of action offered by the OECD in recommendations to these education systems include ensuring the recruitment and retention of high-quality school support staff through improved working conditions, setting incentives and easing entry possibilities. More specifically, this support can refer to offering better organisational guidance, such as setting out clear standards and qualifications or establishing a clear career structure.

In 2012, for example, the OECD recommended that Japan raise awareness of the importance of continuous training among early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff and employers (Taguma, Litjens and Makowiecki, 2012[13]). More recently, in 2017, the OECD recommended that Kazakhstan provide local academic and professional development opportunities for all core academic staff and academic leaders of higher education institutions (OECD, 2017[14]).

Estonia was the only education system to report this priority to the OECD, identifying it as a persisting priority for the period 2008-19.

Despite this, the OECD collected information on relevant policy efforts in several other education systems. Latvia’s Education Development Guidelines (2014-20) include activities for competence development relating to the organisation of the learning process and development of information and communication technology (ICT) skills among administrative, pedagogical and academic staff in vocational and higher education.

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Figure 2.4. Supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff
Figure 2.4. Supporting and improving the competencies of school support staff

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

Policy trends

The policy trends observed include a focus on general strategies for schools and learning conditions to support all students (Table 2.1). The general strategies have shown some stability over time. These policies were originally designed or have evolved to strengthen capacity at school levels, including for school staff and community engagement. A more recent topic identified is the digitalisation of schools, for which the majority of the policies collected were implemented from 2015.

Evidence of progress or impact for these policies was also collected for this report, when possible. The analysis on the cases analysed found that the effectiveness and efficiency of implementation depends greatly on factors such as: stakeholder involvement (including governments to schools and students); collaboration across the different levels (for example through peer learning); guidance and monitoring; adaptation to local needs; and increased financial support to schools.

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Table 2.1. Policies to improve education systems’ learning environments, 2008-19

Learning environments

General strategies for schools

Learning conditions to support all students

Digitalisation of schools

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Austria: School Entry and Primary School package (2016) (introduced new elements to the School Organisation Act, the School Education Act and the Compulsory Schooling Act)

Belgium (De.): Common policy for homework practice (2015)

Austria: New Master Plan for Digitalisation in Education (2018); Introduction of an innovation package (2017), as part of the digital education strategy “School 4.0 – Let’s get digital”

Belgium (Fr.): Pact for Excellence in Teaching (2015-30) [*]

Czech Republic: Decree No.27/2016 Coll., on the education of children, pupils and students with special educational needs

Canada (Saskatchewan): Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015) [*]

Denmark: New reform (2017), introduces a minimum grade requirement for entry to general upper secondary education

Greece: “Uniform” all-day model for primary schools (2016); expanded to include special education primary schools (2017)

France: Digital School Plan (2015); Digital Resource Bank for School (BRNE, 2016)

Finland: New Comprehensive School Programme (2015-19)

Mexico: Public and private schools can choose among two calendars (2016)

Spain: National Plan for Digital Education (2018)

Ireland: DEIS Plan (2017)

Mexico: National Certificates of Education Infrastructure for Schools (2015)

Kazakhstan: Updated State Compulsory Standard (2017); efforts to reform the pedagogical approach to be competency-based (2016)

Slovak Republic: Introduction of career counsellor with new measures (2019), based on Pedagogical and Specialised Employees Act reforms (2009, 2018)

Mexico: School at the Centre strategy (2016)

Slovak Republic: Special working group for the reduction of unnecessary administrative workload (2015)

Mexico: Technical Support Service to Schools (2017)

United Kingdom (England): Policy efforts to reduce teachers and school leaders’ workload (2016, 2018, 2019)

Portugal: National Programme for the Promotion of School Success (PNPSE, 2016-19)

United Kingdom (Wales): Pioneer Schools Network (2015)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Australia: Australian Education Act (2013), Quality Schools package (2017), enabling legislation Australian Education Amendment Bill (2017), New National School Reform Agreement (2019) [*]

Denmark: Reduce the influence of social background in relation to students’ academic achievements, as part of the Folkeskole reform (2014-20)

Denmark: Changes to Individual Mandatory Student Plans (2006) for children in kindergarten up to Grade 8 (2014-20) [*]

Denmark: Folkeskole reform by modifying aspects of compulsory education (2014-20)

Denmark: Measurement and improvement of students’ well-being initiative (2014), as part of the Folkeskole reform (2014-20)

Greece: Digital School Strategy (2013); updated (2016)

Estonia: Basic School and Upper Secondary School Act (2013); re-organisation of the school network (2004)

France: Revised school timetables for primary education (2013; revised 2014; revised 2017) [*]

Japan: OECD Tohoku School Project (2011); Innovative Schools Network 2030 Phase 1 (ISN 1.0) (2015)

France: Improving the overall school climate; tackling bullying and violence in school (2013)

Kazakhstan: National pilot to introduce resource centres to support small-class schools (2012)

Norway: Advisory Team Programme (2009), incorporated into the Follow-Up Scheme in 2017

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

General strategies for schools

Many education systems have implemented general strategies for schools to foster better learning environments. The goal is to strengthen capacity and improvement at school level and among school staff, as well as increase community engagement. This type of policy was collected for Australia, Austria, the French Community of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Norway, and the United Kingdom (Wales).

In Australia, school funding has been linked to education reform to improve education quality. As another example, the French Community of Belgium’s Pact for Excellence in Teaching (2015-30) is a far-reaching strategy that contains elements that relate to quality knowledge and skills, school principals and teacher development, student well-being and educational achievement. In the same way, Mexico’s School at the Centre strategy works to bring together different initiatives to improve the overall functioning of schools by strengthening autonomy and shared decision making.

Policy focus

  • In Australia, under the Australian Education Act 2013, school funding is linked to educational reform. States and territories have to enter into agreements with the government to receive funding.

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Progress or impact: Following up on the 2013 Students First and Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes, the Australian Government announced its Quality Schools package (2017) and introduced the enabling legislation, the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017. The bill was successfully passed by the Commonwealth Parliament mid-2017, amending the Australian Education Act (2013) to enable the government to deliver record levels of school recurrent funding from 2018 to 2027 (National information reported to the OECD). All Australian governments developed a new National School Reform Agreement that came into effect in 2019. It is a joint commitment between the Commonwealth, states and territories to provide high-quality and equitable education for all students. It also includes a requirement for an annual public report from the Education Council to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) outlining progress towards implementation, with the first progress report due in late 2019. The National School Reform Agreement was informed by the findings and recommendations of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (Government of Australia, 2018[15]), the Independent Review of Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Government of Australia, 2019[16]) and the STEM Partnerships Forum (National information reported to the OECD).

  • In Belgium’s French Community, the Pact for Excellence in Teaching (Pacte pour un enseignement d’excellence, 2015-30) built on a participatory consultative process (2015 to mid-2016), including key stakeholders (teachers, educators, parents and students). It was also developed in consultation with the economic, social and cultural sectors. The five main goals are: 1) teach the knowledge and skills required for 21st-century society; 2) mobilise education stakeholders within a framework of school autonomy and accountability; 3) make the vocational pathway a stream of excellence; 4) promote inclusive education, and strengthen the fight against school failure, dropout and repetition; and 5) ensure the well-being of each child in a quality school, favouring a democratic school (OECD, 2017[17]).

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Progress or impact: In 2018, the government approved two decrees to support the implementation of the Pact for Excellence in Teaching (Ministère de la communauté française, 2018[18]; Ministère de la communauté française, 2018[19]). The Steering of Schools Decree aims to improve the system’s governance from the school level, and a second decree regulates that each school enters into a contract with the Central Authority to assess the development of the implementation of the Steering Decree (délégués au contrat d’objectifs) (see Governance in Snapshot). Support was provided as well for the implementation of the pact through the allocation of 1 100 staff reinforcements in pre-primary education during 2017-19, granting of administrative or educational assistance for the school leaders of pre-primary and primary education, or additional support for specialised education. (See Chapter 8 for additional information)

Improving learning conditions in schools to support all students

In the same way, some policies reported for this publication aim to improve learning conditions in schools to support all students, which can be in terms of learning time, administrative work or physical infrastructure.

For example, the German-speaking Community of Belgium implemented a policy on homework to improve student well-being and provide greater equity of learning opportunities for students. France and Mexico have undertaken policies to modify learning time in schools. In France, the reallocation of time also aims to promote students’ participation in extracurricular activities. Furthermore, Mexico has been working to improve the quality of school infrastructure, while the Slovak Republic has undertaken important efforts to reduce red tape in schools. Also, the United Kingdom (England) has taken policy efforts to reduce teachers’ and school leaders’ workload.

Policy focus

  • France revised the school timetables in primary education (La réforme des rythmes à l’école primaire, 2013) at the start of the 2013/14 school year. The government extended the weekly schedule from 4 to 4.5 days with 24 hours of teaching per school week over 9 half-days. France aims to cater for extracurricular education activities and provide more personalised support for students. As a result, the number of days of schooling in primary education has risen from 144 to 180 days per year, according to national data reported to the OECD. One in four primary schools implemented the new schedule during 2013/14. The reform took effect across all schools in 2014/15.

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Progress or impact: The municipal support fund for extracurricular school activities was set up in 2014, and followed up in 2015 and 2017 with a total allocation of EUR 373 million. In 2014, a complementary decree passed, which authorises school principals a certain authority to adopt the reform to local needs in an experimental period (National information provided to the OECD).

A 2015 inspection of the reform found that school time organisation varied considerably among the different municipalities (DEPP, 2013[20]). A 2017 evaluation assessing the students’, practitioners’ and families’ point of view on the different types of organisation found no significant difference between the different school time organisations put in place (DEPP, 2013[20]). As of 2017/18, public nursery and primary schools can also introduce a 4-day week school schedule instead of the 4.5 days (Blanquer, 2017[21]). This aims to allow a certain degree of flexibility for local actors to adopt the school schedules to their local contexts and better meet student needs (Blanquer, 2017[21]).

A new teacher replacement plan (2017) was put in place to better manage teacher absence and better inform students and their families, and thereby ensure learning continuity. Furthermore, a decree will be implemented to define the legal framework of the first degree with an emphasis on de-compartmentalising and improving the replacement system (National information reported to the OECD).

Digitalisation of schools

Policy efforts related to digitalisation refer to access, processes and capacities. Some education systems reported having implemented recent and continued policies to provide Internet access to schools (this was the case for Austria, Greece and Spain) or the digitalisation of student plans (Denmark, also discussed in Chapter 3). Education systems have also been working to help build digital capacity, according to evidence collected for Canada (Saskatchewan), France and Spain. France, Greece and Spain have focused on improving technical resources and skills, such as by providing tablets, updating education plans with courses on programming, setting up online platforms, or providing professional development opportunities to teachers. But technological capacity can also relate to the strengthening of emotional skills to improve the responsible use of digital devices. Canada (Saskatchewan) has established programmes to help students better navigate the digital world (2015).

Policy focus

  • In the province of Saskatchewan (Canada), the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015) is a policy guide. It is designed for school division officials to work with school administrators and teachers to help students build an understanding of safe and appropriate online behaviour. The guide was developed in response to one of the recommendations in the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying (2013) (Government of Saskatchewan, 2019[22]).

  • Denmark has made changes to the Individual Mandatory Student Plans (Elevplaner i folkeskolen, 2006) for children in pre-school up to Grade 8 (Ministry of Education, 2018[23]). These changes are meant to respond to the requirements in the Folkeskole Act (2014) of making student plans accessible to students and parents through a digital format. A platform of the student plan helps collect information on progress, goals and student assessments, among others. First, this platform should contain the specific goals for the individual student’s learning, with the starting point being common objectives. Second, a status section should show student progress in relation to the goals. Third, a monitoring section should describe how and when to follow up on the goals. Both the student and the teacher must monitor progress on the goals, and the parents can be involved in this process. The plans are mandatory in all subjects in all years (Ministry of Education, 2018[23]).

copy the linklink copied!High-quality teachers

High-quality teachers are an essential part of well-functioning education systems and are critical to the success of students in school and later in life. A high-quality teacher workforce is thus a necessity to ensure that students obtain the skills they need in the 21st-century. Education policies need to emphasise improving the way systems attract, develop and retain high-quality teachers at schools (OECD, 2015[2]). To do so, specific policy measures can target recruitment, selection and induction processes; salary and working conditions; initial teacher education and professional development opportunities; career paths available to teachers; feedback and assessment; or collaborative working (OECD, 2018[24]).

Initial teacher education is the first step in ensuring that teachers obtain the skills needed to support student learning. A coherent and comprehensive initial teacher education curriculum covers both content and pedagogical knowledge which is most relevant to 21st century classrooms, and develops practical skills linked to theoretical knowledge (OECD, 2019[25]). According to teachers’ reports in TALIS 2018, across OECD countries, teachers’ initial teacher education most commonly covers subject content, general or subject pedagogy and classroom practice: on average, around 90% of teachers reported having received instruction for each of these components. Conversely, only around one-third of trainee teachers across OECD countries received formal preparation for teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting, and just over half for using ICT to enhance teaching.

However, TALIS 2018 results also show that, for each component of initial teacher education programmes included in the survey, systematically a larger share of teachers reported receiving the training than those that felt “well prepared” or “very well prepared” in relation to them. While the average discrepancy was 16 percentage points, the largest were in the areas of general pedagogy (22 percentage points) and student behaviour and classroom management (19 percentage points) (Figure 2.5) (OECD, 2019[7]).

Following initial teacher education, teachers ideally undergo an induction process once they enter the profession that helps them transition from theoretical to practical teaching in the classroom. Through providing a variety of dedicated support, effective induction programmes are key to helping teachers navigate challenges once in the profession, and can bring long-lasting benefits. Empirical evidence shows that induction has a positive impact on teacher quality and student learning, supports teacher commitment and retention and can stimulate virtuous cycles for innovation and continuous professional development (OECD, 2019[7]) (OECD, 2019[26]). However, in TALIS 2018, over two-thirds of lower secondary teachers reported having had no access to either formal or informal induction activities during their first employment (Figure 2.6). Furthermore, evidence suggests that teachers are increasingly less likely to have access to any form of induction in their first teaching role: on average, fewer recently qualified teachers reported having received induction than their more experienced counterparts, by a difference of 5 percentage points (OECD, 2019[7]).

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Figure 2.5. The content of initial teacher preparation and teachers’ feelings of preparedness, 2018
Figure 2.5. The content of initial teacher preparation and teachers’ feelings of preparedness, 2018

Note: According to the reports of lower secondary education teachers.

Source: OECD (2019[10])TALIS 2018 Database, Tables 1.4.13 and 1.4.20, https://www.oecd.org/education/talis/talis-2018-data.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997284

Once in the profession, teachers need to update their skills throughout their careers. The importance of continuous professional development (CPD) grows as education changes and, increasingly, students have to be prepared for an ever-changing world. Effective CPD programmes can have an impact on teachers’ skills, attitudes and beliefs, as well as their classroom practices. Furthermore, CPD helps to foster professional collaboration and prevent burnout. CPD offers that are well-matched to teacher and student need can also have a positive effect on student learning outcomes (OECD, 2019[7]). TALIS 2018 results show that 94% of teachers undertook at least one professional development activity in the 12 months prior to the survey, an increase of 6 percentage points on 2013 (Figure 2.6). The most frequently cited barriers to participation in CPD were conflicts with teacher’s work schedule (54%), lack of incentives for participating in professional development (47%) and cost (45%) (OECD, 2019[7]).

There is growing support within the academic literature for professional development that adopts school-embedded approaches or promotes participation in professional networking. These types of CPD may both be more effective in supporting teachers to incorporate learning into classroom practice and more efficient by capitalising on in-house expertise (OECD, 2019[7]). However, among teachers across the OECD, the most frequent types of CPD activities reported in TALIS 2018 followed more traditional formats, such as attending courses/seminars (76%), reading professional literature (72%) and attending education conferences (49%). Nevertheless, teachers regard their CPD experiences positively: on average, 82% of teachers report a positive impact on their teaching practices (OECD, 2019[7]). In the previous cycle of TALIS, results suggested that teacher participation in high-quality professional development was systematically associated with a more intense use of some of the classroom practices that are key to student learning such as feedback and small group work

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Figure 2.6. Formal and informal induction programmes or activities, and teachers’ participation in professional development, 2018
Figure 2.6. Formal and informal induction programmes or activities, and teachers’ participation in professional development, 2018

Note: Percentage of lower secondary education teachers whose school principal reports the existence of formal and informal inductions; participation rates and reported personal financial cost of professional development activities undertaken by lower secondary education teachers in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Source: OECD (2019[10])TALIS 2018 Database, Tables 1.4.38, 1.5.1 and 1.5.15,

https://www.oecd.org/education/talis/talis-2018-data.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997303

Policy priorities

Attracting and retaining teachers

According to both the OECD and education systems, attracting and retaining teachers is a policy priority shared by many systems. This reflects a need to recruit an adequate supply of talented teachers but also to create the conditions that ensure teachers feel satisfied and engaged across the full career. For some education systems, this applies to the teaching force as a whole; for others, including Finland and Japan, it may concern specific education levels or sectors, such as early childhood education and care (ECEC) and vocational education and training (VET). Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in at least 23 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (17 education systems), by participating education systems (14 education systems), or both (8 education systems) (Figure 2.7).

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Figure 2.7. Attracting and retaining teachers
Figure 2.7. Attracting and retaining teachers

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

This policy priority was identified by the OECD for at least 11 education systems during 2015-19 (the Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities of Belgium, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and the United Kingdom [England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales]) and 6 more education systems in 2008-14 (Austria, Finland, Iceland, Japan, Mexico and the Slovak Republic).

Some of the principles of action included in OECD recommendations to these education systems refer to encouraging high-quality candidates to enter the teaching profession and retaining teachers in the profession through various measures. These include improving remuneration, selection, preparation and professional development, as well as providing career development opportunities. Another key aspect of facilitating the process is to collect data for longer-term planning.

In 2017, for example, the OECD recommended that the United Kingdom raise training and other incentives to recruit and retain teachers in disadvantaged areas and/or regions with high teacher shortages (OECD, 2017[27]). Previously, in 2015, the OECD recommended that Sweden make the teaching profession more attractive by increasing monetary incentives, offering clearer career paths, and improving teacher education (OECD, 2015[28]).

A slightly smaller number of education systems (14) reported this as a policy priority. Some countries such as Iceland and Ireland reported it as an emerging priority during 2015-19, while a greater number, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and the United Kingdom (England) reported this priority as having persisted since 2008.

Education systems have taken a wide variety of policy measures to increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession. For example, as of 2016, Sweden allocated extra funding under the Teacher Salary Boost initiative (Lärarlönelyftet) to increase teacher salaries.

Improving teacher qualifications, skills and training

The most common policy priority related to school improvement identified for this report was the need to improve teacher qualifications, skills and training. This highlights the dynamic nature of this area of education policy, as the various components of a teacher’s training and development require ongoing reflection in response to changing contexts. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 31 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (21 education systems), by participating education systems (18 education systems), or both (8 education systems) (Figure 2.8).

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Figure 2.8. Improving teacher qualifications, skills and training
Figure 2.8. Improving teacher qualifications, skills and training

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

This policy priority was identified by the OECD through specific-country based work for at least eight education systems during 2015-19 (Flemish Community of Belgium, Colombia, Estonia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom [Scotland]), and seven more education systems during 2008-14 (Finland, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom [England, Northern Ireland and Wales]). The OECD identified this as a priority for Chile, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and Sweden, both before and after 2014.

In general terms, three principles of action can be drawn from the relevant OECD recommendations made to education systems, although these may apply to different extents, depending on the education systems (and not all of them may have been necessarily identified concurrently across them):

  • Establishing clearly defined standards on what teachers need to know at each education level and for each specific subject. More specifically, this implies ensuring that standards are aligned, reviewed continuously, remain relevant and are embedded in teachers’ everyday work.

  • Improving initial teacher preparation through revisions and better provision of education programmes and institutions, as well as introducing probationary periods.

  • Providing up-to-date and relevant professional development that allows teachers to learn new skills, and is embedded in overall teacher evaluation, career progression and development structures. It also implies ensuring that teachers have time to participate in relevant activities. Another key aspect is developing specific skills, such as assessment capacities, digital and leadership skills and peer learning.

In 2018, for example, the OECD recommended that Chile introduce a formal probationary process for new teachers as part of the new career structure (Santiago et al., 2017[29]). In the same year, in terms of teachers’ professional development, the OECD recommended that Germany improve teachers’ digital teaching skills, while acknowledging policy efforts already underway in Germany (such as comprehensive measures to digitally train teachers in vocational schools as well as further education instructors) (OECD, 2018[30]).

The improvement of teacher qualifications, skills and training was the policy priority reported by the largest number of participating education systems. Overall, this has been a significant ongoing area for improvement, both from the perspective of the OECD and participating education systems. Improving teacher qualifications skills and training was reported as a policy persisting across the period 2008-19 by several education systems including Australia, the French Community of Belgium, Greece and Spain. At the same time, many other education systems, such as Chile and Norway, reported it as an emerging priority during 2015-19.

Education systems have implemented various approaches to improve teacher education and competencies. Spain has been working on improving teachers’ digital skills through the Common Digital Competence Framework for Teachers (2014). In 2016, Finland implemented the Teacher Education Development Programme (TEDP, 2016) to strengthen teacher education and professional development. In 2017, Kazakhstan’s government revised teacher professional standards, which aim to help the government better support and improve teachers’ working conditions and qualification processes (see also Chapter 7).

Improving teachers’ working conditions

Another common policy priority in the area of school improvement relates to improving teachers’ working conditions. Working conditions in schools may include, but are not limited to, working hours, health and safety in the workplace, working relationships and the operation of the labour market. As explained in Chapter 7 of this report, it is one of the areas where external actors (i.e. trade unions) have identified enhanced collaboration with governments. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 12 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (8 education systems), by participating education systems (8 education systems), or both (4 education systems) (Figure 2.9).

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Figure 2.9. Improving teachers’ working conditions
Figure 2.9. Improving teachers’ working conditions

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this policy priority in work with at least five education systems during 2008-14 (Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Mexico and the Slovak Republic), and three more education systems during 2015-19 (the Flemish Community of Belgium, Greece and Kazakhstan).

OECD recommendations provided to these education systems identified various common principles of action. One of them is to review teachers’ workload, teaching hours or the provision of support in the implementation of policy reforms regarding areas such as curriculum and assessment. Another principle of action that has received attention is improving the overall efficiency of the teachers’ labour market.

Measures may include allowing for more choice among teacher candidates and schools by, for example, reviewing initial appointment processes. Other approaches include allowing for better portability of statutory rights across school networks, more flexibility of recruitment regulations and more systematic dissemination of vacancies for teaching positions.

In 2012, for example, the OECD recommended that Hungary increase the ratio of actual teaching hours to total statutory working time, and then use the resulting gains in efficiency to reduce the number of teachers or increase the relatively low salaries of teachers, or a combination of both (OECD, 2012[31]). Previously, in 2010, the OECD had recommended that Mexico open up all teacher posts for competition in order to achieve a better match between schools and teachers (OECD, 2010[32]). Following recommendations by the OECD, Kazakhstan has been raising teacher’s salaries while reforming payment structures for teachers.

According to reports to the OECD, this policy priority has persisted since 2008 for six education systems: the Flemish and German-speaking Communities of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece and Latvia. Two education systems, Germany and Kazakhstan, reported this priority more recently between 2015 and 19. Policy efforts related to this priority include, for example, a new teacher remuneration scheme introduced in 2016 in Latvia as part of a new funding model that aims to recognise the additional workload of teachers outside of instruction hours (also discussed in Chapter 5).

Policy trends

The policies collected refer to professional frameworks and career pathways, recruitment and registration, incentives and stimuli, initial teacher education, induction processes and professional development (Table 2.2 and Chapter 8). The largest number of continued policies was collected in the area of professional development, and the second largest number was on quality assurance for initial teacher education programmes, including guidelines and criteria. The policy area of teacher appraisal, previously discussed under teachers, is discussed in Chapter 3 of this report.

The majority of the more recent policies (implemented as early as 2015) focus on continuous professional development of teachers throughout their career, showing that education systems put increasing emphasis on this policy area. At the same time, education systems reported continued and recent policies on standards or professional frameworks, as well as criteria and legal acts on the requirements, obligations and rights of teachers to improve the quality of the profession.

In addition, education systems have continued putting in place policies to attract and recruit students to the teaching profession, as well as providing incentives and stimuli. This may include teacher well-being matters that go beyond monetary compensation to make the profession more attractive. At the same time, education systems reported a lower number of recent and continued policies on teacher induction. The majority of the policies collected address teachers in general primary to secondary education, with only a few policies reported specifically for ECEC and VET teachers, or teachers in higher education.

To track policy development, this report also collected information on progress or impact of policies when possible. The analysis underscores the importance of involving teachers in the implementation of policies. Positive developments could be identified for policies that included general support, mentorship and training that improved teaching practices. This was the case, for example, for Ireland’s Droichead policy (2013) where evidence collected among the different stakeholders identified a high level of satisfaction with the effectiveness of the programme’s structured approach to mentoring, professional support and performance assessment, as well as the programme’s impact on creating a collaborative culture in schools and among staff (ESRI, 2016[33]).

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Table 2.2. Policies to develop high-quality teachers, 2008-19

High-quality teachers

Professional frameworks and career pathways

Recruitment and registration

Incentives and stimuli

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Belgium (Fr.): Reform of titles and functions for teaching (2016)

Belgium (Fl.): Reform on alternative pathways to the teaching profession (2018)

Belgium (Fl.): Simplified transition process from temporary to permanent appointment and improved salary conditions (2018)

France: Law “For a school of trust” (2019)

Belgium (Fl.): Test to evaluate the competencies of prospective teaching students (2015)

Slovak Republic: Increase tariff salaries of teachers (2018)

Ireland: DEIS Plan (2017)

Iceland: Reform of teacher education and professional certification (2019)

Sweden: Teacher Salary Boost initiative (2016)

Ireland: Professional development framework for teachers (2016-20)

Ireland: Teacher Supply Action Plan (2018)

Kazakhstan: Professional standards for teachers developed by Atemeken (2017)

Slovak Republic: Scholarship programme for student teachers in certain subjects (2017)

New Zealand: Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession (2017) (replaced the Code of Ethics (2004))

Slovak Republic: Introduction of a measure to prevent teachers’ dismissal during summer (2015)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Australia: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (2013)

Australia: Teach for Australia (2009) [*]

Estonia: Increasing teachers’ salaries, as part of the Lifelong Learning Strategy 2014-20 [*]

Australia: Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework (2013)

Belgium (De.): Baremen reform for the increase in teachers’ starting salaries (2009)

Mexico: Incentives Programme for Teacher Quality (2008-09)

Australia: New Legislation on the Employment of Teachers (2013)

Chile: Teacher Vocation Programme (2012)

Slovak Republic: Increasing teachers’ salaries (2011; 2013)

Austria: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2010)

Hungary: Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Centre (KLIK, 2013); renamed Klebelsberg Centre (KK, 2016): Klebelsberg Scholarship Programme (2013)

Sweden: Career development reform (2013)

Belgium (Fr.): Removal of early teacher retirement (2011)

France: Masterisation reform (2010); Reform of Teacher Training (2013)

Belgium (De.): Harmonising various forms of teaching ability (2010)

Germany: Rules and proceedings for more mobility and quality for teachers (2013) [*]

Chile: Good Teaching Framework (2003, revision in 2016) [*]

Germany: Efforts to meet the demand for teachers (from 2009)

Estonia: Career structure for general education and vocational education teachers (2014)

Iceland: Act on the recruitment of teachers and head teachers in pre-school, compulsory school and upper secondary school (2008)

Hungary: System of teacher career management and salary scale (2013)

Mexico: Teacher Professional Service (2013); replaced by National System for the Career of Female and Male Teachers in 2019

New Zealand: Communities of Learning (Kāhui Ako, 2014)

Initial education

Induction processes

Professional development

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Austria: New Teacher Education Scheme (2015/16)

Austria: Compulsory one-year induction for new teachers (2019/20)

Denmark: Training for upper secondary teachers (2017)

Belgium (Fl.): Measures on initial teacher education (since 2015) [*]

Belgium (Fl.): Compulsory induction period (2018)

Finland: Teacher tutors programme (2016)

Norway: Changes to Initial Teacher Education (2017) through the reform of National Guidelines for Differentiated Primary and Lower Secondary Teacher Education Programme for Yrs 1-7 and 5-10 (2010; 2013)

Belgium (Fr.): Compulsory welcome and support programme (2016)

Greece: National Centre for Teacher Training (EKEPE, 2019)

Sweden: Teaching practice in specialised training schools (2014)

Greece: In-Service Education and Training of Teachers (2016)

United Kingdom (Wales): New Initial Teacher Education accreditation criteria (2018)

Japan: National Institute for School Teachers and Staff Development (2018), previously National Centre for Teachers’ Development (2015)

Korea: Leave of Absence for Self-training System (2016)

Korea: Teacher Education Emotion centres

Mexico: National Strategy for Continuous Training of Teachers of basic and upper secondary education (2016)

Sweden: Boost for Reading (2015)

United Kingdom (N. Ireland): Learning Leaders (2016)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Australia: Review of the Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programmes (2014)

Canada (Ontario): New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP, 2006, with new requirements since 2009) [*]

Australia: Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders (2013)

France: Reform of teacher education (2013)

Germany: Common requirements of the Länder for preparatory service and concluding state examination in teacher training (2012)

Czech Republic: Project Metodika (2006-12)

Hungary: Decree on the Teacher Education System (2012)

Iceland: Introduction of fifth-year induction programme (2008)

Finland: Teacher Education Development Programme (2016)

Ireland: Reconfiguration of initial teacher education programmes (2012)

Ireland: Procedures for Induction and Procedures and Criteria for Probation (2013-14)

Iceland: Council of Continuous Professional Development of Teachers (2013); renewed (2016)

Ireland: Initial Teacher Education Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers (2011) from Teaching Council; revised requirements in 2017

Korea: Master Teacher Initiative (2011)

Kazakhstan: Professional development courses for teachers at the Orleu National Centre for Professional Development (2011)

Italy: Initial education by Italian Ministry of Education (2013), with changes to initial teacher education through Good School Reform (2015)

Latvia: Improving Teachers’ Professional Competence as part of the Education Development Guidelines (2014-20) [*]

Portugal: Reinforcing the scientific curricula in Teachers’ Education Programmes (2014)

Portugal: Teachers’ lifelong training framework (2014); Decrees on the role of School Association Training Centres (2014-15)

Sweden: Teacher education programmes as four main degrees (2011)

Spain: Digital Competence Framework for Teachers (2014)

United Kingdom (Wales): Entry requirements for Initial Teacher Education (2014)

Sweden: Matematiklyftet programme (2012) [*]

Sweden: Boost for Teachers programme (2007-11; 2012-18)

Turkey: Teaching, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Training Co-operation Protocol for Managers and Teachers in VET (2012)

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

Professional frameworks and career pathways

Several education systems reported having ongoing standards or professional frameworks in place. Examples of this type of policy were collected for Australia, the French and the German-speaking Communities of Belgium, Chile, Ireland, Kazakhstan and New Zealand. At the same time, Australia and Chile have standards in place that define what constitutes quality teaching, as well as required teacher capabilities. New Zealand reported a new code that defines standards of ethical behaviour and expectations of teaching practice.

Furthermore, the teaching profession requires clarity in terms of career evolution. In order to tackle this need, some education systems have put in place criteria and legal acts on the requirements, obligations and rights of teachers to improve the quality of the profession. Educations systems that reported such policies include Australia, Austria, Estonia, France and Hungary. Australia has a framework in place that aims to improve teaching through continuous assessment, feedback and performance appraisal, as well as by providing professional development opportunities to all teachers.

Policy focus

  • In Chile, the Good Teaching Framework (Marco para la Buena Enseñanza, MBE, 2003) outlines what teachers are expected to know and be able to do. It identifies four domains: 1) preparation for teaching; 2) creation of an environment favouring the learning process; 3) teaching that allows learning for all students; and 4) professional responsibilities. Within each domain, the MBE describes criteria and performance levels (outstanding, competent, basic or unsatisfactory). The framework also outlines four elements of teacher appraisal: portfolio, self-assessment guidelines, interview by a peer evaluator and a third-party reference report (OECD, 2017[34]).

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Progress or impact: The OECD has praised the Good Teaching Framework (MBE), reporting that it gives a clear and concise profile of what teachers are expected to know and be able to do, providing a sound frame of reference for teachers in Chile (OECD, 2017[34]; Santiago et al., 2017[29]). In 2016, a revision of the MBE with updates to criteria and performance levels reflecting the latest research on good teaching practice was released for public consultation. The process of approval for the revised MBE remains ongoing. The OECD commended efforts taken to review and refresh the MBE (OECD, 2017[34]; Santiago et al., 2017[29]).

In addition, the System for Teacher Professional Development (Sistema de Desarrollo Profesional Docente, Ley 20903, 2016), aims to bring together and build on the various initiatives developed and implemented over the previous ten years to present a more organised vision of improvement for the teaching profession. It also provides an overarching framework for development in this area up to 2026. It introduces mechanisms such as multi-stage career structure, an increase in the proportion of non-teaching hours and mandatory accreditation, among others (Santiago et al., 2017[29]). Immediately following the launch of the new system, the OECD praised the increased clarity and goal setting it offered. However, the OECD also suggested that Chile consider introducing a coherent set of professional standards to better delineate teachers’ roles and career progression as well as more rigorous and formative teacher evaluation procedures and relevant professional development. The OECD also highlighted the importance of actively involving stakeholders throughout the implementation process in order to build trust and a sense of ownership, particularly among teachers (OECD, 2017[34]).

Recruitment and registration

Several education systems have also put measures in place to attract and recruit students into the teaching profession. Chile has established ongoing financial support mechanisms, such as grant programmes, to attract high-performing students. The German-speaking Community of Belgium also implemented a measure to increase teachers’ starting salaries.

To respond to current or potential teacher shortages, some education systems have continued scholarship programmes for student teachers, as was the case in Hungary and the Slovak Republic, or set up guidelines, as in Germany. Similarly, Australia has a programme in place that fast-tracks high-performing graduates into disadvantaged secondary schools to address teacher shortages and develop effective school teachers. Ireland developed an action plan to increase the number of teacher graduates entering the profession. Recently, Sweden established an alternative fast track pathway into the teaching profession targeted at newly-arrived migrants, in order to facilitate entrance into the profession of people with previous teaching experience in other countries.

In order to select potential candidates to enter the profession, recent policies undertaken by Belgium (Flemish Community) include tests to evaluate potential students for initial teacher education. France introduced the obligation for teachers to obtain a master’s degree, to improve teacher preparation. Other education systems have put tests in place to assess students’ suitability to become teachers, such as in Germany, and have established minimum requirements, as in Iceland.

Policy focus

  • In Australia, the Teach for Australia (TFA, 2009) programme works to improve teacher quality and student outcomes in disadvantaged schools, address teacher shortages and develop effective school teachers. TFA recruits high-performing graduates (called associates) and fast tracks them into disadvantaged secondary schools. On completion of the programme, associates receive a Master of Teaching qualification. During the programme, associates receive support from teaching advisors and mentors who are expected to provide frequent classroom observation and feedback.

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Progress or impact: Between 2009 and 2018, the Teach for Australia programme expanded from one jurisdiction (Victoria) to five jurisdictions (the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania) at its peak. The programme has also steadily increased the number of associates placed in schools (125 in 2018). In 2016, the government committed an additional AUD 20.5 million to finance the placement of up to 315 associates, as part of cohorts nine and ten, in secondary schools from 2018 to 2021 (Government of Australia, 2016[35]). Two independent evaluations of the TFA programme indicate that it produces high-quality teachers and has a positive impact on participating schools (Government of Australia, 2016[35]). The most recent 2017 report found that the programme attracts top talent and associates provide skills that schools need, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Overall, improvements should be made to further align the programme to the government’s objectives. An example on how this has so far been addressed is, in 2018, the government announced that for 2020 and 2021 employment-based pathways into teaching would be funded through an open and competitive tender process known as the High Achieving Teachers Program.

  • In 2012, Germany’s Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted common requirements of the Länder for the preparatory service (the practical placement at schools, Referendariat) and the concluding state examination in teacher training (Ländergemeinsame Anforderungen für die Ausgestaltung des Vorbereitungsdienstes und die abschließende Staatsprüfung). The resolution took into account recent developments in the school sector and further enhanced comparability and mobility in the education system. Furthermore, in 2013, the regulations and procedures to increase the mobility and quality of teachers (Regelungen und Verfahren zur Erhöhung der Mobilität und Qualität von Lehrkräften) passed.

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Progress or impact: The 2017 report of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs found that all Länder guaranteed mobility according to the 2013 implemented regulations and procedures (KMK, 2018[36]). The 2018 report put forward that, nevertheless, the school and training structures differ between the Länder. Hence, several alleged mobility barriers can be explained by state-specific organisational frameworks, such as a combination of school subjects and subject-specific offers. In such cases, restrictions of mobility in access to preparatory service are no violation of the regulations and procedures. The same accounts for access to school service after completion of demand-oriented special measures. The KMK recommended to the Länder and universities, among others, to support the mobility of students during their teaching-oriented studies with the consistent implementation of the Lisbon Convention (KMK, 2018[36]). In addition, the Länder have passed common decisions on preparing teachers for increasingly diverse classrooms, including courses to teach German as a second language, and support high-achieving students during the initial preparation as well as providing professional development opportunities (KMK, 2019[37]; KMK, 2019[38]).

Incentives and stimuli

Improving monetary compensation is one mechanism employed to increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession and retain teachers.

Belgium (Flemish Community), Estonia, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Sweden have put in place policies to improve monetary compensation for teachers. Estonia has taken measures to ensure that teachers’ salary levels correspond to their qualifications. In addition, the Slovak Republic reported recent and continued policy measures on increasing teachers’ salaries and preventing the termination of teaching contracts over the summer break. Sweden introduced a recent policy, which allows principals and employers to decide on the distribution of additional funding to specific teachers while undertaking broad efforts to design more adequate salary progression schemes.

Policy focus

  • In Estonia, one of the goals of the Lifelong Learning Strategy 2014-20 is to increase teachers’ salaries to 120% of the average national salary by 2020 (from 95% in 2011 and 107% in 2015) (European Commission, 2017[39]). Another goal is to raise the percentage of teachers under the age of 30 to 12.5% by 2020. A further goal is to assess teachers and school principals and to ensure that their salaries are consistent with the qualifications required for the job and work-related performance.

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Progress or impact: As of 2017, the minimum school teacher monthly salary was set to be raised to EUR 1 050 and the average teacher monthly salary to EUR 1 300. The average salary was at EUR 1 201, however, in 2017 (Statistics Estonia, 2018[40]).

In 2019, the minimum monthly salary is set to be raised to EUR 1 250. The state provided additional funding to increase pre-primary school teacher salaries to at least 80% of the minimum salary in general education by September 2017 as well as an additional increase of 85% in 2018 and 90% in 2019 (European Commission, 2017[39]) .

Initial teacher education

Several education systems have established policies over the past decade that aim to provide overall guidelines and criteria for initial teacher education programmes, in order to ensure their quality.

Examples of these policies were collected for Australia, Austria, the Flemish Community of Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Wales). For example, the Flemish Community of Belgium has implemented several measures, from broadening the path to becoming a teacher to improving the quality of initial teacher training. France has undertaken a number of efforts in initial teacher education further to its relatively recent requirement (2010) for teachers to have a master’s degree qualification as well as its strengthening initial education through the new law “For a school of trust”.

Policy focus

  • In Belgium, the government of the Flemish Community has introduced several changes to initial teacher education (ITE) in recent years. In 2018, the Flemish Parliament adopted a decree broadening the path to becoming a teacher, reinforcing the profile of prospective teachers, streamlining training and increasing the quality of ITE (National information reported to the OECD). ITE programmes are now exclusively offered by universities, as well as some university colleges, and feature improved content on didactics, classroom management, multilingualism and diversity. From the 2019/20 academic year, prospective teachers can enter one of six ITE programmes: a short-cycle course for teaching in secondary education, three Bachelor’s courses for pre-primary, primary and secondary education and two Master’s courses in art subjects and secondary education. As such, prospective teachers can now enrol in an ITE programme at any stage of tertiary education, including, for the first time, directly after upper secondary completion. The reform has also eased students’ transfer to ITE from other tertiary courses, as well as facilitated mature student pathways into ITE and the transition into teaching for those with three or more years’ experience in an alternative profession (Flemish Parliament, 2018[41]). In the 2018/19 academic year, the government introduced a compulsory non-binding, institution-neutral admission test for ITE. This assesses a prospective teacher’s preparedness for studies and identifies any possible need for remedial support. Ultimately, this aims to increase completion rates and improve the quality of ITE graduates (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: A 2013 evaluation of initial teacher education in Flanders first inspired these reforms. Following the evaluation, the Flemish government adopted a concept note, in 2016, containing a set of proposed measures to enhance teacher education and improve the profile of new entrants to the profession. While awaiting legislative approval, the government piloted some measures and established several working groups. For example, it first piloted the test to evaluate the competencies of prospective student teachers in 2015/16, and then expanded the pilot in 2016/17 (OECD, 2017[17]). However, with a recent decline in ITE graduates and an older demographic profile of teachers, the Flemish Community faces growing recruitment needs in pre-primary and particularly secondary education. The Department of Education and Training predicts that, in general, teacher recruitment needs for the academic year 2023/24 will be 10% higher than 2014/15 (Department of Education and Training (Flanders), 2015[42])

Induction processes

Fewer policies were collected on supporting the career entry of newly trained teachers. Canada (Ontario), Germany and Ireland have continued to put teacher induction programmes and guidelines in place. Austria, the Flemish and French Communities of Belgium and Iceland have undertaken this type of effort more recently. For example, Canada (Ontario) reported a continued policy on improving learning environments through mentorship for educational staff. Other support mechanisms include mentoring by school staff for new teachers, as in Korea.

Policy focus

  • In Canada’s province of Ontario, the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP, 2006) aims to support the growth and professional learning of new teachers. It builds upon the first step of initial teacher education and is the second step of on-the-job learning along a continuum of learning and growth for new teachers. The NTIP consists of the following induction elements: 1) orientation for all new teachers with information about the Ontario curriculum and context, and their specific school; 2) professional development and training in areas such as literacy and numeracy strategies and classroom strategies; and 3) mentoring for new teachers by experienced teachers (Government of Ontario, 2018[43]; Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2010[44]). In addition to the NTIP induction process, new permanent teachers are evaluated twice within their first 12 months of employment through the Teacher Performance Appraisal process. Upon completion of two satisfactory evaluations, a notation reflecting completion of NTIP is placed on the teacher’s certificate of qualification and registration that appears on Ontario College of Teachers’ public register.

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Progress or impact: Since 2009, the New Teacher Induction Program provides support for first-year, long-term occasional (LTO) teachers with assignments of 97 days or longer. In 2018, the scope of NTIP was expanded to enable school boards to support any teacher in their first 5 years of practice. The inclusion of these teachers in any of the NTIP induction elements is designed to provide boards with flexibility to respond to local hiring realities and potentially to support new teachers for a greater length of time. Boards may decide to include an entire category of NTIP eligible teachers or base the supports they offer on a case by case basis. Overall, each year, approximately 8 000 new hired teachers access NTIP supports. Including second-year teachers and mentors, the total number of teachers participating in NTIP exceeds 18 000 annually (National data provided to the OECD). The results of longitudinal research from 2012 to 2015 show that new teachers have made meaningful and sustained improvements in all four of the core goal areas of NTIP (confidence, efficacy, instructional practice and commitment to ongoing learning) (Christine Frank and Associates, 2018[45]).

Professional development

Several education systems have established policies over the past decade targeting teachers’ professional development. Within teacher policies, this was the topic with the highest number of education policies collected by the OECD. Indeed, with continually changing education needs across the globe, teacher education also needs to occur throughout teachers’ careers. Teachers must be the first lifelong learners. Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) have all undertaken related policies.

Several education systems, such as Portugal and Sweden, linked career progression to professional development. Portugal, for example, is aiming to do this while also raising the bar for prospective teachers entering the profession, reinforcing the scientific knowledge of teachers through curricular changes in initial teacher education and establishing a lifelong training framework for teachers.

Collaborative learning is also a prominent area being encouraged by some education systems, such as Japan, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Sweden. For example, Japan’s National Institute for School Teachers and Staff Development (previously known as National Centre for Teachers’ Development) aims to strengthen teachers’ and school leaders’ capacities, including in collaborative learning, while it conducts studies and surveys. In Latvia, the Education Development Guidelines include planned actions to enhance teachers’ professional competencies to raise the quality of learning processes. Furthermore, Sweden’s Boost programmes for teachers have largely focused on collaborative learning to promote improvements in mathematics, reading or science, for example.

Policy focus

  • In Latvia, the Education Development Guidelines (2014-20), which define the goals and sub-goals for Latvia’s education system, include planned actions to enhance teachers’ professional competencies in order to raise the quality of learning processes. Specific measures include: 1) developing teachers’ professional competence, particularly in teaching the new competency-based general education content and inclusive education; 2) improving the professional skills of vocational education teachers and apprenticeship leaders with a particular emphasis on co-operation with employers; 3) developing competence among administrative, pedagogical and academic staff in vocational and higher education to improve the organisation of learning processes and use of information and communication technology (ICT) as well as other areas; and 4) promoting international co-operation between teachers (MoES, 2013[46]).

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Progress or impact: The government began by developing a competency-based curriculum for initial teacher education (ITE) programmes and approving the conceptual framework for a new model of competency-based teacher education (European Commission, 2018[47]). It also plans to rationalise ITE provision to make it less fragmented. As part of a project supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), Latvia is developing new ITE programmes in six higher education institutions, and certain elements of some older ITE programmes will be discontinued. The project plans to have a total of 23 new ITE programmes in place by 2023 (European Commission, 2018[47]).

Also with the support of the ESF, the National Centre for Education has launched several professional development programmes to prepare teachers for the implementation of the new competency-based curriculum. The programmes target different audiences based on their roles in relation to the curriculum. Some 1 650 school leaders, teachers, general education and vocational education and training (VET) leadership teams had participated in the programmes by the end of 2018.

Latvia has also allocated extra funding to allow an additional 2 450 teachers to be trained, including 50 teachers who will be trained as future trainers. Free e-learning materials are also available; by the end of 2018, 444 pre-school educators had accessed them. Also, the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) has allocated additional funding to train regional consultants and professional development experts to support the implementation of competency frameworks (National information reported to the OECD).

  • Sweden has introduced pedagogical training initiatives structured as collaborative research-based learning. The “Boost” programmes, for teachers of mathematics, reading and science, were launched with a budget of EUR 28 million. The Matematiklyftet programme (2012), for example, is available to all mathematics teachers, tutors and school principals. Materials are produced in collaboration with over 20 Swedish universities and colleges and are published on line. Materials are organised according to year groups and school type, and all follow a four-part structure, supporting teachers to: 1) prepare independently, using the materials provided to them; 2) meet colleagues to discuss what they have read and collaboratively plan a lesson; 3) teach the lessons in their classrooms; and 4) reconvene to evaluate and discuss their experiences. Weekly discussion meetings focus on didactic questions and are moderated by mathematics tutors trained by national authorities. During the programme, teachers exchange learning materials, ideas and experiences and enter into professional dialogue. The programme fosters collaborative teaching and enhances teamwork. School principals are also involved (OECD, 2017[48]).

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Progress or impact: A final evaluation report (2016) from the Swedish National Agency for Education found that this collegial training model (Matematiklyftet) has had a positive impact. Over 35 000 teachers were found to have participated in the mathematics training, which corresponds to 75% of all mathematics teachers in compulsory and upper secondary education. The training is also available to tutors (1 668 had participated by 2016) and school principals (2 961 had also participated by 2015). Participants reported feeling more confident and secure in their classrooms, and their teaching was more varied and student-centred. In 2017, the total cost of the programme was estimated at EUR 56 million (European Commission, 2017[49]).

The evaluation did not take into account the impact of the programme on students’ learning outcomes, however (Skolverket, 2018[50]; European Commission, 2017[49]).

As of 2018, new mathematics modules are available on the Learning Portal, which aim to provide teachers, specialist teachers or specialist support teachers with tools to develop teaching for students with additional needs (Skolverket, 2018[50]). During 2018/19, supervisors can take part in a web-based supervisor training to acquire the skills to supervise participant teacher groups.

copy the linklink copied!School leaders

School leaders increasingly gain importance as education systems allocate more and more autonomy in decision making to individual schools. As this occurs, general challenges identified by the OECD for school leaders include the demanding and far-ranging activities of the profession itself, as well as the pressure to meet the needs of different stakeholders within the system, such as parents, the local community and the education system (OECD, 2014[51]). In order for school leaders to nurture overall school improvement, it is important, therefore, to take supportive measures, such as clarifying the role of effective school leaders, distributing this role, and ensuring school leadership development throughout a leader’s career (OECD, 2015[2]). In particular, effective leaders need to have the space to support teaching staff through instructional leadership in order to help all their students succeed in school, and to create a collaborative school environment in which teachers take part in school decisions (Schleicher, 2015[3]).

However, in many OECD countries, instructional leadership seems to play a less significant part in school leadership than administrative management. In TALIS 2018, school leaders were asked how they spend their time. Among the seven activities listed, one is closely related to supporting teaching in their school: “curriculum and teaching-related tasks and meetings” and has been identified as a key component of instructional leadership of school principals (OECD, 2016[52]). On average across the OECD, however, principals reported spending 16% of their working time on this type of activity. This makes it only the third most time-consuming task of principals, after administrative tasks and meetings (30% of principals’ working time) and leadership tasks and meetings (21%). Furthermore, nearly one-third of lower secondary principals reported that a shortage of time for instructional leadership hinders their school’s capacity to provide quality instruction. This was among the three largest hindrances according to school principals (OECD, 2019[7]).

Although on average across the OECD, similar shares of school leaders receive training related to instructional leadership and training related to school administration, prior to taking up their role, in most countries there are notable discrepancies between the two. For example, in Finland, Italy and Portugal, a larger share of school principals undertook formal training on administrative aspects, compared to school principals who undertook training related to instructional leadership. Conversely, in Colombia, Iceland and Japan a greater share undertook training on instructional leadership training compared to school principals who participated in training on administrative aspects. Furthermore, in the majority of countries, one-third of school principals or more appear to have received no training of either type before taking up the position (Figure 2.10)

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Figure 2.10. Lower secondary principals’ formal training before taking up their role as principal, 2018
Figure 2.10. Lower secondary principals’ formal training before taking up their role as principal, 2018

Note: Data refer to the sum of the percentages of school leaders trained “before taking up a position” and “before and after taking up a position” as principal.

Source: OECD (2019[10]), TALIS 2018 Database, Table I.4.28, https://www.oecd.org/education/talis/talis-2018-data.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997322

Nevertheless, TALIS 2018 evidence shows that professional development for principals is commonplace: nearly all (99%) school leaders had participated in some sort of professional development in the 12 months prior to the survey and, on average, they had participated in 5.8 different activities during that time. Among lower secondary school principals, the highest reported needs for professional development related to developing collaboration among teachers, using data to improve the quality of the school and financial management, all of which were reported by around one-quarter of respondents.

Policy priorities

Raising the attractiveness of the school leader position

An important area of concern for policy makers related to school leaders relates to raising the attractiveness of the school leader position. This includes improving the status and working conditions of school leaders to attract high-quality talent. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 6 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (4 education systems) or by participating education systems (2 education systems) (Figure 2.11).

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Figure 2.11. Raising the attractiveness of the school leader position
Figure 2.11. Raising the attractiveness of the school leader position

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

The OECD identified this policy priority in at least four education systems during 2015-19 (Chile, Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Sweden); it was not identified by the OECD as a policy priority for any specific education system in the period 2008-14.

Relevant principles of action that the OECD identified in its recommendations to these education systems include improving career advancement for school leaders, reviewing remuneration, providing further professional development and addressing the distribution of management tasks. This includes, for example, developing a career structure for school leaders that is distinct from the one for teachers, by linking career progression to specific leadership responsibilities outlined in professional standards, for example. Also important is the introduction of an independent salary scale and feeding appraisal results into career advancement. High-quality professional development should be provided as well, tailored to the school leader’s needs. In addition, an important area of policy action is to ensure that school management tasks are well distributed, bearing in mind school leaders’ often very demanding time schedules.

In 2016, the OECD recommended that Estonia take measures to introduce a distinct career structure for school leaders (Santiago et al., 2016[53]). Likewise, in 2015, the OECD recommended that the Slovak Republic raise the attractiveness of the profession through measures such as introducing a distinct career structure for school leadership, an independent salary scale for school leadership, greater flexibility in teaching hour requirements and leveraging appraisal processes to inform career advancement (Santiago et al., 2016[54]).

Both the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (England) reported raising the attractiveness of the school leader position as a policy priority persisting across the period 2008-19. The Czech Republic has taken policy measures to improve the job security of school leaders (2012). It has also been working to improve the working conditions for school leaders through the Amendment to Education Action Appointment, which modified the appointment and dismissal of school leaders and introduced a six-year appointment period (2012).

Improving school leaders’ qualifications

The most common policy priority related to school leaders concerns improving school leaders’ qualifications. This includes both appropriately defining the role of the school leader and support leaders to improve their qualifications and participate in professional development. Between 2008 and 2019, this policy priority was identified in a total of 14 education systems, either by the OECD in previous country-based work (10 education systems), by participating education systems (6 education systems), or both (2 education systems) (Figure 2.12).

The OECD identified this policy priority for at least four education systems during 2015-19 (Austria, Colombia, Greece and Kazakhstan), and three more education systems during 2008-14 (Finland, Mexico and United Kingdom [Wales]). In Chile, the Slovak Republic and Sweden, the OECD identified this priority both before and after 2014.

Relevant principles of action provided by the OECD to these education systems refer to the provision of professional development opportunities, especially to foster pedagogical leadership, evaluation and appraisal competencies. An additional principle of action is to establish clearly defined standards on high-quality school leadership to improve teaching and school quality and thereby improve student achievement.

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Figure 2.12. Improving school leaders’ qualifications
Figure 2.12. Improving school leaders’ qualifications

Notes:

1. Priority according to the OECD: See Annex A (OECD publications consulted) and Reader’s Guide (years covered).

2. Principles of action: Component of a recommendation that draws from international evidence produced on a specific topic, either by the OECD or externally.

3. Priority according to participating education system: Based on responses to EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, although responses for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden are based on the EPO Country Profiles published during 2017 and 2018. Responses given during the validation processes for all education systems in 2019 are also included (see the Reader’s Guide).

4. Comparing previous OECD analysis and country responses: Education systems highlighted in bold are those where the policy priority was identified by both the OECD and the education system.

For example, in 2016, the OECD recommended that Colombia introduce professional standards to shift school leaders’ focus from administration to improving teaching and learning processes in schools, including the set-up of distinct career structures and school leadership roles, reforming recruitment and appraisal processes (OECD, 2016[55]). Previously, in 2014, the OECD recommended that the Slovak Republic foster internal appraisal mechanisms to support professional development through, for example, disseminating resources and training for the direct evaluation of pedagogical practice, or stimulating peer learning among school leadership in different schools and supporting regional leadership programmes (Shewbridge et al., 2014[56]).

Improving school leaders’ qualifications was reported as a priority persisting across the period 2008-19 by five education systems: the French Community of Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Korea and Slovenia. Greece reported it as a priority more recently, between 2015 and 2019. In response to this policy priority, Chile has introduced an induction process for school leaders as part of the Principal Training Plan through the Quality and Equality of Education Law (2011). In addition, the Czech Republic worked on a policy to modernise the initial training of teachers and headmasters.

Policy trends

Besides increasing decentralisation and the transfer of autonomous decision making to schools, policies related to school leaders appear to remain less of a priority compared to other areas on school improvement, according to the results reported to the OECD. This was also the case for the 2015 OECD report, Education Policy Outlook: Making Reforms Happen. At the same time, there is some policy continuity with the majority of the policies introduced during 2008-14 still in place in participating education systems in 2019 (Table 2.3). The collected policies for this report continue to address policy areas covering professional frameworks and competency development.

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Table 2.3. Policies to support education systems’ school leaders, 2008-19

School leaders

Professional frameworks

Competence development

Recent (Implemented between 2015 and 2019)

Australia: Leading for Impact: Australian guidelines for school leadership development (2018)

Still in place (Implemented between 2008 and 2014)

Australia: Australian Professional Standard for Principals (2011)

Australia: Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders (2013)

Chile: Various reforms and initiatives to improve the quality of school leadership (since 2010) [*]

Canada (Nova Scotia): Instructional Leadership Academy Program (2010)

Czech Republic: Amendment to Education Action Appointment to modify the appointment and dismissal of school leaders and introduce a six-year appointment period (2012)

Ireland: Centre for School Leadership (2015)

Portugal: Reform of School Leadership (2008) [*]

Italy: Initial training provided by the Italian Ministry of Education (2013)

Spain: Under LOMCE, more decision-making capacities for school leaders (2013)

Portugal: Specialised mandatory training for school leaders (2012) [*]

Slovenia: Managing and Leading Innovative Learning Environments (2016-19); Headship Certificate Programme (2012, temporarily suspended); Headship Licence Programme (1996)

Slovenia: Middle-Leadership Programme (2014)

Sweden: Programme for Professional Development for School Leaders (2011-18)

Turkey: Teaching, Entrepreneurship and Leadership Training Co-operation Protocol for Managers and Teachers in Vocational and Technical Schools and Institutions (2012)

Notes:

1. All policies in this table are summarised in Chapter 8 of this report as selected education policies (with some evidence of progress or impact) or additional education policies of potential interest to other countries.

2. [*]: Policies included in the policy focus of this chapter.

3. See Annex B for information on policies reported previously for which no further details were available.

Source: EPO Surveys 2013 and 2016-17, EPO Country Profiles published for Austria, Belgium (Flemish, French and German-speaking Communities), Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain and Sweden (see the Reader’s Guide), further policies reported by education systems during validation processes undertaken in 2019, as well as desk-based research by the OECD Secretariat (2018-19).

More specifically, these policies were designed, or have evolved, to implement and define professional frameworks, as well as clarify criteria for appointment and dismissal. Education systems also reported continued policies to support career-entry training for school leaders that takes place once the school leader has taken up the position. At the same time, one education system reported a recent policy (2018) on guidelines for school leadership development.

Overall, the evidence collected on the progress or impact of policies on the development of school leaders is limited. Education systems that have undertaken policies in this area include Portugal’s Reform of School Leadership (2008) and Chile’s various reforms and initiatives to improve the quality of school leadership (since 2010). Aspects highlighted as important for greater success of these policy efforts include providing incentives for school leaders to participate in specialised training (as is the case in Portugal), but also continuing to work to ensure sufficient career differentiation between teachers and school leaders.

Professional frameworks

Australia, Portugal and Spain reported the priority of implementing professional frameworks that aim to clarify the roles of school leaders and define their responsibilities. The Czech Republic has worked to clarify the criteria for appointment and dismissal, while Chile has implemented a broader professional framework that encompasses school leader selection, salaries and professional development.

Policy focus

  • In Chile, various reforms and initiatives have been introduced to improve the quality of school leadership. In 2011, the Law for Quality and Equity in Education (Ley 20501: Calidad y Equidad de la Educación, 2011) introduced competitive and open selection processes for school directors in public establishments. It also introduced new responsibilities and powers for school leaders, including greater flexibility to remove teachers, higher salaries and more support for professional development in schools with a high concentration of priority students (MINEDUC, 2011[57]). The same year, MINEDUC launched the Principals’ Training Plan (Plan de Formación de Directores, 2010). This consisted of two phases: 1) strengthening training offers for school leaders through increasing flexibility in programme structures and improving quality assurance; and 2) offering scholarships to incentivise professionals to enrol in training programmes.

    In 2014, Chile’s commitment to improving school leadership was further established through the launch of the School Leadership Strengthening Policy (Política de la Fortalecimiento del Liderazgo Directivo Escolar, 2014). This aimed to strengthen leadership skills within the system in order to enhance the role of school leaders as agents of change. The policy had five lines of action: 1) definition of the role of the school leader; 2) improved selection processes; 3) capacity development; 4) establishment of school leadership centres; and 5) building an evidence base to support policy making (MINEDUC, 2018[58]).

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Progress or impact: From 2011-14, 2 969 acting and new school leaders received scholarships through the Principals’ Training Plan (MINEDUC, 2017[59]). However, an OECD review found that the plan had not been effectively applied to inform the teacher career structure, professional development plans, evaluation processes or salary scales (OECD, 2017[34]). Furthermore, the lack of a school leadership career path also meant that no related salary structure was in place, apart from the salary allowances introduced as part of the Law for Quality and Equity in Education for those working in schools with high socio-economic disadvantage, high numbers of students with disabilities and schools in rural areas.

The School Leadership Strengthening Policy hoped to address some of these issues. For example, MINEDUC launched the Good School Leadership and Management Framework (Marco de Buena Dirección y el Liderazgo Escolar, 2015) to better focus the work of school leaders and their professional development. Two national school leadership centres (Centro de Desarrollo de Líderes Educativos and Centro de Liderazgo para la Mejora Escolar, 2015) opened to improve the quality of training and support offered to school leaders. The centres have led several research and innovation projects in the area of school leadership and have built up an international profile (MINEDUC, 2018[58]). Chile’s Centre for Improvement, Experimentation and Pedagogical Research (Centro de Perfeccionamiento, Experimentación e Investigaciones Pedagógicas, CPEIP) launched an induction programme for school leaders in 2017.

The OECD recognised Chile’s work in the area of school leadership as a promising step in the development of the profession, but signalled a persistent challenge in the lack of sufficient career differentiation between teachers and school leaders, which most likely contributes to the continued low status of the profession (Santiago et al., 2017[29]).

Competency development

In comparison to the teaching profession, the majority of reported polices on school leadership aim to provide career-entry training once the school leaders have taken up their positions. For example, in Sweden, school leaders begin training once they start the job and another Swedish policy, aimed at developing specific competencies, targets school leaders who have been in the profession for at least a year. Other education systems provide initial education and professional development programmes throughout the career, targeting, for example, leadership skills (e.g. Italy, Portugal and Slovenia) or underscore the importance of professional development through a charter (e.g. Australia).

Policy focus

  • In Portugal, before 2008, pedagogical leadership within Portuguese schools was uncommon. The School Leadership Reform (Decree-Law 75/2008, 2008) created the position of school director (leader) (Santiago et al., 2012[60]). This reform modified selection processes and responsibilities for principals, from a primus inter pares system where teachers were elected to the positions by their peers and functioned mainly as administrators. Leaders thus became responsible for the pedagogical, cultural, administrative and financial management of the school or school cluster. School management now consists of four main bodies: the school leader; the General Council (with representatives of school staff, teachers, parents and local authorities), which is in charge of operational and strategic planning; the Pedagogical Council, which supervises and co-ordinates pedagogical activities; and the Administrative Council, which is responsible for administrative and financial matters. Specialised mandatory training for school leaders was reinforced through an amendment to the law (2012). Leaders are now appointed on a four-year basis by the school or school cluster’s General Council, composed of teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, secondary students and representatives from the municipality. Their performance is evaluated internally by the General Council, based on the successful accomplishment of the goals outlined in their proposed educational project (70%), as well as a qualitative assessment of their leadership, strategy and external communication skills (30%).

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Progress or impact: A 2012 OECD review found that the exercise of pedagogical leadership remained under-developed (Santiago et al., 2012[60]). More recently, the OECD found that while Portugal has made progress and there are formal structures in place that aim to strengthen leadership in schools, adequate and sufficient levels of instructional leadership practices still need to be strengthened at the school level (Liebowitz et al., 2018[61]).

New postgraduate programmes and qualifications for school leaders, intended as pre-service training, have been introduced by several universities across Portugal. In any school-principal appointment process where one or more candidates has such a qualification, all candidates who have not participated in the training must step down. This, according to national information, has acted as a strong incentive for incumbent and prospective principals to enrol in the postgraduate programme (National information reported to the OECD). However, the OECD found that the school leader role needs a professional pathway separate from that of teachers, and by remaining an elected office, leaders are still potentially ultimately responsible to fellow teachers rather than student interests (Liebowitz et al., 2018[61]).

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Chapter 2. School improvement: Policy priorities and trends, 2008-19