Executive Summary


Norway, as part of the White Paper n.21 “Desire to learn - early intervention and quality in schools” (2017), introduced a new competence development model for schools in which national funding for sustainable capacity and continuous professional development at all levels of the system is based on local analysis and decision making in networks of municipalities. OECD has engaged with Norway to support the implementation of this new model, as part of its Implementing Policies: Supporting Effective Change in Education programme. This report presents OECD’s main findings and recommendations to support Norway towards the further development of its implementation strategy for the new competence development model. It has been developed based on research and a number of visits and exchanges with a range of education stakeholders in Norway.

The new competence development model for schools

In Norway, teachers participate less in professional development than their TALIS counterparts, and express a higher than average unsatisfied demand for development. According to the Ministry of Education, individual professional development strategies do not provide for enough local adaptation, and municipalities and county authorities have varying capacity and expertise to engage in quality development for schools.

To improve school quality, the Norwegian government has introduced a new collective competence development model for schools with the objective of establishing a sustainable approach for schools improvement that would respond to local context and the diversity of needs between Norwegian schools. The new model relies on three complementary pillars that cater to any school needs:

  • A decentralised scheme: that aims to ensure that all municipalities (school owners) implement competence-raising measures, by channelling state funds to the municipalities.

  • A follow-up scheme: in which municipalities and county authorities that report weak results in key education and training areas over time, are offered state support and guidance.

  • An innovation scheme: that is intended to result in more research-based knowledge about the school system.

The decentralised scheme is the main pillar, where the local analysis of needs drives the competence development. National funding is intertwined with local ownership to adapt to the large diversity of contexts in Norway. The two other schemes are designed to ensure that the system is responsive to all schools, and caters to equity: municipalities lagging behind will be supported by the follow-up scheme, while co-operation with universities will promote innovation and emulation among all schools.

Moving towards successful implementation of the model

Following an analysis of the new competence development model and exchanges with education stakeholders in Norway, the OECD team analysis suggests that if the implementation is not re-examined in detail, this is likely, at best, to result in no change to the current situation and, at worst, an increase in inequalities. In particular, a number of pitfalls could jeopardise the success of the new model:

  • the policy needs a clear vision that brings together the different elements, including the follow-up scheme;

  • the role of different stakeholders needs to be clear and meaningful;

  • the policy needs to build around existing policies, such as the individual credit giving competence development (Competence for Quality programme), the curriculum reform and the national assessment strategy; and

  • there is a need for a more concretely developed implementation strategy that brings together the actions, resources, and communicates it clearly.

To address these issues, the OECD team has built on its implementation framework to identify recommendations relative to the pillars underpinning a coherent implementation strategy:

1. Designing a smart policy: the new model has to be strategically prioritised and a vision developed. Clear incentives should be communicated to the different stakeholders, and a systematic assessment and monitoring of the implementation and realisation of objectives has to be established.

2. Ensuring inclusive stakeholder engagement: the roles of the different stakeholders need to be clarified and communicated clearly, while developing capacity at every level so key players can act as intended. Transparency about the available resources and their deployment should be integrant to the communication strategy.

3. Shaping an environment conducive to the new model: the conditions for long term planning require that universities broaden their offer to meet identified local priorities. A whole of a system approach would help position the new model vis à vis complementary policies, and should be mainstreamed in collaboration forums. The responsiveness to schools and municipalities with identified capacity needs to be strengthened.

Adapting the implementation strategy for impact

Focusing the implementation strategy and aligning its components coherently can help ensure it will be effective over the long run. This requires taking concrete actions with a clear calendar and pace. Concrete actions to enhance the implementation strategy of the competence development for schools and improve its local anchoring include:

  • Refining the objectives of the new model: by defining a clear vision and associated operational objectives with all the stakeholders, while clarifying the position of the new model compared to other professional development strategies and the new curriculum.

  • Reviewing policy tools and aligning with the broader policy context: Review incentives to maximise the take-up and impact of the new model, such as embedding the new model in the assessment framework. Communicate the expectation that the prioritisation of school-based competence development flows naturally from regular school evaluation and planning processes.

  • Clarifying roles and responsibilities: Clearly define task allocation and enhance transparency at every layer on the actions undertook by the different stakeholders as an accountability mechanism. Focus in the county forum on how to safeguard the full participation of municipalities with limited capacity.

  • Gathering data for improvement: Translate objectives into indicator to monitor the implementation process and the new model. Ensure that local data are fed back to the Directorate so it can help county governors and school owners, and monitor the take-up of the model. Publicly release information and data on inputs, processes, and outcomes of the model at the municipal, county, and national level.

  • Designing a communication and engagement plan: Design a targeted communication strategy to the different stakeholders that aligns to the agreed role expectations. Organise feedback loops to foster ownership of the model among the different stakeholders, and include in the communication strategy information on accountability relationships, on data and indicators to measure progress and on the evaluation of the model.

  • Securing financial and human resources: Ensure long-term resources visibility and consider linking the level of required co-funding requirement to the municipality level of deprivation. Foster capacity development at every level by allocating sufficient time and funding resources to enable stakeholders to fully endorse their agreed role in the new model.

  • Clarifying expectations on timing and pace: Within a central framework allowing county variation, each county governor needs to work with stakeholders to set objectives linked to the phasing in of the new model and offer a clear timeline to stakeholders.

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