Good education requires good teachers, but also some excellent teachers. Fortunately, there are many of them, but not as many as there should be. Measures are needed to make the profession more appealing. The Education Council has made recommendations on this in various reports.
There are five key recommendations:
Below we describe the themes and highlight the key corresponding recommendations.
In various of its reports, the Education Council has called for attention for improvements in the quality of initial teacher training programmes. A key part of this is a substantial subject-specific component in the teacher training programmes (Kwaliteit en inrichting van de lerarenopleiding (Quality and organisation of teacher training programmes), 2005). In 2009, the Education Council proposed the introduction of a National Teacher Training Examinations Committee for professional teacher training programmes, under the auspices of the Board of Examinations, in order to provide an assurance of the level of attainment of prospective teachers. Its most important task would be to establish assessment standards for examination of the subjects in order to ensure programmes are uniform and therefore of a comparable standard (Kwaliteitsborging van het eindniveau van aanstaande leraren (Quality assurance of the level of attainment of prospective teachers),2009). Furthermore, the Education Council believes that in-school training could provide a boost to the quality of teacher training programmes (Leraren opleiden in de school (In-school teacher training), 2005).
A key assumption of the Education Council is that the quality of the profession will remain high by setting quality standards for practising professionals and by encouraging continuing professional development (in-service training). Policies aimed at reducing teacher shortages must not result in concessions being made on the quality standards expected of teachers. The Education Council believes that the state is responsible for the necessary competence requirements applicable to teaching staff, while schools and teachers should be free in how they meet these. These competence requirements should serve as a guide for post-graduate teacher training.
The minister has already anchored seven professional competency requirements in the Education Professions Act [wet beroepen in het onderwijs]. The profession is being strengthened by the establishment of professional associations. These associations could play a role in establishing a provisional register of teachers as a private initiative. It is expected that there will be a register of diplomas by 2010 and, in the longer term, a register of practising teachers with at least four years of work experience.
The Education Council takes the view that an increase in the level of educational attainment of teachers is necessary. For new teachers in the lower years of secondary education, the initial teaching qualification should be a programme at the bachelor's degree level. They should then have to complete a programme of training at master's degree level within a further five years (post-graduate professional development). This requirement would not apply to teachers in primary education or teachers of vocational subjects in senior secondary vocational education (which include many lateral entrants to the teaching profession). However, the Education Council believes it is necessary that every teaching team should possess some expertise at the master's level. The Education Council recommends that in-service training, including compulsory training to master’s degree level, is linked to a professional register of teachers (Towards higher educational performance in secondary education, 2011; A firm foundation for every pupil, 2011; Well trained teachers for secondary vocational education, 2011).
In 2004, the education minister established seven competence requirements in the Teaching Professions Act (Wet beroepen in het onderwijs) and professional development objectives were also established. The state secretary’s Actieplan Leraar 2020 (Teacher Action Plan 2020) announces the objectives and actions aimed at a substantial increase in the level of educational attainment of teachers (preferably to master’s degree level), professional development throughout the career and teacher registration.
The Education Council believes that teachers need more space in which to exercise their profession. They need to gain more influence on the teaching process and the subject matter taught. The Education Council sees teachers as professionals within an organisation where rights and obligations apply (Voorstel van Wet op de beroepen in het onderwijs (Teaching Professions Bill), 2001); Een kwalificatiestructuur voor het onderwijs (A qualifications framework for education), 2003; Leraarschap is eigenaarschap (Teaching needs ownership), 2007).
The Education Council believes that school administrations need to be better equipped to develop as modern, professionalised workplaces (Toerusten is uitrusten (Equip and be calm), 2003; Waardering voor het leraarschap (Appreciation of the teaching profession), 2006; Naar doelmatiger onderwijs (Towards more effective education), 2010). There is a crucial role for school leaders to play in this.
There is an impending shortage of teachers, particularly in secondary education and senior secondary vocational education, because many teachers are reaching the end of their working lives. Furthermore, certain groups are structurally underrepresented in the teaching profession: full-time workers, men, academics and certain groups of people from ethnic backgrounds. A quality boost is needed to provide a structural solution to this quantitative problem. The Education Council wants to see jobs in education made more appealing in terms of both pay and job content. This will mean more people choosing the teaching profession and that current teachers will stay longer. The Education Council also recommended that there is increasing differentiation in jobs, more exchanges between school-based and non-school-based careers and a high-quality offering of educational master’s programmes. The Education Council also proposed the creation of combined positions, breaking the principle of equality of remuneration, and a number of measures to attract teachers from academic backgrounds (Waardering voor het leraarschap (Appreciation of the teaching profession), 2006. Finally, the appeal of the teaching profession would benefit from recognising excellent teachers in schools by holding them up as an inspiring example or as a role model (Excellent teachers as inspiring examples, 2011).
Measures have now already been taken in this context, such as the introduction of the jobs mix and structural increases in teachers’ pay.