The Vision Statement gives a future perspective of teacher education as it might
be in 2007 after the implementation of a number of policy measures across Europe.

March 2001

EUROPEAN NETWORK ON TEACHER EDUCATION POLICIES VISION STATEMENT

Leading the world in teacher training and education

It is the year 2007. Europe has a leading role in education world wide. The teaching profession is attractive and highly valued, including by young people. All of the diverse training routes are attuned to the needs both of schools and trainees/students. A constructive dialogue between the two takes place. Schools, teachers, students and other stakeholders add immense value both to the quality of life and to the life chances of future citizens. Teachers and parents take a leadership and collaborative role in creating schools and classrooms as learning organisations in which students are educated to the highest standards. Students are helped to become socially adjusted, well-educated, adaptable citizens of Europe who value lifelong learning and have the skills required to thrive in a European developed and creative economy that is technologically advanced and can thrive in a climate of rapid change.

The best schools strive to improve continuously and are rewarded as well as admired for their excellence and their ability to explore ever more effective techniques for promoting the development and attainment of all the pupils in keeping with each individual’s talents and level of ability. There are only small differences between the schools that are most effective in achieving these goals and those that still have some scope for improving the quality of their service and appropriate levels of attainment of the pupils.

The differences matter, because they provide the clues for further improvements. But it is more meaningful to talk about partnerships and networks of schools and the overwhelming similarities between schools than it is to dwell on the minor differences between them. All deliver a rich and inclusive learning experience. All work in close partnership with parents and the communities in which they are located. All prepare their students for a life a personal fulfilment, active citizenship and social inclusion, employability, and a life of environmental and social awareness. All live by the maxim that “even one pupil not achieving to the maximum of his/her potential is one too many”. All have clear preventative policies and strategies that discriminate positively in favour of pupils at risk of educational disadvantage and underachievement. Together with other local statutory and voluntary agencies they collaborate in taking vigorous supportive and remedial action, that is sensitive and proportionate, at the first sign of learning or other difficulties. All epitomise the concept of ‘high reliability learning organisations’.

This success is by design. Here is how it’s done:

Initial teacher training and education is part of a continuum. It builds on the foundations of high quality primary and second level education to develop a lifelong commitment to continuous improvement and updating of skills. High quality training and education equips newly qualified teachers to begin work effectively in the classroom. Supported induction over the first year of employment is focused on further development of the teacher’s knowledge, skill and sense of dedicated service as well as smoothing the entry into teaching. Continuous professional development is designed to meet system needs such as curricular innovation as well as meeting the professional needs of teachers and keeping them up-to-date with the latest educational developments across Europe and, ultimately, raising standards in the classroom. Networking, making the best use of technological advances, is the norm. There is extensive sharing of good practice.

  • All teachers are ‘learning professionals’. Many remain closely connected with higher education institutions and may be engaged with research. They all routinely spend time reflecting on their experiences and updating their knowledge, skills and competences. They are entitled to sabbaticals designed to extend their research or personal development. All are experts in teaching and in creating highly effective learning environments in their classroom and schools. Many are subject experts and share their knowledge throughout their own school as well as with others. A significant proportion are involved with local businesses and with other schools and teachers elsewhere in Europe, which helps them to assimilate the latest learning techniques. They help pupils to learn how to learn and how to develop their critical thinking skills. Teachers have a clear understanding of the changing needs of the labour market in their own countries as well as in other Member States. They have an intimate knowledge of the practical skills required in the workplace and prepare their pupils and students for a life of employability.
  • Teachers are fully supported in building their expertise and in maximising their time. They are provided with excellent initial and in-service training and education (guided by regular and effective performance reviews and evaluations), regular opportunities for study visits at home and abroad, research scholarships and sabbaticals. Through ICT, which they use extensively, they have instant access to a comprehensive range of topical materials and support systems. Skilled support teams ensure that teachers are relieved of unnecessary burdens and that they can concentrate on the things they do best. Teaching Assistants or ‘associates’ are deployed imaginatively in the classroom under the supervision of the teacher.
  • Each school is well led by professional educators and representatives of the school community it serves, including parents whose children attend it. The collaboration of teachers, parents and community representatives in school governance, policy formation and management imbues school culture and ethos. Each school has a clear and ambitious vision in terms of pupils outcomes of what it is trying to achieve. The school is at the hub of the community it serves. Schools and teachers continually monitor and review their performance, attainment levels and pupil outcomes. They adopt different approaches that are appropriate to local circumstances and the needs of individual pupils. Even newly qualified teachers are clear about the strategies available to them and know where to turn for extra help.
  • Schools are teams of high-performing teachers. The most talented progress quickly and are rewarded for their skills with pupils in and out of the classroom - they do not have to become managers to advance professionally. Each department of the school offers high-quality learning experiences and, while there is often a friendly rivalry between them, the main context is mutual support. It becomes a matter of concern to all the teaching staff if a pupil has characteristics that are associated with learning difficulties or shows signs of a mismatch between ability and attainment levels. The teachers work seamlessly together to resolve the problems where they can and engage collaboratively in the integrated delivery of the services of other agencies in meeting the holistic needs of individual pupils. The commitment to collective working is instilled and supported from initial teacher education (ITE) onwards.
  • Remedial work with students remains comparatively expensive. But schools, like other organisation that aspire to high-reliability, are staffed to cope with it. When there is little remedial work to be done the spare resource that is available is devoted to making improvements to the school, to developing and extending teachers’ knowledge and to other continuous improvement activities. (Society’s vision for schools is no longer based only on efficiency arguments. Important though it is to use resources efficiently, the overriding priority for schools is the right of the individual to the most effective service possible. Even in narrow financial terms it is now generally accepted that savings through lower crime rates alone more than pay for the extra resources, and that the benefits that accrue to Europe’s improved competitiveness are larger again.)
  • There is a pervading spirit of mutual support, not inconsistent with competitive co-operation. All training and education providers network effectively and schools belong to a network of similar schools (including some from abroad) from which they can learn. Initial teacher education and the education providers are either excellent or improving fast. The best providers help those that need to improve. There are mechanisms for steering the best teachers to tackle the most challenging schools and classes.
  • There are no damaging overall or long-term shortages of teachers in any countries in the expanded Europe nor any significant shortages in any phases, subjects or regions within Member States. The pay, conditions of service and career structures attract and retain enough of the kind of people who are capable of becoming effective teachers irrespective of the graduate labour market supply position. Mobility of teachers across borders is regarded as the norm.
  • Funding for schools has been allocated to discriminate positively in favour of young people at risk of educational disadvantage and early school leaving. However, individual differences in funding are now evening out because of the effectiveness of this policy and individual attainment levels are beginning to correlate around a more common high (yet still improving) level. Now, there are ways of judging training and education provider effectiveness and of evaluating school performance that is based on added value and is generally accepted as fair. Institutions are provided with the help they need to improve.
  • The role of the central governments in Europe has evolved from mapping out the long-term strategies for education, funding, and enacting legislation to include maintaining an infrastructure that supports schools in their role of high reliability learning organisations. This includes funding school networks, commissioning and promulgating research into best practice, and taking on a catalytic role. Governments routinely involve all the key stakeholders. But in some areas the State is involved less than previously. Levels of intervention are in inverse proportion to success. Although there may be exceptions, it no longer tries to be prescriptive. Its approach is to allow “freedom within parameters”.

A huge investment in education has paid off handsomely. European society is well on the way to becoming the best adjusted and most competitive in the world. It is highly creative and well suited to adapting energetically to the often chaotic and rapid changes in the knowledge and creative world economies in which we compete. Education brings a contribution towards fuller employment, social cohesion and active citizenship. The goal of certification from school and employable skills for all is ever closer to attainment with a wide range of different kinds of employment being available to suit all talents. European workers are sought the world over.

ENTEP March 2001