Teaching in the modern world – teachers need multiple approaches to improve learning in today’s classrooms and governments should nurture teachers.

Janet Downs's picture
Today’s teachers are expected to use a wide range of strategies in the classroom, says the latest OECD report on developing school leaders.  OECD found that collaborative leadership which encourages teachers to contribute to decision making may be a more effective route to improving schools than top down leadership from the head alone.

Education for the modern world requires more than transmitting knowledge. Teachers should have deep subject knowledge but they also need to develop a “rich repertoire of teaching strategies” which included direct instruction to the whole class, guided discovery, group work, supporting self-study and individual enquiry. This range of approaches can be adapted to suit local circumstances and pupils’ needs. Teachers needed to reflect on their practices, collaborate with other individuals, develop supportive networks and acquire strong skills in the use of technology for effective teaching and tracking student learning.

The whole approach was summarised in the saying, “Teach less – learn more.”

OECD found that teacher shortage was a significant problem in many countries. This had a particular negative impact on schools in remote areas or schools with a higher proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

The report recommended two courses of action for governments. One is the need for a targeted response which would address teacher shortages. Teaching posts, particularly those which were hard-to-fill, could carry incentives not just in salary terms but such inducements as reduced contact time, smaller classes, the provision of support staff and professional development. These factors were important in ensuring that teaching was viewed as an attractive profession not just for recruitment but also for retention. Another policy response would be to raise the status of teachers and improve their comparative position in the professional job market.

So how well is the present Government doing in helping to recruit and retain teachers? Teacher recruitment is down. Teachers are maligned and subjected to “bully-boy” tactics. The Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, ratchets up his increasingly confrontational approach towards teachers. Politicians support their policies with deception and misleading data disseminated by facile tweets, glossy marketing and soundbites unsupported by evidence.

As other countries work to improve the education of their young people, England is heading for a perfect storm.



Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Be notified by email of each new post.


Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 12/05/2012 - 10:07

TES reported that delegations to the recent International Summit on the Teaching Profession committed themselves to achieving goals for the next year. The UK delegation, which comprised representatives from NUT and NASUWT, and John Hayes, the minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, promised to "seek to promote policies and conditions for teachers to be actively trusted and respected."

The TES article recognised that OECD evidence highlighted the importance of school autonomy but it also emphasised the importance of coherance. In other countries, coherence was about establishing conditions which resulted in a confident and high-achieving teaching profession. In England, by contrast, the mechanism for coherence was high-stakes inspection led by a man who believes that heads should be 'lone heroes' and avoid shared leadership.

It's not the first time that Michael Gove's policies, supposedly based on evidence, are found to be out-of-step with what other high-performing countries are doing.

Let's hope that Mr Hayes can get Mr Gove to listen.



Paul Reeve's picture
Sun, 13/05/2012 - 08:55

And from here.......


The shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg, who initially supported Wilshaw's appointment, told the Observer there was now a clear problem with morale in state schools and that building up the status of teachers would be a Labour priority in government. He said: "I think it is really important that there is public confidence and parental confidence in our schools system. When Wilshaw was appointed to Ofsted I was positive and I met him and I want to remain positive, but I was very disappointed by what he has said last week. There clearly is a problem with morale and that is primarily a consequence of negative things coming from the government. A drip, drip of denigration by the government of the profession will undermine confidence of our schools among parents."

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 13/05/2012 - 09:09

paul - thanks for the link. I notice that the article quoted Christine Gilbert, ex-head of Ofsted, who said the level of teacher professionalism was "better than ever". Despite this praise teacher morale has plumetted because of the constant rubbishing of teachers in the state sector by this Government, sections of the media and the new head of Ofsted. Ms Gilbert, however, should take some of the blame. It was she who said "satisfactory" was actually "unsatisfactory".

olarinde olusegun's picture
Wed, 19/02/2014 - 08:36

It is my serious concern for teachers to be able to meet up in building nations through their work. We can have a better society, if teachers are well cared for.

Add new comment

Already a member? Click here to log in before you comment. Or register with us.