is quite clear: governments should require entrants to the teaching profession to have the ‘required professional knowledge and skills’. It is the responsibility of governments, UNESCO says, to ensure there are ‘sufficient places in appropriate institutions’ so trainee teachers can complete ‘an approved course in an appropriate teacher-preparation institution’.
The recommendation allows people who may lack the formal academic requirements but who possess ‘valuable experience, particularly in technical and vocational fields’ to enter teacher training. However, whether full-time or (exceptionally) part-time, all student teachers should undertake teacher-preparation, UNESCO recommends.
Teacher preparation in appropriate institutions should include
2Study of education philosophy, psychology, and sociology; education history and theory; comparative education; experimental pedagogy, schools administration and teaching methodology.
3ALL ‘teachers should be prepared in general, special and pedagogical subjects’ in universities, institutions operating at a comparable level or in special teacher training colleges.
4All staff involved in teacher preparation should be familiar with educational research and pass this on to their students.
Initial training should be supplemented by in-service training designed to improve the quality and content of teaching.
The recommendation includes other clauses which cover such things as stability of employment (‘essential in the interests of education’ as well as for teachers), disciplinary procedures, professional freedom, teacher responsibility, conditions for effective teaching and the recognition of teachers’ organisations (‘a force which can contribute greatly to educational advance and which therefore should be associated with the determination of educational policy’).
The Government breaches this UNESCO recommendation
. It allows academies and free schools to hire unqualified teachers – subject knowledge is deemed sufficient. It is suspicious of university-based teacher training. Teaching, said ex-Education Secretary Michael Gove
, is a ‘craft’ best learned on-the-job. Teachers learn by observing and being observed, he told the Education Select Committee.
Observation is important, yes. But this falls far short of the teacher education recommended by UNESCO
. Teacher training which is entirely school based may downgrade or omit educational theory. As we’ve argued before, teaching is an intellectual activity
as well as a practical one. It’s more than just passing on tips for teachers. Teachers require high-quality training and preparation – six week crash courses before being launched into schools as with Teach First or on-the-job training which focuses on lesson delivery, do not provide the intellectual foundation teachers need.
It appears, then, the Government has ignored and will continue to ignore the UNESCO recommendation. But teacher education would be better if the recommendation were implemented. And it would also be better if the Government regarded teachers’ organisations as a positive force as UNESCO recommends instead of treating unions as the enemy.