01 SES 12 C, Enhancing factors and barriers to professional development
The Finnish school system relies, for example, on its high quality teacher education; teachers in primary, lower and upper secondary schools must hold a master’s degree. Yet, while the teacher education has been praised, there is more variation in the available teachers’ in-service programs (Sahlberg, 2011; Ministry of Education, 2007). The municipalities, as education providers and employers, are together with teachers responsible for continuing development and in-service training. In addition, for example, the state funds in-service training programmes, primarily in areas important for implementing education policy and reforms. Finnish teachers are required by contract to participate in three professional development (PD) days a year (Collective Agreement for the Teaching personnel 2014), and this may show in Talis results; Finnish teachers reported spending three days on courses and workshops compared with the all Talis countries’ average of eight days (Taajamo et al., 2014).
The challenge lies in the unequal capability of municipalities (N = 317) to organise teachers’ in-service training due to varying economic situations, number of inhabitants and locations of municipalities. Thus, in-service training practices are diffuse and unsystematic, and one main reason is that in-service training, previously funded by the government, is no longer free for education providers. (Jakku-Sihvonen, 2012.)
This study focuses on state funded fixed-term (2010–2016) national OSAAVA-programme that was launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2010 as a response to observed inequalities. The programme supports education providers (e.g. municipalities, federations of municipalities, private education providers, the State) to develop their education personnel systematically; ensuring the development of competencies, activating less frequent in-service training participants and improving equal access to PD. By the end of 2013 Osaava has reached 70 000 educators yearly and been funded with approx. 40 million euros.
One aim of this study was to find out factors influencing in-service training participation, and, for example, barriers to participation as well as supporting and enhancing factors were traced and analysed. In Talis the reasons that teachers cited most commonly as barriers to professional development were in Finland: a conflict with the work schedule (52 %) and a lack of incentives for participating in professional development (43 %), being in line with the other Talis countries’ average (51 %, 48 %). The Finnish Talis researchers state that one of Finland’s main future challenges is to put more effort on research in order to gain knowledge about the barriers to participation, and also systematically reduce them in practice. (Taajamo et al., 2014.)
Education personnel’s PD can be looked at through the concept of ‘capacity building’ that consists of different aspects, and according to Fullan (2005) is about developing the collective ability, i.e. dispositions, skills, knowledge, motivation and resources. At very general level it means acting together and bringing about positive change to schools, to change something in the way work is carried out within the professional communities; how to raise the teacher competence. Thus, it is about making a change in the school cultures. This study reflects Finnish education personnel’s capacity building in national context and looks at the variation of existing possibilities for the basis of it; available PD, and further, this paper focuses on the core question related to capacity building: the questions of participation.
Creswell, J.W. & Plano Clark, V.L. (2011). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Sage. Thousand Oaks. Collective Agreement for the Teaching personnel. (2014). OVTES 2014–2016. Kunnallinen opetushenkilöstön virka- ja työehtosopimus. Retrieved from http://flash.kuntatyonantajat.fi/ovtes-2014-2016/html/ Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership & sustainability. System Thinkers in Action. Thousand Oaks: Corwin press. Jakku-Sihvonen, R. (2012). Peruskoulusta perusopetukseksi. In R. Jakku-Sihvonen & J. Kuusela. 2012. Perusopetuksen aika. Selvitys koulujen toimintaympäristöä kuvaavista indikaattoreista. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön työryhmämuistioita ja selvityksiä 2012:13. Helsinki: Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö, 44–51. Ministry of Education. (2007). Opettajankoulutus 2020. Opetusministeriön työryhmämuistioita ja selvityksiä 2007:44. Helsinki: Opetusministeriö. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Teacher as our strength: An international point of view. American Educator. Summer 2011, 34–38. Taajamo, M., Puhakka, E. & Välijärvi, J. (2014). Opetuksen ja oppimisen kansainvälinen tutkimus TALIS 2013 Yläkoulun ensituloksia. Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2014:15. Helsinki: The Ministry of Culture and Education.
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