26 SES 09 A, Attracting, Retaining and Cultivating Leaders
How can we support careers and professional development of teachers and school leaders? This was the task for the first year of a European Commission funded network of 27 partners from 17 European Union member countries in the European Education Policy Network on Teachers and School Leaders (EEPN). Partners from the fields of education research, policy and practice collaborated in this network and conducted desk research on successful and inspiring policies, practices and projects aimed at making teacher and school leader careers more attractive. This paper reports on the main outcomes of 2019; the first year of the network.
The link between the motivation and effectiveness of teachers and standards of student achievement is clear in a lot of research (e.g., Kyriakides & Creemers, 2008; Muijs & Reynolds, 2003; Muijs et al, 2014; Reynolds et al, 2014; Sammons et al, 2009). Furthermore, school leadership is recognised as being central in creating the conditions for effective teaching (Reynolds et al, 2014; Sammons et al, 2011). Hence, attracting and keeping effective and highly motivated school leaders and teachers in schools is a pre-requisite for raising standards of education.
However, numerous reports confirm that the attractiveness of the teaching profession across Europe is decreasing (e.g., European Commission 2013; 2015; 2018). Countries are facing shortages of teachers due to the aging workforce and to less graduates entering the profession, as well as to significant numbers of teachers leaving the profession. The reasons are various and span from low status of the profession, stress and ill-being of teachers, poor opportunities for career advancement and development to salary levels, and from defective working conditions and environment. In addition, school leaders work in highly demanding positions, often with little and inadequate pre-education and with scarce in-service training. In recognising the importance of teachers for raising the attainment of students, and of school leaders for creating inclusive and effective school cultures, it is therefore vitally important to develop policies that will attract and retain quality candidates for these positions, and support them in the role through training and attractive conditions of employment. Yet, little has been done to analyse trends and evidence, policies and practices across Europe to provide guidance on effective approaches for supporting teacher and school leader retention.
On the one hand, the European Union manifests itself as culturally and socio-politically diverse, and different member states respond to the educational challenges in ways that vary depending on national and local cultures, contexts and circumstances. Amongst other things, this variation is seen in differences in how initial education, new teacher induction and ongoing professional development are provided. It is also noticeable in the ways teachers and school leaders are monitored and in the accountability frames in which they work. On the other hand and despite this diversity, European Union member states, local communities and educational institutions have also worked for equity, inclusion and engagement, and there are many commonalities in values, policies and practices across contexts. These can be examined further to identify positive approaches and allow members to learn from each other. This is what the EEPN network tried to do during its first operational year, and what we would like to present at the ECER conference focusing on what we did, how we worked and what outcomes we provided.
The EEPN desk research examined existing research, relevant European Commission funded projects, national policies and good practices from the perspective of school leaders, teachers and parents. It did so to identify the nature and effectiveness of approaches to teachers’ and school leaders’ recruitment, retention and mobility in each country. These approaches were analysed in relation to a number of thematic areas including the status and salaries of educational staff; approaches to initial teacher education, new teacher induction, continuous professional development and career development and appraisal; the nature of school leadership; and the extent of professional autonomy and responsibilities. The draft recommendations and the outcomes of the desk research reports were evaluated at the EEPN annual conference in Jyväskylä, Finland, on 18 November 2019. They were discussed within workshops among 150 conference participants and documented in a digital platform. The EEPN leadership team had two meetings after the annual conference to discuss the outcomes of the event. In these meetings, the recommendations were elaborated based on the feedback. In addition, it was agreed to provide examples to the recommendations. Finally, the analysis of the various documents and themes was brought together to identify recommendations which were published at the end of the first project year 2019 at the website of EEPN
Our research found evidence to support the need for further analysis of the obstacles facing teachers and school leaders that may affect their retention, and of effective approaches for strengthening the appeal of the professions. Not surprisingly, the most elementary conditions identified were competitive salaries of school staff, continuous professional development adapted to teachers’ and school leaders’ needs and decent working environment. Overall, the following recommendations were made and the network calls the EU institutions, the EU Member States, national, regional, and local decision-makers to: 1. Analyse obstacles for choosing the teacher and school leader profession and improve motivation to and attractiveness of the profession by ensuring effective support to teachers and school leaders. 2. Advocate high quality and inclusive initial education, induction phase, and continuous professional development of teachers and school leaders supported by necessary reforms in consultation with social partners and relevant stakeholders, research, and sufficient and sustainable investment. 3. Ensure equal access and equal opportunities to access the teaching and school leadership profession and initial and continuous professional development to teachers and school leaders regardless their gender, age, sexual orientation, economic status, ethnicity, language, religion, and citizenship status. 4. Advocate a whole school approach and democratic school culture by ensuring democratic and collaborative school leadership with the participatory approaches of all relevant school actors. 5. Support professional autonomy of teachers and school leaders to choose the most appropriate learning and teaching methods to ensure student-centred learning and freedom of expression, reinforced by research supporting pedagogy, knowledge, skills and competences of teachers. 6. Encourage partnership and cooperation between educational institutions at different sectors and levels with different local and regional actors in an open school approach, within and beyond national borders, to achieve democratic and inclusive school leadership and enable smooth transitions.
European Commission (2013). Study on policy measures to improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession in Europe: final report. Volume 1. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union. European Commission (2015). Strengthening teaching in Europe. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union. European Commission (2018). Teaching careers in Europe: access, progression and support. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union. European Education Policy Network. (2019). Policy recommendations on careers and professional development of teachers and school leaders. [https://educationpolicynetwork.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Deliverable-4_2-Policy-recommendations-v2.pdf] Kyriakides, L. & Creemers, B. (2008). A longitudinal study on the stability over time of school and teacher effects on student outcomes. Oxford Review of Education, 34(5), 521–545. Muijs, D. & Reynolds, D. (2003). Student background and teacher effects on achievement and attainment in mathematics: a longitudinal study. Educational Research and Evaluation, 9(3), 289–314. Muijs, D., Kyriakides, L., van der Werf, G., Creemers, B., Timperley, H. & Earl, L. (2014). State of the art: teacher effectiveness and professional learning. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 231–256. Reynolds, D., Sammons, S., De Fraine, B., Van Damme, J., Townsend, T., Teddlie, C. & Stringfield, S. (2014). Educational effectiveness research (EER): a state-of-the-art review. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(2), 197–230. Sammons, P., Anders, Y., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Taggart, B. & Barreau, S. (2009). Children’s cognitive attainment and progress in English primary schools during key stage 2: investigating the potential continuing influences of pre-school education. In H.G. Roßbach, H.P. Blossfeld (Eds), Frühpädagogische Förderung in Institutionen. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Sammons, P., Gu, Q., Day, C. & Ko, J. (2011). Exploring the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes: results from a study of academically improved and effective schools in England. International Journal of Educational Management, 25(1), 83–101.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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Network 4. Inclusive Education
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