1.1.2 Comprehensive policies work best

To achieve maximum learning benefits, a teacher policy must have a vision for the way forward and a comprehensive (holistic) approach that encompasses a broad range of interlocking dimensions affecting how individuals choose to become and remain teachers, train for their work and perform effectively. As Chapter 2 suggests, a teacher policy that considers only some of the key factors is not very effective in reaching priority education objectives. At a minimum, a comprehensive teacher policy includes:

  • Thorough and relevant initial teacher and school leadership education (including good pedagogical theory and practice for a range of learners)
  • Continual professional development and support for all teachers, school leaders and support staff
  • A remuneration and material incentives package that attracts and retains the best candidates in the profession compared to similar professionals
  • A safe, healthy, stimulating teaching and learning environment.

This Guide addresses these issues, and more. For example, what teacher policies work best to ensure quality teachers and teaching? The evidence from OECD countries supports policies that create an environment for high levels of teacher effectiveness. These, in turn, are positively associated with teacher job satisfaction, positive teacher behaviours, as well as student motivation and achievement (OECD, 2014a). Other research shows that high-performing education systems build their human resources by focusing on attracting, training and supporting good teachers, rather than on attrition or firing weak teachers (Asia Society, 2014: 8). Resource-poor, low-income countries often have to balance cost consideration issues more carefully in deciding on teacher recruitment, education and employment terms to meet access and quality demands; yet they still depend on policies to attract, retain and motivate the best individuals to teaching. The Guide summarizes such options and offers recommendations on integrating various policies so that they can work in a wide range of countries and education systems – rich or poor, large or small, largely urban or still very rural.

A holistic, national teacher policy that is adequately resourced and implemented with the necessary political will and administrative skill can be a vital first step on the road to achieving a highly motivated, professional teaching corps. Achieving this objective is arguably the best investment in learners’ education that a country can make.

The next chapter of this Guide discusses the importance of formulating a teacher policy, how it should be aligned with other policies, and some of the main principles that should underpin a policy.

1.2 Purpose and Scope