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Chapter 3: Dimensions


As Chapters 1 and 2 establish, teacher quality is generally accepted as an important determinant – although not the only one – of education outcomes. Good-quality teaching and teachers rely on high levels of teacher professionalism and autonomy: teachers need to be active agents in ensuring effective teaching and learning. Discussion of teacher quality should be underpinned by a contextualized and clear understanding of the pedagogical processes that generate quality learning and how a teacher agency can enact them (Sayed and Ahmed, 2014).

Good-quality teachers are a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for successful education. Good teaching is the result of a complex combination of different skills and competencies, working environments and support, as well as factors such as motivation and commitment. A body of evidence now shows that a number of factors impact both positively and negatively on teacher quality or performance. These include: initial education, CPD and qualifications; class sizes and PTRs; employment conditions, including rewards and incentives; working conditions and environment; access to resources; respect for teachers and their perceived social and professional status; involvement in decisions which affect them; and professional autonomy.

This chapter examines the most important dimensions a teacher policy needs to address. Many are interrelated and rooted in the historical, political, cultural or economic contexts of a given country or education system. For this reason, they must be addressed together as part of a holistic, integrated teacher policy.

Although the chapter focuses on the most important elements of a teacher policy, these must be seen in the context of a specific country or education system. Some of these elements have been the subject of extensive research and study, and the space available does not allow an exhaustive discussion of each. This chapter sets out the basic principles of each dimension; it then provides references to more detailed sources (in the form of both embedded references and hyperlinks) to allow the users of this Guide to research them in greater detail, as required. The chapter presents the basic principles of nine key dimensions that are considered crucial to any comprehensive teacher policy:

  • Teacher recruitment and retention
  • Teacher education (initial and continuing)
  • Deployment
  • Career structures/paths
  • Teacher employment and working conditions
  • Teacher reward and remuneration
  • Teacher standards
  • Teacher accountability
  • School governance.

Activity: The nine dimensions of a National Teacher Policy

Section 3 sets out the nine key dimensions of a National Teacher policy. As you read, think about your own context and for each dimension, identify three aspects that are particularly challenging or relevant to your own context.

For example:

Under 3.1, Elizabeth (working in the UK) identified:

  • The recruitment and retention of school leaders (3.1.6). Many posts remain unfilled owing the high stakes inspection and testing regimes which make it a very stressful job.
  • Recruitment problems in certain subject areas (STEM subjects) (3.1.1) as science graduates can earn more in our professions.
  • The lack of diversity in the teaching profession (3.1.5). Ethic minorities form 14% of the population in the UK and are under-represented in the teaching profession.

Under 3.3: Florence (working in Zambia) identified:

  • Deployment to rural, remote and difficult urban areas (3.3.2) as an issue. People do not want to go and work in remote rural areas and need incentives to do so.
  • Deployment to initial postings (3.3.3). As a young teacher she was posted to a rural school where she was the only female teacher. She felt vulnerable and unsupported. She would like to see policies to ensure newly qualified teachers are well-supported.
  • Deployment and the right to family life (3.3.4). When teachers are transferred, it can be difficult for the rest of the family.

When you reach the end of this section, you should have identified three priorities in your context for each of the nine dimensions.

3.1 Teacher recruitment and retention

The recruitment and retention of teachers is a fundamental aspect of any teacher policy. This section focuses on the need for a recruitment strategy based on:

  • Current and projected needs
  • Attracting and retaining teachers
  • Employment status of teachers
  • Licensing or certification
  • Equity in teacher recruitment
  • Recruiting school leaders
  • Recruiting teachers in fragile states and emergency situations.

3.1.1 Evidence-informed recruitment and retention strategies

A teacher recruitment and retention strategy should be viewed as a necessary complement to the national education programme or plan (see Chapter 2, Table 2.1), whether the strategy itself is national or decentralized/ local. It should take into account, in equal measure:

  • Quantitative needs – sufficient numbers for all classrooms, schools or learning groups at all levels of education (including ECE), geographic areas and subjects
  • Qualitative concerns – all teachers should be well- qualified, skilled and effective classroom practitioners, in as much as teacher education capacity and funding permit
  • Current and projected future needs, for example the time span of an education plan and the teacher preparation and recruitment cycle.

A recruitment strategy should take into consideration the following factors (both current and projected):Footnote 8

  • Teacher attrition rates (teachers leaving the profession and due to retire)
  • Changes in birth rates and demographic trends: for example, changes in infant mortality rates and migration rates
  • Class sizes and PTRs
  • Impact of global education goals on school enrolment
  • Impact of the current expansion of ECE on the need for ECE teachers and on primary enrolment rates
  • Impact of increased enrolments and completion rates at lower education levels (pre-primary and primary) on the demand for, and enrolments in, higher education levels (primary and secondary)
  • Urban/rural needs, particularly rural
  • Gender profiles (the need to improve gender balance by recruiting more males in most countries/regions and more females in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in particular). :

Planning a recruitment strategy requires access to information:

  • National data on the existing teaching force: education sector human resource information systems (also known as TMIS or EMIS) provide integrated, teacher- level information about teacher profiles, education and careers, as well as allow the monitoring of teacher recruitment, deployment, retention and education, teacher supply and shortages in key subject areas. These information systems also allow planners and policy-makers to see disaggregated data (in terms of age, gender, the urban/rural divide, etc.) about the teaching force. Where such systems do not currently exist, introducing them is an important first step towards developing a coherent teacher policy (ILO, 2012: 14–16; see also Chapter 2, Section 2.2.5 and Chapter 4, Section 4.4.4).
  • Macro-level data, such as that produced by UNESCO- UIS (see Chapter 2, Section 2.3).

3.1.2 Attracting and retaining teachers

A teacher policy should have a recruitment strategy in place to ensure that an adequate number of the ‘right’ teachers enter the profession. It should identify the characteristics required of teachers and determine how to attract candidates with the desired profile. Likewise, the strategy should include plans to retain teachers: it is not efficient for education systems to use precious human and financial resources to train and recruit teachers who will not remain in the profession for at least a minimum duration. Strategies to retain teachers include:

  • Targeted recruitment to ensure the future or trainee teachers selected are committed, motivated and aware of the realities of teaching, rather than simply seeking to obtain a qualification
  • Ensuring employment and work conditions are attractive and conducive enough to retain teachers
  • Providing real options for career advancement, linked to CPD and access to increased responsibilities, along with appropriate incentives
  • Making a minimum period of exercise a requirement for benefiting from state-funded teacher training (so that teachers who do not teach for a minimum number of years after qualifying are required to reimburse part of their training cost).

A growing body of evidence shows that teacher attrition and low motivation are closely linked to factors such as work and employment conditions, remuneration, career prospects, administrative support for teachers (for example, timely payment of salaries), PTRs/class sizes, living conditions (especially housing and transport) and access to health care (Bennell, 2004; Bennell and Akyeampong, 2007; Mulkeen, 2010; Mulkeen and Chen, 2008; VSO, 2002 and 2008). Where country-specific information is not already available, research may be commissioned on the factors impacting on teacher recruitment, retention and motivation in a particular context.

A strategy to attract and retain teachers will be specific to a particular context and should directly address those factors that have been shown to minimize the attraction of teaching, hinder recruitment and contribute to attrition (Box 3.1).


Absence of access to suitable housing is one reason cited by teachers for leaving the profession. It is also frequently a barrier to deployment in remote rural zones. Provision of housing, either by the education authorities or by communities, has been used to retain teachers in a number of Anglophone African countries:

In the Gambia, where about 25% of teachers have some form of school housing, the government is using donor funds to provide permanent teacher housing in rural areas, at no charge to teachers. In combination with a significant hardship allowance for rural posting (up to 40% of basic salary in some cases), this is having a significant impact on the attraction and retention of teachers to rural schools.

In Lesotho, teacher housing is provided for some secondary school teachers, but rarely for primary teachers.

In Malawi, some schools provide houses for teachers. Teachers pay a rent, which is used for maintenance or other school activities, at the discretion of school management.

In Zambia, innovative schemes to attract and retain teachers are being used including, in Gwembe district, loans to female teachers in the most rural schools to purchase solar panels.x .

Adapted from: Mulkeen, Aiden, 2010. Teachers in Teachers in Anglophone Africa: Issues in Teacher Supply, Training and Management. Washington DC, World Bank. © World Bank License: Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY 3.0 IGO)This is an adaptation of an original work by UNESCO. Responsibility for the views and opinions expressed in the adaptation rests solely with the author or authors of the adaptation and are not endorsed by any member institution of the World Bank Group.

A recruitment policy may also encourage qualified, experienced teachers who have retired, taken career breaks or changed profession to return to teaching. Evidence shows that such a policy can provide a wealth of experienced teacher talent, particularly from the pool of qualified female teachers – often relatively young – who have taken career breaks for family reasons (OECD, 2005). Such returns should be structured as part of education human resource policies and should especially be accompanied with refresher training and ongoing CPD, in addition to induction and other appropriate professional support. Several states of Australia, such as Queensland (QCT, 2013), have organized and detailed programmes in place that clearly set out the requirements and conditions for returnees to reintegrate teaching.

3.1.3 Contract, para- and community teachers

A growing number of countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Latin America have moved away from a teacher corps largely or exclusively devoted to permanently employed teachers (civil service or other) to engage large numbers of contract teachers. Contract teachers are recruited for a variety of reasons in different country contexts:

  • Equity and access: to extend education access, especially in rural and remote regions facing difficulties to recruit qualified teachers
  • Economic: as a low-cost means of meeting budgetary constraints in teacher hiring
  • Accountability: to enhance local accountability by reducing teacher absenteeism and improving performance
  • Diversity: to recruit local teachers from the same ethnic or language group as learners from disadvantaged groups to improve their learning outcomes.

Contract teachers are usually recruited on temporary or fixed-term (usually annual) contracts. They may not possess a teaching qualification, often have minimal pedagogic training (from a few weeks to three to six months at most) and are paid much lower salaries than regular teachers (as low as one-eighth of a regular teacher’s salary). In many countries, contract teachers are younger, often less experienced and sometimes more of them are female, but these profiles are not uniform (Duthilleul, 2005; Fyfe, 2007; Kingdon et al., 2013).

The results of the various regimes are mixed. Contract teachers have permitted substantial increases in enrolments and lower PTRs in West African countries, where they were first introduced on a massive scale. However, these countries still rank at or near the bottom of international classifications for access to education and learning. On the other hand, India’s increased hiring of contract teachers has not worsened the quality of education, and in some local contexts may even have improved learning outcomes. The lower levels of training for contract teachers have reportedly been offset by an increased school and teaching effort, but the differences are often very small and the overall impact is minimal. Contract teachers are more likely to attend school than civil service teachers in Benin and India, but more likely to be absent in Indonesia and Peru (Alcázar et al., 2006; Bhattacharjea et al., 2011; Chaudhury et al., 2006; Senou, 2008). Absenteeism may be lower among contract teachers in countries such as Benin and India partly because they typically live in the communities where schools are located and have fewer non-teaching responsibilities than civil service teachers (UNESCO, 2014a: 268).

Several conditions ensure the successful use of contract teachers that are not simply related to their status. Among these is greater parental or community involvement, because the teachers are recruited locally. In one experiment in Kenya, the benefit of halving class size by hiring a contract teacher was observed only in communities where parents had been trained to monitor teachers, and relatives of local civil service teachers were not allowed to be hired as contract teachers (Duflo et al., 2012). Similarly, in Mali, the language and mathematics scores of Grades 2 and 5 students were consistently higher under contract teachers who were closely monitored by the local community (Bourdon et al., 2010; UNESCO, 2014a: 259).

Several initiatives have been developed to integrate progressively contract teachers into national teaching forces. Contract and community teachers in Benin have been absorbed into the civil service with the necessary training to meet national pre-service standards. Indonesia has an ambitious teacher appraisal, professional development and career programme to integrate its large percentage of contract teachers into the civil service, at the cost of a sizeable increase in the government’s education expenditure (Chang et al., 2014; UNESCO, 2014a: 258).

Several promising initiatives provide professional development support to untrained teachers through distance education. In Ghana, the Untrained Teacher Diploma in Basic Education programme provides support for more than half of the untrained teachers in the fifty-seven most disadvantaged districts (UNESCO, 2014a: 249).

Recruiting underqualified and undertrained community teachers can provide support for schools in remote areas and marginalized communities. In Viet Nam, the Teaching Assistants and School Readiness programme launched in 2006 has provided learning for over 100,000 children. Over 7,000 locally recruited bilingual teaching assistants in 32 provinces were deployed to help ethnic minority children in remote locations prepare for school through early childhood education activities for two months prior to their entry into Grade 1; the children were also provided additional instruction once they were in school, including help with learning Vietnamese (Harris, 2009; UNESCO, 2014a: 280). In Cambodia, teacher trainees normally have to complete Grade 12 for entry into teaching; however, this requirement was relaxed for remote areas where upper secondary education is unavailable, resulting in an increasing supply of teachers who are motivated to stay in remote areas and able to teach in the local language (Benveniste et al., 2008; UNESCO, 2014a: 235).

Some high- and middle-income countries have developed similar systems recruiting top-level tertiary graduates as teachers directly from higher education. These alternative entry routes, first initiated in the United States with the ‘Teach for America’ programme, recruit university graduates who are motivated to teach in disadvantaged urban and rural schools, providing them with limited initial training and induction prior to beginning teaching. These programmes have spread to several other OECD and Latin American countries. Independent reviews of the ‘Teach for America’ programme have shown that the teachers are as effective in achieving learning outcomes based on standardized tests as other similarly untrained teachers, but not as effective as certified beginning teachers who have undergone traditional teacher education preparation. Moreover, 50% of these young people leave teaching after two years and 80% after three years – an even higher ratio than the average attrition rates in the USA. This high turnover rate is costly in terms of providing stable learning environments for disadvantaged pupils and the added recruitment costs to the educational authorities employing them (Vasquez Heilig and Jez, 2014: 1, 13–14).

A teacher policy should carefully weigh the pros and cons of large-scale recruitment of contract teachers in relation to education access, quality and diversity objectives. Although often necessary and beneficial for greater access in rural and remote areas in low-income countries, two different entry qualifications and standards lead to a reduced professional status that hinders recruiting high-quality candidates in the long run. Such a programme can also lead to a poorer teaching and learning environment in schools, created by tensions and reduced cooperation between contract and permanently employed teachers. Although some of the examples discussed above show that it is possible to formulate good policy in less than ideal circumstances, when developing an appropriate policy for contract/community teachers, it is advisable to:Footnote 9

  • Establish a timeline for ensuring parity between contract/community and civil service teachers
  • Provide the professional development these teachers require and need
  • Institute induction, mentoring and supervisory programmes by qualified, experienced teachers or school directors to improve teaching practices
  • Ensure that contract/community teachers have similar rights and benefits compared to regular teachers
  • Involve teacher union representatives in decisions on such policy.

3.1.4 Teacher licensing or certification

Most countries have procedures in place for the licensing or certification of teachers, to ensure individuals wishing to teach possess the necessary knowledge, competences and attributes. These vary widely, but may include education levels, teaching skills, citizenship, proficiency in the language of instruction, and medical and security checks. The individuals developing a teacher policy will wish to work with professional bodies (such as teaching professional councils where they exist) or create such structures where they are not in place, to ensure that the procedures for licensing teachers reflect wider development and education policy. Such measures will include reviewing licensing bodies and procedures, as well as ensuring coherence between the licensing policy and teacher education (see Section 3.2) and teacher standards (see Section 3.6). It is important to ensure that licensing processes are transparent and equitable, and do not result in the exclusion of particular groups or individuals (Darling-Hammond, 2001: 751–776; ILO, 2012: 16–17).

3.1.5 Equity in teacher recruitment

Equity and transparency in teacher recruitment and retention are fundamental principles. Equity should be understood not only as a practice that is inclusive in terms of gender, age, language and ethnicity, but as a broader approach impacting on the entire recruitment process. For example, recruitment policy and procedures should include practical measures to ensure equal access to candidates with disabilities, as well as candidates who belong to minority groups, come from rural communities, have family responsibilities or live with HIV. This requires policies or actions such as:Footnote 10

  • Publicizing recruitment opportunities amongst under-represented groups
  • Providing information or training to under-represented groups to ensure equal access
  • Setting targets for recruitment from certain groups
  • Using recruitment criteria that will not unfairly disadvantage some groups or individuals
  • Training recruiters in applying equity principles
  • Using positive action where necessary
  • Ensuring transparent and fair recruitment procedures.

3.1.6 Recruitment of school leaders

Effective school leaders are among the main determinants of effective schools, effective teachers and hence, educational outcomes. In many contexts, however, school leaders or ’acting leaders/heads’ are selected from within the existing teaching staff and assigned to school leadership functions without the necessary skills, training or authority to perform the role effectively (ILO, 2012: 42; OECD, 2014a: 68–70). A teacher policy should provide for a recruitment of school leaders underpinned by the principles of efficiency, equity and transparency. Although it is possible in some contexts to combine school leadership with classroom teaching, all school leaders should be formally appointed to and remunerated for their leadership responsibilities.

The recruitment of school leaders will be closely associated with education and training in school leadership, whether delivered prior to recruitment or in-service, as part of CPD. The process should be based on the standards required of school leaders in terms of qualifications, knowledge, competences, and attributes (see Sections 3.7 and 3.7.3). Qualification standards for school leaders are likely to include a combination of academic qualifications, professional teacher training, management training (including a focus on school administration, instructional leadership and school improvement) and a minimum period of teaching experience. (ILO, 2012: 43; OECD, 2014a: 71–72).

The recruitment process should be based on these standards and designed to identify candidates who can meet them in a transparent and open manner. A framework for recruitment procedures and eligibility criteria has been recommended to facilitate the process. When positions for school leaders become vacant, they should be well publicized through locally appropriate and broadly accessible communication channels, both within and outside the school. Clear information regarding the required profile (person specification), the job description and the application process should be freely available. Selection panels should comprise employer, teacher and parent representatives, as well as members of school governing bodies or school councils who have been trained in recruiting school leaders. Where no candidate fulfils the specifications, a candidate who demonstrates the potential to perform the role with sufficient professional support, preparation and training may be appointed; in such cases, confirmation of the appointment should be made conditional on the candidate achieving the requisite level of qualification and performance within an agreed timeframe (ILO, 2012: 41–45; OECD, 2009: 22, 39).

3.1.7 Teacher recruitment in fragile states and emergency situations

There are very specific requirements in terms of teacher recruitment in fragile states and emergency situations, including post-conflict and post-disaster contexts (PCPD).

Such recruitment must be planned systematically and include: long-term coordinated plans to secure teacher supply and stability; clarity about work and employment conditions; and professional support and development for teachers working with learners experiencing conflict and trauma.

INEE has produced minimum standards for the recruitment and selection of teachers in emergency situations (Box 3.2).


INEE has suggested that the objective in emergency situations should be: “A sufficient number of appropriately qualified teachers and other education personnel are recruited through a participatory and transparent process, based on selection criteria reflecting diversity and equity.” Guidance notes to realize this objective recommend the following:

  • Job descriptions: These are equitable and non-discriminatory, and include roles and responsibilities, clear reporting lines and a code of conduct
  • Experience and qualifications: Teachers are qualified and have appropriate credentials and skills to provide psychosocial support to learners and teach learners with disabilities. Where possible, teachers should speak the learners’ mother tongue. Where candidates no longer have their certificates and professional documentation due to the emergency, their teaching skills should be assessed.
  • Selection criteria: These should include academic background, teaching experience, including teaching children with disabilities, sensitivity to psychosocial needs of learners, trade or other technical skills, relevant language ability.
  • Diversity criteria: these should reflect those of the community, taking into account underlying social tensions and longstanding inequalities which may have an effect on the recruitment process.
  • Other qualifications: teachers should be able to interact with and be accepted by the community; where possible they should be selected primarily from the affected community because of their understanding of the social, economic and political context.
  • References: where possible, these should be checked to ensure learners are not put at risk.
  • Class size: sufficient teachers should be recruited to set locally defined, realistic limits on class size.
For more information: INEE, 2010: 95–97

3.2 Teacher education – initial and continuing

A coherent and holistic teacher education framework is an essential component of a teacher policy.‘Strong, objective-led policy for teacher training, that clearly outlines supply and demand, budgetary and resourcing needs and how these will help meet education goals, is necessary at national and international levels’ (ILO, 2012: 225).Teacher education includes three interrelated stages: initial teacher preparation; the induction period, when newly qualified teachers begin to teach and should receive supervised mentoring and support, prior to being licensed or certified; and continuing professional development or in-service education and training (INSET), particularly important for untrained or undertrained teachers (UNESCO, 2014a: 236).

3.2.1 Initial teacher education

Initial teacher education (also known as pre-service teacher education or training) is key to the teacher quality and performance. Darling-Hammond (2000: 1) notes that:

The findings of both the qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that policy investments in the quality of teachers may be related to improvements in student performance. Quantitative analyses indicate that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics, both before and after controlling for student poverty and language status … This analysis suggests that policies adopted by states [in the USA] regarding teacher education, licensing, hiring, and professional development may make an important difference in the qualifications and capacities that teachers bring to their work.

In India, pre-service teacher training and having a Master’s level qualification were found to have a significant positive correlation to learner outcomes (Kingdon, 2006). A study using the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) data set found that years of professional training in teachers showed a positive relationship to mathematics achievement in some cases, but not achievement of students in four out of five countries (Spreen and Fancsali, 2005).

However, initial teacher education should be part of an integrated professional development model linked both to induction and mentoring at the beginning of a career and to ongoing professional development throughout a career. Initial teacher education is likely to be planned as part of a teacher recruitment strategy based on current needs (Section 3.1). For this reason, coordination among teacher preparation programmes, education ministries or departments – including decentralized structures – and the bodies responsible for financing teacher training and recruitment is essential, particularly as the emphasis moves towards more school-based, learner-oriented outcomes (ILO, 2012: 224–226; Moon, 2013: 11–14).

3.2.2 Candidate selection and entry requirements

Too often, candidates are recruited on the basis of minimum entry requirements, without examining their attitude, motivation and suitability for the teaching profession. Selection processes may include interviews, aptitude tests and screening for suitability and motivation. Although costly to implement, such measures pay dividends in the medium- and long-term, in terms of enhancing teacher retention and performance. Providing scholarships for able candidates can enhance the recruitment of candidates to teach scarce subjects. Policy developers should introduce selection processes aimed at identifying suitable, motivated candidates for initial teacher training.Footnote 11

Entry requirements will vary according to the context: countries with few graduates may recruit candidates who have successfully completed secondary schooling – or even ten years of schooling – to train as primary teachers, while candidates for training as secondary teachers will require a degree. Minimum entry requirements should, however, strike a balance between attracting those with a sufficiently high level of education and the potential to become effective teachers and ensuring that there are sufficient candidates to meet needs. In general, revising minimum entry requirements upwards is an effective strategy to attract the most qualified candidates, thereby enhancing education quality. However, this has budgetary implications, since better-qualified candidates are more likely to be selected for other sectors and are therefore able to command higher salaries. Higher standards may also reduce diversity in teacher recruitment and negatively affect equity concerns – resulting in fewer women, ethnic or language minorities, disabled candidates and hence fewer future teachers – entailing a trade-off based on the higher priority for initial teacher education (see also Section 3.2.6). Generally, where one of the objectives of a teacher policy is to improve education quality, minimum entry requirements for teacher training should be high enough to ensure that teachers with adequate knowledge, competences and attributes graduate from training (see the example in Box 3.3).


Discussions on how to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools in New South Wales, Australia led to a ‘Blueprint for action, Great Teaching, Inspired Learning’, intended as a basis for reform. Recognizing that pupil performance is most closely influenced by teacher quality, this includes future directions for recruitment of suitable candidates for initial teacher education.

‘Entrants into teacher education will be high academic performers, have well-developed literacy and numeracy skills and show an aptitude for teaching.’ Applicants admitted to initial teacher education must achieve specified minimum scores in their school leaving examinations and have literacy and numeracy skills equivalent to the top 30% of the population; where they do not meet the required literacy and numeracy benchmarks, they may be admitted to initial teacher education but will be required to complete study during their training and a new literacy and numeracy assessment before their final-year professional experience placement to demonstrate they meet the required skills levels.

‘Teaching will attract more of the brightest and motivated school leavers and career changers.’ Incentives and scholarships will be targeted to attract more of the ‘best and brightest’ school leavers into teaching, in particular in subjects where there is a shortage of teachers and in rural and remote communities. Secondary schools will be encouraged to identify high performing students with an aptitude for teaching as early as year 10 and encourage them into teaching, for example by providing work experience placements based on teaching careers.

For more information: NSW Government, 2013: 7–9.

3.2.3 Content, curricula and school based teaching practice

The content and curricula of teacher training programmes will necessarily be specific to the local context, and should be aligned with national education policies and specific classroom issues, such as language policies. However, a converging body of evidence demonstrates that the most effective approaches to teacher education combine theory and practice, with trainees actively participating in their training. The most effective teacher training courses involve active, experiential, practice-based learning focusing on outcomes rather than inputs. These courses consider trainee teachers as ‘reflective practitioners’, who learn both by doing and reflecting on their practice.

This means that teacher training should include a significant amount of classroom-based teaching practice supervised by selected experienced, qualified teachers, where trainee teachers can develop school and classroom competences. Practical, school-based teacher training prepares trainee teachers for the realities of working in schools. Trainee teachers who are aware of the realities of teaching – including working in remote schools with few teaching and learning resources, where teachers need to be creative and motivated in order to perform well – are more likely to be effective teachers once they begin teaching. Teacher training colleges such as those run by the Humana People to People organizations explicitly train trainee teachers for this reality; the training includes preparing for living and teaching in remote communities, including producing teaching and learning aids from locally available materials (Humana People to People, 2013).

3.2.4 Profile/qualifications of teacher educators

Effective, motivated and inspiring teacher educators are necessary to ensure trainee teachers are well trained, although few policy frameworks emphasize this aspect enough (Moon, 2013: 23; Naylor and Sayed, 2014: 11)Footnote 12. Depending on the needs of the context, a teacher policy may include recommendations or requirements for the profile, qualifications and professional development of teacher educators. Teacher educators should understand and use active learning methods, and effectively support training. They should understand pedagogy and be able to convey a variety of teaching methods, techniques and processes; be knowledgeable and experienced in practical issues related to day-to-day work in the classroom and schools; and be involved in or at least informed of research directly related to their area of expertise. They should be able to model good teaching behaviour in their classrooms, so as to give trainee teachers ‘a genuine learning experience, with first-hand insights into teaching and learning that might not be fully appreciated or understood (for instance related to diversity of learners), were they to be discussed or conveyed in other ways’ (European Commission, 2013: 9; see also UNESCO, 2014a). They should have in-depth knowledge of the national education system and its context; good skills in teamwork and collaborative work; and an enjoyment of teaching, so as to generate a positive attitude towards teaching amongst their students (ILO, 2012: 242–43).

Exercising the profession of teacher educator requires access and commitment to lifelong learning. In addition to keeping abreast of developments in education, teaching, and their own profession, teacher educators also need to be lifelong learners to promote lifelong learning with the teachers they train. As is the case for teachers, this will include selection and initial training, induction and career-long CPD (European Commission, 2013: 21).

Selection and initial training

Selection criteria may include formal qualification as a teacher educator; they may specify a combination of minimum qualification levels (such as a Master’s degree) and teaching experience at primary or secondary level, or be based on a competency framework (see Section 3.7). Although teacher educators are often selected on the basis of their subject knowledge or research experience, rather than on their competence in teacher education, ‘the criteria of entrance qualifications and prior experience can be useful instruments to provide a minimum level at the start of the teacher educator career’ (European Commission, 2013: 21-22).


As many teacher educators do not benefit from specific training, an induction phase facilitates the transition from teacher to teacher educator. It promotes an understanding of the role, developing professional confidence and accessing the knowledge base and language of teacher education (European Commission, 2013: 22).

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Teacher educators should have access to and responsibility for undertaking ongoing professional development linked to agreed teacher educator standards (UNESCO, 2014a: 246–247). They should also undergo regular appraisals, linked to these standards and to their CPD plans. A policy may include formal requirements for CPD, or create incentives, mechanisms and favourable conditions to stimulate professional learning, including self-directed CPD.

Professional communities and associations of teacher educators help to develop and reinforce the professional identity of teacher educators: this needs to be developed from within the professional community and cannot be implemented only by policy measures (European Commission, 2013: 31). Such professional communities may be formal professional organizations, able to represent their members in dialogue with external stakeholders such as unions, associations of individual members or professional associations with a regulatory function. Alternatively, they may be informal communities and networks of teacher educator professional.

Not only do teacher educators play a vital role in fostering, maintaining and improving high-quality teaching and learning, they are ideally placed to contribute to the formulation of education and teacher policy. Yet teacher educators and their representatives are too often neglected when policy is being developed, meaning that policies do not benefit from or reflect their knowledge and experience (European Commission, 2013: 29). Teacher educators and their representatives should be key players in the development and implementation of teacher policy in general and policies related to their own profession in particular (Darling-Hammond, 2006: 3, 13).

3.2.5 Qualification, induction of new teachers, mentoring and probation

Successful completion of initial teacher training, including the practicum, leads to qualification or obtaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). In practice, this is only the beginning of a teaching career, which will involve ongoing development. Before certification or licensing, newly qualified teachers may be required to successfully complete a probationary period. This provides an opportunity to encourage and induct new entrants in the world of teaching and learning, establish and maintain proper professional standards, and develop teachers’practical teaching proficiency. While not all countries require a probationary period, it is increasingly viewed as an essential step prior to confirmation in a teaching career and should be considered a vital part of teacher policy. The normal duration of probation – usually ranging from several months to as much as three years (OECD, 2005) should be laid out in advance, and the conditions for satisfactory completion should be strictly related to professional competence. If a candidate teacher fails to complete the probation period satisfactorily, more professional support should be provided for a second chance, but ultimately a failure to successfully complete probation indicates a lack of suitability for teaching. Procedures should nevertheless be in place to ensure due process for those who want to appeal a negative assessment (ILO/UNESCO, 1966: Art. 39).

Where a probationary period precedes teacher certification, this may be associated with ongoing professional training or a formal induction programme, assessed by a formal examination or by the teacher, demonstrating the teacher meets the standard for certification. In Scotland, for example, the induction process lasts one year and ends with a formal assessment of a ‘Final profile’ submitted by the teacher to demonstrate fulfilment of 23 professional standards (European Commission, 2010: 33; see also Section 3.6 8). Where induction periods are used, the requirements and criteria governing them should be realistic and context- appropriate so they do not add disproportionately to the burden on newly qualified teachers and their supervisors.

Ideally, whether or not probationary periods are used, newly qualified teachers should undergo induction programmes where they can further the knowledge, skills and attitudes developed during initial training, supported by mentors who are experienced teachers. Along with other forms of professional support and mentoring programmes, induction for beginner teachers can enhance job satisfaction, increase the effectiveness of new teachers (as measured by higher learning gains) and improve retention (ILO, 2012: 22; OECD, 2014a: 88). Where there is little or no induction or other professional support, particularly in isolated contexts such as remote or minority language areas, teacher motivation and effectiveness suffer and teacher attrition is more likely (Bennell, 2004; Bennell and Akyeampong, 2007; VSO, 2008).

It is important that induction be regarded as one stage in lifelong learning, building on initial education and feeding into CPD; effective links must exist between the providers and coordinators of these different aspects (European Commission, 2010: 23).

Induction may be school-based (the school is responsible for supporting a new teacher); community-based (teacher unions provide support programmes); municipality- or cluster-based (municipalities or school clusters implement induction programmes); or based on a cooperative approach between schools and teacher education institutions (mentor training or group/individual mentoring organized by the teacher training institution; this approach is most commonly found within formal induction programmes during a probationary period). School clusters – which link a number of schools to promote the professional development of the teachers within the cluster – are a common form of professional development in the developing world, normally led by a co-ordinating school (which can be designated on a rotating basis) that initiates and promotes professional development. Teacher clusters share experiences and problems, and provide professional support. The key issues for clusters are ownership and control over the cluster.

Induction should provide new teachers with personal, social and professional support; it may include mentoring, inputs by expert teachers or teacher educators, peer support and self-reflection (European Commission, 2010: 16–21; ILO, 2012: 245–246). Research has found that successful induction programmes are comprehensive, collaborative and focus on professional learning:

  • Comprehensive: the induction process is ‘highly structured, comprehensive, rigorous and seriously monitored’; the roles of staff developers, administrators, instructors and mentors are well defined
  • Collaborative: the teaching culture is based on collaborative group work; the creation of a group identity is fundamental; new teachers are treated as colleagues, who share experiences, practices, tools and language.
  • Professional learning: seen as one phase in a lifelong professional learning process, inductions focus on the growth, professional learning and professionalism of teachers (European Commission, 2010: 41).

Mentors play a key role in induction programmes and are growing in importance; in Singapore, structured mentoring programmes extend induction and the formative initial years for new teachers for up to two years (OECD, 2014a: 90, 93). Where experienced teachers act as mentors for newly qualified colleagues, criteria for their selection should be clear and based on competency frameworks; there should be adequate support to and training of mentors, their mentoring should be regularly appraised, and they should be given a reduced teaching load and/or incentives, such as a responsibility allowance (UNESCO, 2014a: 244). Where competency criteria are respected, using retired teachers to mentor newly qualified teachers can ensure their valuable experience and expertise are not lost to the education system once they leave teaching.

The absence of induction in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, may be one of the reasons for high attrition rates. Having a mentor from the same field or common planning time or collaboration with other teachers are factors that are most likely to reduce teacher turnover, with “teachers participating in combinations or packages of mentoring and group induction activities [being] less likely to migrate to other schools or leave teaching at the end of their first year” (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004: 706).

Policy-makers may consider a number of key questions when designing an induction programme tailored to the local context:

  • What are the policy aims of the induction programme?
  • Does the policy cover the key aspects of induction?
  • Have all actors been involved in defining the policy?
  • Are the roles and responsibilities of each actor clearly defined?
  • Have all actors received the preparation they need to fulfil their responsibilities?
  • How is the induction process integrated into the continuum of teacher lifelong learning?
  • Have adequate financial and time resources been allocated?
  • What measures can ensure that the policy is implemented consistently?

Box 3.4 contains a checklist for policy-makers.


Aims and objectives

  • In what specific ways could a systematic induction programme benefit learners in your country, and fit in with your national policy goals?
  • What are the expectations of stakeholders? (Minister, beginning teachers, serving teachers, school leaders, teacher educators, local authorities, unions, professional bodies)
  • What will the policy aims of your induction programme be? What concrete measures will you use to measure progress towards these aims?
  • In what ways do you want the induction programme to link to school development, or to the professional development of experienced teachers, teacher trainers and school leaders?


  • What kind of induction programme would fit your goals and national context? E.g,. one that is linked to a probationary period before registration as a teacher, or a non-formal programme? Will it be compulsory for all beginning teachers?
  • What exactly are you looking for in a teacher? Does your country have an explicit statement of the competences that teachers must possess at each stage in their career?
  • In what ways will your induction programme provide personal, social and professional support to all beginning teachers? Which people and institutions will have responsibility?
  • In your context, how can you best provide interlocking systems for: mentoring, peer support, expert support and self-reflection?


  • Have you secured adequate financial support, especially for the training of mentors, and for reduced timetables for beginning teachers and mentors?
  • Do you intend to introduce a pilot programme to test out your ideas?
  • Does each of the stakeholders support the proposed scheme?
  • Is the role of each of the actors (stakeholders) in the proposed scheme clearly stated?
  • Have you put in place adequate structures for communication and cooperation between all relevant stakeholders? Is there a relationship of trust?
  • Have school leaders been adequately trained and supported to create a culture of learning in schools?
  • Have mentors been adequately trained?
  • Does the induction programme build on the curriculum in initial teacher education and prepare for CPD?

Have you an effective system of monitoring, review and quality assurance of the policy and procedures once implemented?

Source: European Commission, 2010: 38–39 (reproduced with permission).

3.2.6 Training in inclusion and equity

Principles of inclusion and equity should characterize all levels of initial teacher education, from the recruitment of trainee teachers to the recruitment of teacher educators, and the content and approach of the training. Initial teacher training curricula should include an explicit focus on training in inclusion and equity, so that trainees learn to teach in ways that are inclusive of all learners, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity and language or membership of minority groups. Teachers should be aware of the mechanisms of exclusion, prejudice and discrimination, and should be enabled to adapt their methods and teaching aids to suit the different learning needs of different groups of learners, including those with special educational needs. Training should include education in citizenship and equity, to ensure effective participation. An equity focus in training would ensure that there are sufficient numbers of teachers who are trained to offer instruction in the home language (UNESCO, 2010d: 186– 87; UNESCO, 2014a: 218, 239, 247).

Training in inclusion and equity in initial teacher education should reflect the national policy for inclusive education. Where such a policy does not already exist, governments should consider developing one, while ensuring coherence with the teacher policy.

3.2.7 CPD

As stated above, teacher education should be ongoing, and last for a teacher’s entire career. Access to good-quality, regular CPD ensures that teachers are effective and motivated, and more up-to-date on subject knowledge, classroom skills and policy changes; the evidence shows clear benefits for increased learning (ILO, 2012: 75; OECD, 2014a: 97, 107). CPD should be aligned with other dimensions of an integrated, holistic teacher policy. Teacher career structures or paths, based on agreed standards defining the core competencies and behaviours a teacher should possess at different stages in their professional development (see Section 3.4 below), may include successfully completing CPD as a criterion for career and salary progression (see Section 3.6 below).

Teacher CPD should be well integrated with, and a continuation of, initial teacher education. Effective CPD should be school-based (to the extent that resources permit effective CPD in schools), practice-focused, integrated with teachers’ everyday work in the classroom and linked to systemic reforms aiming to improve education quality. While CPD can significantly improve student achievement, school systems need to think strategically about its content and delivery, and customize training to the specific needs of different teachers. In-person, on-site coaching is an effective way to deliver advice on classroom practice, and coaching should be the core of any good professional development programme. It should also be tailored to teacher needs, provided in schools and focused on teaching approaches (particularly learner-centred approaches) and skills that teachers can use in the classroom (Schwille et al., 2007; Sayed, 2009; UNESCO, 2014a: 245). Effective CPD should be sufficiently lengthy and ongoing to make an impact on a teacher’s practices – one-shot, short-term cascade training is not an effective form of CPD, particularly if the aim is to change teachers’ pedagogic practices.

Employers should provide a supportive environment for CPD, including ensuring that teachers are granted the necessary time and opportunities for professional development while in school (OECD, 2014a: 107–108). It is important that school-based CPD includes input from outside the teacher’s immediate environment and experience. This might take the form of training courses facilitated by expert teachers at the school or cluster level, distance education courses using paper or electronic materials, or short residential courses in teacher training colleges (ILO, 2012: 77–79). Mentoring by expert teachers, as well as peer mentoring, peer observation and team meetings for lesson preparation and support, are all valuable aspects of school-based CPD (see also Section 3.2.5).

Given their status as professionals, teachers have both the right and the obligation to engage in CPD to develop their professional competencies and keep abreast of developments in their field. This is particularly important in the teaching profession, where views of good practices evolve regularly as new evidence becomes available. The principle of teacher ownership of their own professional development is important if teachers are to be active professionals, with a strong degree of autonomy over their practice in the classroom.

CPD should be available to all teachers, regardless of their level of qualifications and geographical location, so that they teach as ‘reflective practitioners’. In particular, a teacher policy needs to identify creative ways to allow teachers deployed to rural and remote areas access to regular professional development opportunities. Offering attractive CPD options may be part of a package designed to incentivize teachers to accept remote postings for a defined period of time. One aspect of CPD for teachers in remote postings is likely to be the creation of teaching and learning aids using locally available materials. The CPD opportunities offered by new technologies and blended learning are of particular interest to teachers in remote postings, as discussed below.

CPD should be included in education budgets at the national, regional, local or school level, depending on the nature of the education system. A teacher policy should integrate dedicated financing for CPD to avoid education monies being used for other purposes, such as salary shortfalls. An annual CPD allocation per teacher, adjusted for purchasing power parity, including the cost of paying to supply teachers where necessary, may be a strategy to fincance CPD. Box 3.5 indicated a country example.

The provision of CPD should be included in education budgets at the national, regional, local or school level, depending on the nature of the education system.

It is advisable that a teacher policy should integrate dedicated financing for CPD to avoid education monies being used for other purposes such as salary shortfall. An annual CPD allocation per teacher, adjusted for purchasing power parity, may be a strategy to financing CPD and may include the cost of paying for supply teachers where necessary. Box 3.5 indicates a country example.


In 2010, after examining the available evidence, the Children, Schools and Families Committee of the UK House of Commons noted that the impact of professional development on teacher effectiveness is ‘often as much as an extra six months of pupil progress per year.’ The report found that ‘the specification of a minimum level of spending on professional development (as a percentage of the school’s overall budget) would support wider efforts to embed a culture of professional development within the schools workforce’ and recommended that ‘such ring-fencing of funds is put in place at the earliest opportunity.’

For more information: UK parliament, (2010, p47) https://publications.parliament. uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmchilsch/275/275i.pdf

Teaching is a dynamic and constantly changing activity that evolves along with social needs and cultural, economic and technological environments, both global and local. Teachers also evolve throughout their careers: their confidence, teaching style and mastery of both subject matter and teaching techniques will be very different at different times in their professional lives. This is why ongoing professional development plans, integrated with appraisals and personalized professional support, can help teachers plan their professional development, based on their current strengths, weaknesses and needs, as well as on the needs of their school and the wider education system. Indeed, CPD should be systematically tied to appraisals and feedback, based on established standards (OECD, 2013c; see also Section 3.7 below). Education systems with existing school development plans should integrate individual professional development plans within them. In this case, a review of teachers’ individual plans can constitute one element of a school inspection. Supporting teachers in developing individual professional development plans can help them take ownership of and responsibility for their CPD. The plan then becomes the basis of an agreement between teacher and employer that lays out the conditions and responsibilities on both sides: how much time will be made available to the teacher for CPD, both in and outside the school? How will specific courses or other CPD opportunities be funded? What will the employer contribute to the teacher’s CPD? What will the teacher contribute?

Box 3.6 below presents one example of CPD from Japan.


‘Lesson study’ (from the Japanese term jugyokenkyu) is an example of team-based, teacher-led and ongoing CPD,which has existed in Japan for 200 years. The method has been highly successful in Japan and has also been adapted and implemented in other countries. Teachers meet to plan, discuss and improve their teaching practice. This may involve teachers collectively planning a lesson, then observing as a member of the group delivers the lesson to students. Following the lesson, the teachers discuss how the lesson went, how students reacted and what could be improved. The lesson may then be delivered again to a different group of students, incorporating the improvements.

The lesson study includes all the key characteristics of a successful CPD activity: it is based in the classroom and usually linked to school-wide efforts, as all teachers in the school are encouraged to participate. It is participatory, teacher-led, and focuses on discussions about how to improve teaching. It is centred on what students are being taught and how they are learning and is an ongoing process with constant feedback.

Source: International Labour Organization, 2012, p.76 (adapted with permission).

3.2.8 Teacher education and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)

The possibilities offered by ICTs are essential to teacher education for two reasons: on the one hand, these technologies allow teacher training and CPD – both presence-based and delivered through distance training, including through Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs (Fyle, 2013) – to be coordinated and delivered either partly or wholly using electronic tools and media. On the other hand, teachers in the 21st century – where many learners are daily, or at least very regular, users of internet-based technologies – need to be aware of the potentials for ICT-based pedagogy in the classroom and conversant with the use of different educational tools. Evidence from middle- and high-income countries shows that teachers rate such training highly (OECD, 2014a: 107). The need for teachers to be able to support learners in using ICTs does not imply that such tools can replace teachers or substitute for traditional learning. On the contrary, the use of ICTs in the classroom requires thoroughly training teachers to use them and gain the skills to develop applications that are responsive to specific needs and over which they have ownership (IICD, 2007).

ICTs should be taught as a subject and embedded in subject teaching in initial and in-service teacher training (Latchem, 2010). A number of ICT competency frameworks for teachers exist, including the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (UNESCO, 2011). A review of national policies on ICTs and initial teacher education in 31 OECD countries reveals that many countries focus more on using them in continuing education rather than in initial teacher education. The review advocates increased integration of ICTs in initial teacher education, along with a clearer definition of the digital competencies required of teachers. More bottom-up development of national ICT policies and strategies for teacher education is needed, to avoid their being overly prescriptive and to ensure their credibility and ownership by the stakeholders who will implement them. Coherence is needed between the different ICT policies in areas such as curriculum development, teacher competency frameworks, and assessment frameworks and practices (Rizza, 2011: 40). UNESCO Bangkok presents case studies on integrating ICTs into initial teacher education programmes in Australia, China, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam (UNESCO, 2013).Footnote 13 Organizations with extensive experience and evidence on preparing teachers to use ICTs in the classroom include UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning (see Danaher and Umar, 2010, for an extensive review of country experiences and issues in open and distance learning and teacher education), the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia and OECD.

In addition to their use in initial teacher training, ICTs offer many valuable possibilities for CPD for distance teachers. Practising teachers can develop their professional skills and knowledge through exclusively electronic courses, accessed off- or online, or blended learning courses combining some presence-based training with autonomous study using digital materials. As well as facilitating the distribution of teacher education materials, the internet supports self-accessed CPD by allowing teachers to choose materials according to their own needs, aims and preferences, and caters to different learning styles and paces. However, teachers need to learn how to evaluate the available materials and tools critically and to make judicious choices, which usually requires some level of support. The internet also allows teachers to engage and communicate with other teachers and learn from one another within a wide community of practice. Technological developments mean that in many contexts, e-learning is now evolving into ‘m-learning’ (supported by mobile devices and wireless transmission), which offers greater accessibility to teachers in areas that do not currently have access to wired internet, but are covered by mobile phone networks (Mayes and Burgess, 2010).

3.2.9 Training teachers in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Awareness of the unsustainable nature of many aspects of modern lifestyles and practices has prompted ESD, an approach to education based on the principle that education is key to promoting the values, behaviour and lifestyles necessary for a sustainable future. The UNESCO programme on Educating for a Sustainable Future has produced a teacher education programme, ‘Teaching and learning for a sustainable future,’ which aims to place environmental and sustainability issues at the heart of the teaching and learning process and to help learners ‘better understand the world in which they live, addressing the complexity and interconnectedness of problems such as poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, population, health, conflict and human rights that threaten our future’ (UNESCO, 2010b: education/ tlsf/ mods/ theme_gs/ mod0a.html). A teacher policy should include the principles of ESD in teacher training and ensure that other aspects of the policy, such as school governance, are coherent with principles of sustainable development (UNESCO, 2010b).


UNESCO Green schools Asia promotes education as a tool to give educators and students a sense of empowerment is facing environmental challenges, so as to foster engagement with environmental issues in their communities and globally.

In 2012, science teachers from target schools in Banjarmasin were trained to implement ‘action projects’ with their pupils. Their training included environmental issues at local, national and global levels, pedagogical approaches to climate change education, project planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The teachers and their pupils then began to implement their projects in one of five areas: waste, water, forest, energy and biodiversity. The projects included environmental clean-up activities, reforestation, pond cleaning, school recycling and energy saving contests.

3.2.10 Training of school leaders

Successful schools are often led by effective leaders; conversely, schools that are not doing well may have leaders who are struggling. School leaders have a vital role to play in ensuring the effective management of a school. In conjunction with a management team, which may include deputy heads, governors and/or representatives of other stakeholders, they are ultimately responsible for the education delivered within the school, for managing and supporting the teaching and non-teaching staff, and for fostering the material and moral environment of the school. This role requires carefully planned recruitment (see Section 3.1.6) and appropriate support and training, especially for less experienced school leaders and those in rural and remote areas. Training for school leaders should be based on the local context and identified needs; it will likely include management and instructional leadership focusing on managing teachers, including monitoring teachers’ assiduity, time keeping, professionalism and performance; providing teachers with pedagogical support, guidance and counselling; interacting with and orienting learners and their parents; and handling financial and other management issues and school administration (ILO, 2012: 255–257; OECD, 2014a: 80–81; UNESCO, 2014a: 303). Initial training and CPD of school leaders should be based on standards defined within an appropriate competency framework, and linked with an appraisal system (OECD, 2009). Specialized leadership schools have been established in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom to develop and promote standards and provide leadership training (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership – AITSL, 2014; UK National College for Teaching and Leadership, 2014).

3.2.11 Teacher education in post-conflict and post-disaster (PCPD) contexts

Teachers working in PCPD contexts require appropriate training, based on the needs of the specific context in which they are working and reflecting the needs of both learners and teachers. If possible, education authorities should coordinate the design and implementation of teacher education activities; where this is not possible, guidance and coordination may be provided by an inter-agency coordination committee. Because teachers in PCPD contexts may have varying levels of experience and training and may be older learners or community members, they should have access to training in core subject knowledge if needed, as well as in pedagogy and teaching methodologies, including positive discipline and classroom management, learner-centred, participatory approaches and inclusive education with regards to approaches to diversity and discrimination (INEE, 2010: 83–4). Training in the following may also be necessary:

  • Codes of conduct for teachers, including condemnation of gender-based violence against learners
  • Disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention
  • Psychosocial development and support, including for teachers working with children dealing with trauma, and working with displaced communities
  • Principles and perspective of human rights and humanitarian law and how these interface with learners’ needs and the responsibilities of teachers, learners, communities and education authorities
  • Other content appropriate to the context.

3.2.12 Public-private partnerships in teacher education

Although teacher training is often assumed to be the role of the state, under the auspices of ministries of education, there are many instances where non-state actors make an invaluable contribution to teacher training. For example, NGOs may train teachers instead of – or on behalf of – the state: this might occur where state teacher training institutions and programmes are no longer functional (for example, during or following conflicts) or in parallel to state-run initiatives within integrated teacher education programmes. Either scenario requires a clear partnership framework, addressing aspects such as regulation and monitoring.

The existence of diverse teacher education partners, when well regulated and monitored, may contribute to the development of stronger teacher education methodologies and pedagogical methods throughout a national teacher education system. In Mozambique, for example, 11 teacher training colleges run by ADPP Mozambique, a national non-governmental organisation that is a member of the Humana People to People Federation, function alongside a network of state-run teacher training institutions (Humana People to People, 2013). They teach the same curriculum, and trainees take a common examination; the ADPP-run institutions are widely considered to have had a positive impact on the teacher education training methods employed by the state-run institutions.

3.3 Deployment

3.3.1 Deployment strategy

A deployment strategy based on current needs requires reliable, up-to-date information about the characteristics, needs and preferences both of teachers seeking deployment and schools seeking teaching staff. As noted above, the efficient use of well-designed TMIS or EMIS is the most effective way of managing this deployment strategy (for more information, see ILO, 2012: 14–16).

Two basic models of teacher deployment exist:

  • Centrally managed systems coordinated at the national or provincial/state/district level, which assign teachers to vacant posts; and
  • School-based systems, where schools advertise vacant posts and teachers apply for them directly. Schools may also use intermediaries such as teacher recruitment agencies.

The choice of the model will depend on how public services, including education, have historically been organized in a given country. Each model has advantages and disadvantages. One of the negative effects of national or subnational deployment models can be the allocation of teachers to areas where they do not speak the home language, with negative consequences both on their wellbeing and their ability to teach. However, school-based systems may exacerbate existing inequities in teacher deployment, advantaging well-to-do and urban schools.

In theory, centrally managed systems should provide for a more equitable deployment of teachers, in terms of matching the needs of schools with the profiles of teachers seeking a position. In reality, both models result in allocating the more desirable posts – those in (often urban) schools with good performance records – to more experienced, highly qualified teachers. Posts which are less desirable to teachers – for example, in schools in remote rural, ethnic minority or disadvantaged urban areas – tend to be offered to the least qualified or experienced teachers, who may be the least able to cope with them. These posts are also more likely to remain vacant and to experience high turnover rates. Whether teacher deployment is centrally managed or school-based, interaction and communication between the national and local authorities is essential to ensure appropriate quantitative and qualitative deployment of teachers at the local level. Within a school-based system, a national teacher policy may seek to promote greater equality among local areas, so that inequalities are not further accentuated by schools’ selection of teachers.

An effective deployment strategy must find ways of allocating teachers to appropriate posts, balancing the needs of schools and the well-being of teachers. Achieving this ‘fit’ is essential to allow teachers to perform well and ensure their commitment to the post. Developing a deployment strategy is a complex task, which should be linked to career structure, access to CPD and rewards and incentives. As such, it is a key aspect of a teacher policy, and includes financial implications that need to be costed. Financing a deployment strategy is part of the complex process of costing and identifying funding for a teacher policy described in Chapters 4 and 5.

3.3.2 Deployment to rural, remote and difficult urban areas

In an effective deployment strategy, teachers are deployed where they are needed most. A deployment strategy should in particular ensure the provision of teachers in remote rural and difficult urban areas. Such a strategy must engage with the realities and specific needs of schools in these areas; it should identify, recruit and retain teachers who have the necessary skills and commitment to work in those schools and are able to engage with and motivate learners, their parents and the wider community. Several promising strategies allow deploying teachers to such locations:Footnote 14

  • Rewarding service in hard-to-staff schools with accelerated progression along the career and salary path
  • Tying education subsidies to mandatory placements in rural or remote areas
  • Applying fast-track programmes giving teachers identified as future leaders access to Master’s programmes or training in education management after a minimum period of service in a hard-to-staff school
  • Selecting and training students who are motivated to serve in rural or remote areas
  • Training and recruiting students from rural or remote communities
  • Facilitating professional development for rural education workers
  • Providing access to distance CPD, including distance programmes to improve academic or education management qualifications
  • Waiving fees to access distance education programmes
  • Offering study leave
  • Providing smart phones, e-readers or laptops and mobile Internet connections for CPD
  • Providing housing and/or transport
  • Providing real financial incentives that are not cancelled out by other incentives or advantages, and are important enough to motivate change
  • Fostering interaction between urban and rural education workers.

As discussed above, meeting the needs of schools in hard-to-reach areas may also include recruiting and training local teachers, who are likely to be well accepted and integrated in the local community, already speak the home language and are committed to remaining in the school or local area. It should be recognized that these strategies are not mutually exclusive: a deployment strategy may include, for example, employing and training local teachers while simultaneously attracting teachers from other geographical areas by providing significant incentives, thereby fostering diversity and quality in the teaching staff of hard-to-staff schools. Incentive strategies are only effective if they are part of a well-designed and implemented policy that effectively mitigates perverse and unintended consequences.


Countries in the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization have adopted a number of creative incentives to ensure teachers are deployed where they are needed: creation of special teacher positions for very remote areas (such as the mobile teacher programme in the Philippines); award systems or other incentives to attract teachers to under-served communities (housing allowance in Lao PDR, special stipends for some subject areas or funding for projects in Vietnam); education stipends in exchange for agreed postings in remote areas (Indonesia and Lao PDR); awards and prizes (China, Philippines, Vietnam); expanding multi-grade classrooms in small school districts (Lao PDR and Indonesia) :mobile teacher programme (Philippines); local hiring in-service training close to workplaces and simple, transparent information for local-level mangers about deployment (colour-coding scheme in Philippines).

Source: Teacher Task Force, 2011.

Box 3.8 mentions the expansion of multi-grade provision as a strategy for equitable distribution. Multi-grade education is normally a strategy for developing countries to meet education needs in remote rural and farming areas, where there are low population settlements. UIS (2012) data suggest that in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, at least 10% of students study in multi-grade classrooms. In Chad, almost half of all students are taught in such classrooms. Cambodia’s Education Sector Strategic Plan aims to develop training in multi-grade teaching methodology for teachers in remote schools, with priority given to those who already teach multi-grade classes. It also aims to develop an annual action plan on multi-grade teaching in remote areas and those populated by ethnic minority groups (UNESCO, 2014a).

3.3.3 Deployment to initial postings

Deployment of newly qualified teachers to initial postings should be part of an integrated deployment system, and based on the principles of equity and transparency. Such deployment should also ensure that:

  • Newly trained teachers are deployed to schools where they can benefit from support and mentoring from more experienced colleagues
  • Teachers are not deployed to postings where they may be vulnerable, due to their gender, ethnicity or other factors
  • Teachers with disabilities are deployed to postings where the infrastructure allows them to carry out their professional role and access the necessary support and facilities, including medical facilities
  • Teachers with medical conditions, including HIV and AIDS, are deployed to postings with appropriate support and medical facilities.

3.3.4 Deployment and the right to family life

Deployment Footnote 15 should respect the right to family life. People with family responsibilities, in particular with children of and below school age, should be deployed to postings that allow them to carry out these responsibilities. Postings should take into consideration the employment location of teachers’ partners. Where postings are proposed that are not compatible with family life, family relocation packages should be offered, including appropriate accommodation. Teachers who accept postings that do not allow them to live in their family home should be offered travel expenses to allow them to return home regularly.

3.3.5 Managing transfers

Provision should be made for transferring teachers whose personal or professional circumstances change, as far as this is compatible with the staffing needs of schools. Transfers should be managed according to the same principles of equity and transparency that govern deployment, balancing the needs of teachers and schools. The use of EMIS/TMIS can facilitate applications for and management of transfers.Footnote 16

3.4 Career structure/path

The existence of a career structure or path that allows for progression and development over a teacher’s career is crucial to attracting, motivating and retaining teachers, thereby helping to build a teaching force with the necessary knowledge, competencies and attitudes to enhance learning. Fostering career progression ensures that there are experienced and competent teachers who can mentor and train less-experienced teachers. A career structure also impacts on teacher retention, as teachers are motivated by the possibility of progression. While career paths may be seen as costly, they are less costly than providing training for teachers who leave soon after their initial appointment to a teaching post. A career path should provide meaningful rewards and incentives, both financial and non-financial, to motivate teachers to progress. As discussed above, progression along a career path is linked to access to meaningful CPD options. CPD must therefore be aligned to the different roles within the teacher career structure, so that teachers can access systematic professional development that supports their career development.

The career structure should be equitable and allow equal opportunities in career progression; this will be based on effective job classification and clear, transparent, equitable criteria for evolution and for promotions. Career structures should reflect the needs of the education system and the individual context: if, for example, an education system suffers from excessive teacher attrition or a shortage of teachers with the necessary profile to become mentors or school leaders, the career structure should be adapted to respond to these needs (ILO, 2012: 54).

3.4.1 Diversified career development opportunities offering differentiated but equivalent paths

A good teacher career structure that reflects the needs of the education system will be diversified, offering multiple but equivalent career options for teachers.

Horizontal career development opportunities

Until relatively recently, the only way for teachers to progress beyond a certain point in terms of both responsibility and rewards, was too often to leave the classroom for positions in school management, education administration or policy development; this was known as ‘vertical’ career development. Today, a range of options allow ‘horizontal’ career growth, recognizing the need to allow good teachers to continue teaching and use their experience and competencies to benefit other teachers. A horizontal career path will involve several categories, with corresponding salary ranges. Promotion from the first category – that of newly qualified or graduate teacher – to confirmed teacher status may depending on the teacher becoming licensed or obtaining certification. Different education systems have established a series of different categories or levels, with titles such as ‘accomplished teachers’, ‘expert teachers’, ‘leading teachers’, ‘mentor teachers’,‘advanced skills’ or ‘master teachers’. Each category should be associated with a clear competency framework describing the required performance standards and the evidence used to define them (see Section 3.7).

Opportunities for horizontal career development usually include remaining in the classroom as an ‘expert’ or such as curriculum and materials development, colleague support and mentoring, planning and teaching coordination within a given subject area or grade (as head of department or head of year), or ‘advanced skills’ teacher, while taking on responsibilities supporting school leadership. It may also include outside school roles, such as mentoring teachers in a cluster of schools, providing leadership or training to groups of teachers, or contributing to curriculum development or research. In addition to increased salary, such positions may entail additional rewards, such as ‘teaching and learning responsibility payments’, grade and subject coordinator allowances, mentoring allowances, or reduced teaching hours.

Vertical career development opportunities

Vertical career paths typically involve progression to a teaching support role, usually in a management or leadership position. Such paths often include promotion to head teacher or deputy head teacher, school inspector, teacher trainer, education officer at district, regional/provincial or central level, or administrative, management, advisory or planning posts in ministries or departments of education. There are advantages to promoting teachers to vertical career opportunities, provided such promotions are accompanied by the necessary training and support. Teachers who know the reality of the classroom and the school environment are more likely to apply this inside knowledge in their new role; their expectations and management of schools and teachers may therefore be fairer and more realistic. The risk, however, is that their contributions may be limited by existing practices, and that they might be less likely to instigate significant positive change. Whenever teachers are promoted to school leadership positions, they should be formally appointed, receive training in leadership functions and be remunerated for these responsibilities.Footnote 17

Leave terms and access to part-time teaching within a diversified career structure

Giving teachers access to leave and enabling them to teach part-time at various stages in their career is an important component of a diversified career structure. Teachers should be entitled to take leave or perform part-time work so that they may undertake further professional development or training to further their career progression. They should be able to train to move from one level of education to another, for example from ECE to primary teaching (see Sections 2.1.3 and 3.2). Moreover, the flexibility and ability to combine a career with other responsibilities, such as caring for young children, taking on different family responsibilities, or pursuing other personal or professional development plans, is a factor in attracting and retaining individuals to teaching. Such flexibility exceeds statutory leave entitlements, such as maternity leave or sick leave for chronic and debilitating illnesses. It requires a policy to provide for, employ and fund substitute teachers (also known as replacement or supply teachers) to cover for teachers on different types of leave.Footnote 18

A career structure should include a provision for teachers to apply to work part-time at certain stages in their personal and professional lives, with the possibility of returning to full-time work once their circumstances change. Allowing individuals to work part-time or take a period of leave is likely to retain teachers who would otherwise be forced to resign or retire early. Applications for access to leave or part- time work should be considered, taking into consideration the current needs of the school or education system and the possibility of recruiting replacements to cover the leave or part-time work. Such applications should be based on clear, transparent and equitable principles and criteria.

3.5 Teachers’ employment and working conditions

A teacher policy should strive to establish the most conducive working (teaching/learning) environment for motivating individual teachers and the school team to achieve three simultaneous and interacting goals:

  • Produce the highest levels of professional teaching and job satisfaction
  • Focus on core teaching and learning responsibilities
  • Maximize teacher effectiveness, measured by learning achievements or outcomes.

A number of principles should guide policy on education working environments:

  • The work of professional teachers is enhanced by the provision of a supportive working environment in which:
    • Teachers are able to work autonomously
    • Their responsibilities are clearly delineated
    • Management/supervision strikes a balance between respect for teacher autonomy and fulfilment of their responsibilities to learners.
  • Teachers will provide a high level of professional service based on policies they help design, implement and evaluate
  • Teachers are able to foster the best learning environment for students and help achieve the highest learning outcomes if they are provided the time and support to engage in:
    • Collegial activities within the school team
    • Appropriate and regular interaction with students and parents
    • Professional development and other reflective activities as a regular part of their professional activities.

In accordance with international standards, policy on teacher working conditions should be established in consultation or negotiation with teacher union representatives – also a key factor in improving learning quality (ILO/UNESCO, 1966; ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005; UNESCO, 2014a).

Employment and working conditions have a strong impact on the perceived status of the teaching profession, on the profession’s ability to attract and retain high-quality candidates, and on teacher motivation, morale and profession satisfaction (see, for example, Bennell, 2004; Bennell and Akyeampong, 2007; Mulkeen, 2010; Mulkeen and Chen, 2008; VSO, 2002 and 2008; UNESCO, 2010a).The working conditions that affect positively or negatively teachers’ motivation and morale, as well as attraction, retention and commitment, include:

  • Hours of work, workload and work-life balance
  • Class sizes and PTRs
  • School infrastructure
  • Availability and quality of teaching and learning materials
  • Student behaviour and discipline
  • School violence
  • Autonomy and control.

3.5.1 Hours of work, workload and work-life balance

The 1966 Recommendation (Articles 89–93) calls for hours of work to be based on all dimensions of teachers’ work and on personal and family needs. However, in many contexts, teacher contracts are not explicit about exactly the definition of ‘hours of work’. Whether based on a definition of teaching/instructional time, presence at school/work or total expected hours of work by day, week, month or year, a teacher policy should set out teachers’ expected hours of work taking into consideration:Footnote 19

  • Teaching/instructional time as the core teacher responsibility based on numbers of learners and classes
  • Instructional support time based on lesson preparation, student assessment and counselling
  • Professional development time in or out of school, including personal reflection, mentoring, collaborative teaching and learning
  • ‘Administrative’ responsibilities, such as student supervision, record-keeping and other school management tasks
  • Extra-curricular activities, including after-school clubs, school trips and projects
  • Parent/guardian interaction time
  • Specific conditions applying to teaching and learning in rural, remote and disadvantaged areas, including double shifts and multi-grade classes.

In addition to defining teachers’ hours of work, it is within the remit of a teacher policy to define certain principles of classroom teaching, notably in relation to private tutoring, which in some contexts displaces classroom teaching (see UNESCO, 2014a: 271–72 for a discussion of this issue and examples of policy responses from a number of countries).

Where schools function in several shifts owing to insufficient schools or teachers for the school-age population, teachers are often required or choose to undertake multi-shift teaching. Where teacher salaries for single-shift teaching are inadequate, this ‘choice’ is actually a necessity. Multi-shift teaching leads to reduced instructional time for pupils and tired, less committed teachers; it jeopardizes education quality and is one of the factors contributing to low social and professional esteem for teachers in many poorer countries (ILO, 2012; UNESCO, 2010a; VSO, 2008). Policy-makers are encouraged to work towards phasing out multi-shift teaching as soon as possible; furthermore, teachers should not be obliged to teach multiple shifts through financial necessity owing to unacceptably low salaries (see Section 3.6).

A good teacher policy will allow for flexible workloads and time arrangements to meet teacher effectiveness and work-life balance goals, including arrangements favouring younger or older teachers, men and women with family responsibilities, teachers wishing to work part-time or in job-sharing arrangements, and teachers with special health conditions such as HIV status or a disability. Such policies will need to adjust for and, in as much as possible, avoid overly burdening teacher administration/management. They may include provisions for:

  • Flexible working hours — staggered hours and ‘flexitime’
  • Shorter or compressed working hours or weeks, including part-time work
  • Work- and job-sharing
  • Certain types of shift work
  • Individualized working hours, subject to respecting expected workload overall and learner needs (ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005).

3.5.2 Class size and pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs)

Class size is a significant factor in teacher workload and job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Larger classes are associated with lower levels of professional satisfaction in a number of countries (UNESCO, 2010a).

In addition to establishing teacher recruitment needs as a function of desirable PTRs, a teacher policy may establish regulated limits or more flexible indicators for class size as a measure of the real teaching and learning environment. Notwithstanding claims that class size is not an important policy matter for learning success, sufficient evidence supports establishing class size regulations or indicators targeting teacher effectiveness and learning goals, especially:

  • creating learner-centred approaches (which are compromised by excessively large classes)
  • allowing teachers to give pupils maximum individual attention, with provisions as needed for small group or individualized instruction, or larger groups with teaching aide support, including ICT-based methodologies
  • targeting specific groups of learners or education levels, such as disadvantaged learners, dual-language classes, learners with special educational needs, early childhood and early primary learners.

The evidence from research and real-life experiences points to the importance of policies that address the specifics of class size in accordance with country contexts, especially as they pertain to:

  • ensuring equity in class size targets between regions/districts, rural and urban areas
  • providing training and support to help teachers adapt pedagogical methodologies to realize learning gains for smaller class sizes
  • providing training and support for teaching excessively large, double-shift or multi-grade classes.

Because of its implications for teacher recruitment requirements and therefore available resources, as well as the need to maintain quality standards in smaller class sizes, class size policy must take into consideration current, projected and potential education financing (see Section 3.6) (ILO/UNESCO, 1966; ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005; OECD, 2013a; OECD, 2014a; UNESCO, 2014a; UNESCO/OREALC, 2013, World Bank, 2013).

3.5.3 School infrastructure

School infrastructure is a major factor in educational outcomes and teacher satisfaction, motivation and social status. Poor, inadequately maintained school infrastructure and furniture hinders learning and sends negative messages about the value of teachers and education (UNESCO, 2014a; VSO, 2002 and 2008). Teachers should have access to staff rooms or dedicated spaces where they can undertake non-instructional professional tasks, consult with colleagues, and so on. Teachers’ employers have a duty of care to ensure that school buildings are safe and functional for effective teaching and learning and extra-curricular activities, in cooperation with teachers and their representatives. Teachers and other school staff should be consulted on school design and construction.

Schools should meet established sanitary standards. They should have a clean, safe water source and sanitation facilities that are adequate in quality and quantity, including separate, safe toilets for male and female students and male and female teachers, with nearby hand-washing facilities.

Since the school infrastructure necessarily affects the wellbeing and effective development of pupils, teachers and other school employees, it is a matter for wider education policy. However, a teacher policy may set out the principles of teacher consultation in school design and maintenance issues, as well as a safe, hygienic, functional working environment for teachers (see also Section 3.9 on school governance and Section 3.10 on the school environment).

3.5.4 Availability and quality of teaching and learning materials

The availability to teachers of sufficient, good-quality instructional materials and to learners of sufficient, good- quality educational supplies and materials, including text books, is a major factor in teacher satisfaction and motivation, as well as in educational outcomes (UNESCO, 2014a). Teachers should be consulted on the types of teaching and learning materials they will use, and involved in their choice and development (ILO/UNESCO, 1966). In addition to prioritizing the availability of good-quality teaching and learning materials, a teacher policy may promote creative solutions to maximize instructional effectiveness. In low-resource contexts, teacher education – both initial and continuous – can focus on helping teachers deliver effective teaching using the locally available resources, as well as training teachers to produce teaching and learning aids using local materials. Where teachers are expected to create their own teaching aids, this should be reflected in their hours of work.

3.5.5 Student behaviour and discipline

Teacher policy should attempt to address the classroom environment within the measures designed to improve teacher health, safety, job satisfaction and effectiveness, thereby ensuring better learning outcomes. The evidence from high- and middle-income countries has underlined the growing importance of student indiscipline and misbehaviour in classrooms and schools; it points to a major impact of student behavioural issues on teachers’ job satisfaction and sense of self-efficacy. The quality of school governance and management (Section 3.9) is a major factor in creating better school and classroom environments for teachers and learners (ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005; OECD, 2014a; UNESCO/OREALC, 2013).

3.5.6 School violence

In many countries, teaching is a high-risk profession. In recent years, attacks on schools, teachers and pupils have occurred frequently in countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, India, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Thailand and Zimbabwe. Schools and teachers may be attacked for any number of reasons: to prevent education, especially girls’ education, from taking place; to target students, teachers or academics for their views, political activity, support for human rights or involvement in trade union activity; during security or military operations, or as a part of military tactics; to abduct children and adults to join rebel or armed forces; or to provide forced labour or sexual services. Whatever the motives, such attacks ‘involve the deliberate use of force in ways that disrupt and deter provision of or access to education’ (UNESCO, 2010c: 27–28). Such school violence has many consequences for teachers, including:

  • Physical effects on individuals, including loss of life and injury
  • Physical effects on and loss of school buildings, school equipment, and teaching and learning materials
  • The psychological effects of murder, injury, torture and disappearance of students, teachers and staff, including trauma, fear, insecurity, de-motivation and despondency
  • Children who are afraid to go to school, parents who are afraid to send them and teachers who are afraid to go to work
  • Negative effects on teacher recruitment and retention
  • School closures
  • Limiting education’s contribution to economic, political and human development
  • Attacks on education trade unionists deny teachers and their representatives influence on the provision of education, which in turn undermines the quality of the education provided (UNESCO, 2010c: 27–28).

Context-appropriate policies to promote the support and protection of teachers will constitute one element of a policy response to “promote respect for schools and other education institutions as sanctuaries and zones of peace in order to protect the right of education” (UNESCO, 2010c: 36).

Other forms of violence in schools, such as gender-based violence against female pupils and teachers, as well as corporal punishment, are perpetuated by teachers themselves: gender-based violence damages girls’ chances of learning and is a factor in female teachers leaving the profession (UNESCO, 2014a: 266, 269). A teacher policy should feature provisions to make teachers aware of their professional roles and responsibilities and establish penalties for teachers who breach professional conduct codes (as set out also in Section 2.1.4). The policy should refer explicitly to violence against pupils; penalties should reflect legal child rights and protection frameworks, and should be effectively applied (UNESCO, 2014a: 303). In Kenya, new Teacher Service Commission regulations, drafted with support from teachers’ unions, contain provisions for teachers convicted of sexual offences against pupils to be deregistered (UNESCO, 2014a: 269–70) (see Box 3.9).


Working directly with teacher unions is a way to build support for taking action against teachers who violate codes of conduct. In Kenya, the Stop Violence against Girls in School advocacy team collaborated with the Teacher Service Commission, the Ministry of Education, the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Children’s Department to draft a parliamentary bill based on a 2010 Teachers Service Commission circular on sexual abuse. The bill aims to reinforce procedures for reporting incidences of abuse or violence carried out by teachers, and to ensure that convicted teachers are not simply transferred to other schools. The circular states, moreover, that any failure to report or attempt to cover up an incident would lead to disciplinary action. The Union, which previously was often a block to reform, is now reported to be committed to avoiding protection of teachers found guilty of an offence, and a centralized database has been established to track teachers convicted of sexual offences.

Source: UNESCO, 2014a: 270.

3.5.7 Autonomy and control

Teacher professionalism is associated with a ‘bundle’ of factors: high-quality initial and ongoing education; relatively high levels of reward and social status; and a degree of autonomy and control over professional practice for both individual teachers and the profession as a whole. These different elements interact: teacher quality and education must be sufficient to allow for effective teacher autonomy. In Finland, teachers have a high educational, social and professional status and enjoy a high degree of autonomy over their classroom and working conditions, having ‘earned the trust of parents and the wider society by their demonstrated capacity to use professional discretion and judgement in the way they manage their classrooms and respond to the challenges of helping virtually all students become successful learners’ (OECD, 2011b: 11; see also Box 2.3). Conversely, where teachers and their representatives lack influence and control over their working practices and working conditions, they are more likely to feel demotivated, less empowered and less able to produce the best possible outcomes for learners. This, in turn, leads to a vicious circle of low social status, low motivation and morale, and poor professional performance and outcomes. A holistic teacher policy will promote strategies to progressively develop a high-quality teaching profession by promoting the different dimensions of professionalism, including greater autonomy, as part of an integrated approach.

3.5.8 The employment relationship

The relationship between employer and employee is defined by rights and obligations. A teacher policy should lay out the terms of the employment relationship between teachers and their employers. In some cases, this may be included as a separate policy under labour law, in which case the teacher policy should be aligned with such a policy. The teacher policy should define teachers’ rights and responsibilities, which are specific to the country and context. These include provisions and procedures for teacher recruitment and employment, certification, tenure or job security, evaluation/appraisal and dismissal. In many cases, they also include the right to freedom of speech and religion and – where these are not covered by a separate policy – the possibility of belonging to a union and taking part in collective bargaining. The policy may also define instructional rights and responsibilities, such as what can and cannot be taught, academic freedom, methodology, grading policies, use of student records and student safety and well-being (Osborne and Russo, 2011).

3.6 Teacher reward and remuneration

Reward includes the full range of monetary and non-monetary payments provided as compensation for work, typically as a ‘bundle’ of different components. In addition to base pay (basic salary), such rewards as targeted allowances, bonuses and a wide range of financial and non-financial incentives, including pensions and other forms of social security, leave entitlement and access to CPD opportunities, can act as policy levers. A comprehensive teacher policy will foresee all of these factors in relation to teacher recruitment, retention, development, motivation and effectiveness. They form part of the teacher reward policy to a greater or lesser degree depending on national needs and circumstances.

3.6.1 Salary policy

Teacher salary is important to teacher recruitment and retention. From a labour market perspective, education systems that pay attractive salaries relative to comparable professions will prove more successful in attracting and retaining good-quality teachers. Individuals’ decisions to become teachers and enter teacher education programmes are especially influenced by salary levels and professional incentives that together contribute to making teaching a high-status career. A salary policy that values teaching in comparison to other career choices helps attract the best secondary school graduates to the teaching profession. The evidence within the last decade points to salary as a key (although not the only) factor in the success of what are now known as ‘high-performing education systems’(OECD, 2005; OECD, 2013a; World Bank, 2013).

Conversely, where teacher salaries are not perceived as commensurate with the levels of education, training and responsibilities required, or do not allow teachers to live decently without taking second jobs, the teaching profession loses in prestige, with an adverse impact on the three policy concerns of teacher recruitment, motivation and retention. Salaries that do not meet even the basic household poverty line in very low-income countries result in teacher recruitment difficulties, absenteeism and low teacher performance of various kinds (UNESCO, 2014a: 254).

To meet the policy objectives, teacher salary levels should be established in relation to:

  • National income levels – usually measured in GDP per capita
  • Minimum living standards in very poor countries
  • Comparator professions: professions requiring similar qualifications, length of training, knowledge, skills and responsibilities
  • Education authorities’ fiscal or revenue capacity (ILO, 2012: 148–150; UNESCO, 2010a: 2–3).

For many countries, policy that meets the multiple demands of recruitment, retention, motivation and effectiveness will increasingly be placed in the framework of the post-2015 EFA agenda and discussions of cost- effectiveness, entailing in many cases difficult policy choices and trade-offs (GPE, 2014: 152–156, for issues of status and salaries).

In some contexts, this will mean prioritising education funding over other claims on resources. In part because of its proximity to much richer South Africa, Lesotho, one of the poorest countries in the world, spends 13% of its GDP and over 30% of total government expenditure on education to maintain teachers’ salaries at much higher levels than in many comparable African countries – between 3 to 5 times GDP per capita in 2005, but still below other public servant salaries (Mulkeen, 2010; GPE, 2005: 6–7).

Many low-income countries have been advised to limit teacher salaries to a benchmark initially established under the EFA Fast Track Initiative (FTI) at 3.5 times GDP per capita, in order to ensure resources for other teaching and learning needs. Such a benchmark has been a factor in large-scale hiring of contractual teachers (see Section 3.1). If used, it should be adjusted as a function of the country’s GDP – especially in very low-income countries with a small formal-sector economic base – otherwise it may lead to unreasonably low salaries that sometimes below national poverty lines (UNESCO, 2010a: 16; UNESCO, 2014a: 254). Since such a benchmark also does not necessarily take into consideration the comparative salaries of other public or private sector jobs in the country requiring the same level of training and responsibilities, it can be a disincentive for teacher recruitment and retention.

In some countries, higher salary levels may require trade-offs with other policy objectives because of the limits on government revenues. The most obvious trade-off is between salaries and teacher numbers, and the PTRs and class sizes that depend on them. Teaching, instruction time or total required hours of work may also be increased to reduce the required numbers of teachers and create more capacity for higher salaries. In both cases, the potential impact on teaching and learning quality should be weighed before adopting policies that increase class sizes or teaching time – both of which have an impact on teachers’workload (Section 3.5) and may decrease teacher job satisfaction in challenging classroom conditions (OECD, 2013a: 191).

In fact, some high-income countries choose to pay much higher salaries to well-trained teachers and accept relatively higher PTRs and class sizes in exchange. Korea, Japan and Singapore are high-income countries with average class sizes in secondary education that exceed thirty learners per class and slightly less in primary education, but still well above the OECD average. These countries pay their teachers considerably more than the GDP per capita or the average salaries earned by education graduates in comparable public or private sector jobs (OECD, 2013a: 45; OECD, 2014b: 411, 454).

Middle-income Indonesia, on the other hand, has chosen in recent years to emphasize salary increases for civil servant teachers as part of a greater professionalisation of teaching, while at the same time keeping PTRs relatively low, partly thanks to the large-scale hiring of contract teachers. Like civil servant teachers, these contract teachers are also expected to benefit eventually from employment, salaries and professionalisation measures (Chang et al., 2014; UNESCO, 2014a).

Those countries that already have very large PTRs and class sizes, particularly in primary schools, while at the same time struggling to achieve UPE and EFA and facing large-scale teacher shortages, will face difficulties in choosing this type of trade-off as part of a teacher policy. An alternative to massively recruiting lower-paid contract teachers while maintaining salaries at a level sufficient to attract and retain good teachers might be to expand and diversify the funding sources for education. Many countries with low salaries and recruitment/retention difficulties have relatively low levels of funding for education as a percentage of GDP or GNP. Only 41 countries in the world devote at least 6% of their GNP to education, which is the recommended goal for achieving EFA. Despite significant increases since 2000 in the low-income group as a whole, 25 of these countries dedicate less than 3% of GNP to education; some actually decrease funding even further. A substantial increase in those countries not yet reaching the 6% goal would permit allocating a greater share of the budget to education, which would in turn provide more funds for hiring and paying reasonable salaries to the teachers needed to meet shortages (UNESCO, 2014a: 24, 110–113).

Policy choices are also more difficult for countries that substantially depend on international aid for their education funding. Long-term funding commitments from international donors are necessary to supplement national government commitment to prioritize education funding, including teacher salaries. There is also a need for policy dialogue and coherence among all partners and education funders. Despite the principles of aid effectiveness – which promote aligning donor funding mechanisms with strategic targets in the education sector - donors favour supporting projects over supporting budgets, due to the absence of reliable medium-term budget frameworks and fears of financial mismanagement (Steiner-Khamsi, et al., 2008: 43, 46; OECD 2005/2008). Combined with a reluctance to support recurrent costs (such as teacher salaries) and cutbacks in aid to education in recent years, this means other sources of funding need to be found at the same time that pressure is applied on major donors to honour previous commitments (UNESCO, 2014a: 127–133).

A number of ways have been suggested for ‘creating fiscal space’ to make increased resources available to fund teachers’salaries. These include:Footnote 20

  • Increasing revenue through better tax collection, and reduced exemptions and tax evasion
  • Diversifying the tax base to include large corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector
  • Reprioritising spending within government budgets towards education and away from relatively non- productive budget lines such as military spending
  • Relaxing restrictive international practices on responsible government borrowing
  • Aligning donor aid policies for macro-economic stability with recurrent education expenditures such as teacher salaries.

3.6.2 Teacher salary scales

Many countries use a single salary scale, featuring classes or bands based on academic qualification and incremental salary progression within these, based on seniority or years of service. They are increasingly using skill or performance levels, based on standards defined in competency frameworks, as a basis for salary increases (see Section 3.7). Typically, regular incremental increases within such salary scales are based on years of experience, whereas larger increases are associated with movement up the skill levels defined by the career structure – for example, from newly qualified teacher to professional licence holder, then accomplished teacher, then expert teacher (or whatever terms are used in a particular career structure, as described in Section 3.4).Footnote 21

In many countries, it is not possible to make changes to the civil service teacher salary scale without extending these to all civil servants.

3.6.3 Other financial incentives

In addition to base pay or basic salary – which may include retirement pension and social security provisions (including medical care and sickness benefits, employment injury and invalidity benefits, and retirement and survivors’ benefits) – other financial incentives comprising teacher reward packages include allowances for particular responsibilities, incentives to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools, family benefits, housing provision or subsidies, transport subsidies and financial contributions towards further training and CPD.Footnote 22

As discussed, financial incentives may be used to attract teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools, such as schools in remote rural and disadvantaged areas. These incentives might include hardship allowances; housing allowances or the provision of good-quality houses; removal and transport costs; and either scholarships for teacher training in exchange for a commitment to serve in hard-to-staff schools or scholarships to study for higher-level qualification once in post.

3.6.4 Other non-financial incentives

Non-financial incentives include various leave (including study leave) provisions, enhanced promotion opportunities, access to different types of CPD, provision of smart phones, e-readers or laptops with internet connections for CPD, and housing.Footnote 23

Financial and non-financial incentives should be part of a holistic strategy (including career progression) to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools.

3.6.5 Performance pay

Some countries or education systems link teacher rewards with performance, in the form of additional salary or bonuses (in the past and in some countries, often referred to as ‘merit pay’). Such plans may aim to attract and retain high-quality teachers, as well as to encourage motivation and effort to improve learning outcomes. As the evidence base is inconclusive (OECD, 2012), policy developers will want to carefully consider the arguments for and against performance-related schemes, the experiences of systems where they have been implemented, as well as their objectives and design, before incorporating them in a teacher policy.

The arguments in favour put forward research evidence that performance pay has been effective in raising teacher and student performance. The World Bank (2013: 34–35) cites a number of studies in high- and middle-income countries to support this finding; see also OECD (2012: 1, 4). Tying compensation directly to teacher assiduity and pupil outcomes is perceived as resulting in reduced teacher absenteeism and greater teacher instruction effort, indicators seen as major contributors to the learning progress. Such progress is almost always measured by standardized test results in the advocates’ studies. Other proponents suggest that, when applied within school-based programmes, performance-related incentives reinforce the teamwork ethos, and where based on teacher appraisal, motivation is reinforced by reward, thus combining both professional rewards (satisfaction with students’ progress) and financial ones (more income). These arguments and the evidence they cite strongly associate performance pay incentives with key education objectives.

The arguments against these schemes put forward research indicating there is little evidence of improvements in education or learning from performance-related pay (ILO, 2012: 166–168 cites studies and case studies from a range of countries – mostly high-income; see also OECD, 2012: 1, 4). Opponents argue that there is much evidence of negative impacts, such as reinforcing disparities among schools, thereby making it harder for disadvantaged schools to attract the teachers they need. Teachers working in such plans tend to ‘teach to the test’, to ensure that learners perform well on standardized tests, thus narrowing the skills and knowledge acquired. Performance pay schemes may fail to account for factors over which teachers have no control (such as poverty, language, parental engagement and the impact of previous teachers) that affect learning. Any such plan based on objective-setting and performance management is complex and requires time, skills and training that can overburden school managers. When based only on rewarding individuals, performance pay undermines teamwork as a factor in learning progress and good schools, as well as individual teacher motivation when a plan is perceived as unfair. These arguments are based on evidence that performance pay incentives fundamentally work against key education objectives.

When performance-related incentives are used more frequently, the evidence gathered in recent years suggests that the way in which they are applied makes a significant difference in achieving education goals. Key factors to consider are the methods of teacher appraisal as the basis for rewards; the size of the incentives and their financial sustainability over time; the close connection between expected behaviour and rewards; and the level of awards, either for the individual teacher, group of teachers or the school as a whole (see Harris, 2007; Ingvarson et al., 2007; World Bank, 2013, citing a range of studies). The overall salary system also plays a role. As an example, the high- and middle-income OECD member countries use a variety of reward plans for outstanding teacher performance, including positioning on the base salary scale and supplemental and incremental (step or grade) payments. Student performance is generally better when performance pay systems are in place in countries with comparatively low teacher salaries (less than 15% above GDP per capita) and lower in countries with relatively well-paid teachers (more than 15% above GDP per capita) (OECD, 2012: 2–3).

Human resource management policy suggests that a performance pay plan in teacher policy needs to answer the following questions:

  • Whose performance is being assessed: individual teachers, a team or group of teachers, or all of the school’s employees?
  • How performance is to be measured and evaluated: by outputs (the achievement of individual or group learning targets, for example) or inputs (teacher skills, knowledge and behaviour)?
  • How performance is to be rewarded: assessment of individual or group performance, by whose judgement and on what criteria? (Kessler, 2005)

The administrative principles to follow to ensure successful performance pay include equity and transparency in application, diverse and relevant criteria, good communication, wide teacher understanding of the system and professional support to teachers whose performance does not meet the standards, up to the point where such support is no longer helpful (see also Section 3.9).

In sum, where the teaching and learning needs, management capacity and available resources suggest that performance pay could be useful and feasible, policy developers may wish to consider the following issues (ILO, 2012: 166, citing several pay specialists):

  • Performance indicators: are they limited to very narrow, measurable indicators of student achievement by means of standardized tests in core subjects, or do they encompass a broader array of learning objectives, such as creativity or the capacity to reason or solve problems?
  • Measuring progress: will success be determined by standardized tests or a more diversified array of measurements, such as student learning profiles and teacher evaluation results (peer, school supervisor or external assessors)? Is measurement based on progress from year to year in comparison with a desired benchmark or on a value-added definition? What weight is to be given to the contributions of teaching support staff in achieving learning improvements? Is the data used sufficient and reliable, particularly over time, as a basis for reward decisions?
  • Adjusting for external factors: have the measurement instruments taken into consideration factors outside the school, such as poverty and disadvantaged learners, parent roles and differences in funding between schools or school systems?
  • Eligibility and funding: will all teachers/staff be eligible? Will the plan focus on individual performance, whole-school performance or both? How large will the reward be in relation to other compensation? Are funds for the rewards sustainable over time?

A final crucial consideration for all teacher policy work is to enhance acceptance and cooperation and ensure the success of any performance pay plan by involving the teachers and their representative unions/associations in its design and application through social dialogue (ILO/ UNESCO, 1966: Art. 124). Many, if not most, schemes fail if they choose to ignore this principle.

3.7 Teacher standards

In an effort to understand and define what makes a good teacher and promote teacher competency and professionalism, with the overall aim of improving education quality and learner outcomes, an increasing number of countries are developing professional standards for teachers (hereinafter referred to as standards). While different concepts of ‘standards’ exist, this Guide defines standards as expectations about teacher knowledge, competences and attributes and the desirable level of performance (performance standards). It is generally agreed that standards should describe clearly and concisely what constitutes good teaching in a particular context, and what teachers need to know and be able to do to implement such good teaching.

Setting standards for teachers can serve multiple purposes:

  • Developing a shared understanding, as well as a common goal and language, regarding quality teaching among teachers, other education professionals and the public
  • Providing a framework to guide teachers’ professional learning and development
  • Providing a clear and fair framework for professional accountability
  • Providing a framework to improve consistency and coherence of teacher policies (including but not limited to teacher education, selection, promotion, reward and development)
  • Contributing to professionalisation and raising teaching profession status.

3.7.1 Structure and content of standards

Most current standards documents are generic, in that they are common to teachers of most levels and subjects – with some notable exceptions like Chile, which has elaborated specific standards for primary teachers and specialist teachers in secondary schools (Ingvarson, 2012).

Some standards frameworks define two to four different attainment levels, based on core competences and teacher career stages. These levels include standards for provisional registration (graduate, entry level, emerging and beginning teachers), full registration (proficient teachers), accomplished teachers (experienced and advanced) and lead teachers (distinguished).

Standards frameworks typically have several levels, from general to specific statements (see Table 3.1). However, not all standards frameworks contain all levels, and they may also differ in matters of detail.

Level 1 PrinciplesGuiding vision of quality learning and teachers’ work
Level 2 DomainsOrganising categories for the teaching standards
Level 3 StandardsDescriptions of what teachers should know and be able to do within each domain
Level 4 ElaborationsElaboration of what the standards mean for particular fields of teaching
Source: Ingvarson, 2012, p11 (reproduced with permission).

Level 1 Principles

Many standards documents contain vision statements that describe good teaching in the context. For example, the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards (USA) describe‘a new vision of teaching for improved student achievement’ (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2011).

Level 2 Domains

Many country frameworks organize their standards into several domains, as seen in Table 3.2.

CountryDomain 1Domain 2Domain 3Domain 4
AustrailiaProfessional knowledgeProfessional practiceProfessional engagement
ScotlandProfessional values and personal commitmentProfessional knowledge and UnderstandingProfessional skills and abilities
SingaporeProfessional practiceLeadership and managementPersonal effectiveness
InTASC (USA)The learner and learningContent knowledgeInstructional practiceProfessional responsibility
Quebec (Canada)FoundationsTeaching ActSocial and educational contextProfessional identity
Danielson’s Framework for teachingFootnote 24Planning and preparationThe classroom environmentInstructionProfessional responsibilities

Level 3 Standards

Standards are generally expressed either in clear and concise statements or in sets of short titles accompanied by their descriptions. They usually name all the key dimensions of teacher knowledge and practice valued by an education system. Most standards frameworks contain similar elements, such as strong subject-matter knowledge, pedagogical skills, knowledge about learners, skills to plan instruction, assess student learning and manage the learning environment, and the capacity to continue developing. Australia’s standards (Table 3.3) are an example of a very concise set of standards.

Professional knowledge
  • Know students and how they learn
  • Know the content and how to teach it
Professional practice
  • Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
  • Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
  • Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
Professional engagement
  • Engage in professional learning
  • Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
Source: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), 2014 ( australian-professional-standards-for-teachers).

Level 4 Elaboration

To translate a standard into observable performances, the general statements must be elaborated further, so that they are specific enough to be operationalized. The Qatar standards framework provides a clear illustration of standards and the level of elaboration (Figure 3.1).PDF

Source: reproduced with permission from the Education Institute, 2007 ( En/ SECInstitutes/ EducationInstitute/ Offices/ Documents/ NPSTSLE.pdf)

3.7.2 Use of standards

Some countries may develop standards for a specific purpose, while others may use them as a framework for multiple purposes. For example, Australia’s National Professional Standards for Teachers describe core competences, along with performance levels set for four professional career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead (AITSL, 2014).

In some contexts, standards are used to stimulate teachers’ professional learning and improve the quality of teaching. In those cases, the education authorities must give serious thought to motivating and supporting teachers to meet the standards. Placing additional responsibilities on already overloaded teachers without any support is likely to have no effect, or possibly a detrimental effect.

Well-defined standards can provide a systematic and useful framework for teacher development, including CPD, as well as mentoring for teachers who need additional assistance, formative assessment that provides feedback to teachers, Footnote 25 diagnostic self-assessment and self-learning tools. The AITSL website provides a broad range of tools and resources that support teachers’ professional learning.

Countries that set standards for novice teachers should ensure that pre-service education and induction settings are adequate. This may require revising the curriculum of teacher preparation courses. If a country has an accreditation system for teacher education institutions/programmes or other regulations, the assessment criteria should be aligned with the standards. The standards may also provide a reference point for setting criteria for selecting the individuals who will enter teacher preparation programmes.

Standards for performance-based assessments can also be used for management and accountability purposesFootnote 26. These types of assessments hold teachers accountable for their performance, and require well-designed, valid and comparable assessment tools, as well as assessors trained to ensure fairness of judgement.

3.7.3 Standards for head teachers

In addition to standards for teachers, some countries have developed standards for head teachers. The key purposes for establishing such standards are:

  1. Specifying the function of head teachers
  2. guiding professional development
  3. defining criteria for assessment
  4. guiding the selection of principals

(CEPPE, 2013).

Although standards vary significantly in their structure, standards for head teachers are developed similarly as standards for teachers, as described above.

3.7.4 Key conditions for successful implementation

Explicit link to student learning objectives

Most importantly, standards for teachers and head teachers must align with the education system’s student learning objectives, as the ultimate aim of a standards framework is to improve the quality of learning opportunities for students in schools (OECD, 2005).

Standards frameworks aligned to a comprehensive strategy to improve teaching

Coherent policies and systems that continuously support teacher improvement throughout all career stages are crucial. Without a well-articulated strategy, teacher policies in different domains may be poorly connected, fragmented and incoherent, thereby undermining the effective improvement of the teaching profession. Darling-Hammond (2012b) suggests several key elements for such a systematic approach:

  • Common standards for teaching that are related to meaningful student learning
  • Performance assessments based on these standards that guide authority functions such as teacher preparation and licensing
  • Various on-the-job assessments of practice aligned on the same standards
  • Support structures to guarantee these mechanisms, including trained evaluators, mentoring for teachers
  • Aligned professional learning opportunities that support teachers.

In effective systems, standards frameworks must form an integral part of a holistic strategy to improve teacher quality.

Teachers’ ownership and broad agreement

Teacher participation and/or leadership is essential in setting standards. Teachers are ultimately responsible for both applying the standards in their practice and investing in their own professional development aligned with such standards (Asia Society, 2013; Hayes, 2006; OECD, 2013b). Just as many professional bodies in other professions such as medicine, engineering and law – assume responsibility for defining and maintaining high standards, teaching councils should provide a space for profession-led standard-setting and quality assurance.

Evaluation and revision of standards

Standards require continuous evaluation and research. Some common questions are whether standards actually identify good teachers, and whether they are applicable to different levels (Darling-Hammond, 2001). The growing body of knowledge and experience about teachers and teaching, and the changing role of teachers in different contexts, suggest a need to keep standards under constant review.

Dangers of managerialism

Education authorities must guard vigilantly against the use of standards as a tool to reduce and limit the teaching profession to what can be audited and measured. Standards should not militate against the use of diverse approaches, simplify complexities of practice, or ignore the profoundly social and contextual dimensions of teaching (Darling-Hammond, 2001). When standards are used as top-down, ‘managerialistic’ measure, rather than as a profession-owned instrument, they can constrain teaching practice and result in superficial compliance, rather than meaningful pedagogic changes.

Balance central guidance and local autonomy

The implementation of national standards and assessment systems must fit the country’s specific governance context. In countries where decentralized education systems allow greater autonomy for individual schools and teachers, it may be counterproductive to introduce national standards and standards-based assessment systems. For example, Finland does not have national standards or a teacher assessment system. Instead, head teachers are seen as leaders in quality management; principals and teachers have annual ‘development conversations’, and most teachers have individual development plans aligned with the school development plan. Some countries have national standards, but incorporate considerable flexibility at implementation stages. Countries need to consider the best balance between central guidance and local flexibility to fit the national context, ensuring consistency and accountability (OECD, 2013b).

3.8 Teacher accountability

3.8.1 Accountability, performance and quality

The principle that teachers are accountable for their performance and the quality of their teaching is key to ensuring a high status of the teaching profession and enhancing learning. The reciprocal principle is that education systems should be accountable to teachers, in terms of providing effective support and acceptable working conditions. This is an important point, as teachers do not have control over many of the factors affecting their own performance and that of their students. While a teacher policy should emphasize accountability, this should be part of a wider policy to improve teaching and education. It is essential that public and political calls for teacher accountability do not translate into blaming teachers for all of the problems in an education system.

3.8.2 Performance evaluation and appraisal

It is good practice for teachers – as for all employees – to undergo regular appraisal to evaluate their performance and inform their professional development. Appraisals can also be used to measure individual teachers’ progress against their professional development plan: indeed, appraisals and feedback should be closely tied with CPD (OECD, 2013c; also see Section 3.2 above). As noted above, appraisals or performance-based assessments are likely to be based on standards frameworks. Teacher appraisal should be formative; focusing on improving professional practice; linked to school-wide evaluation, strategy and goals; and based on holistic criteria, including specific aspects of the school context.

The objectives of appraisals should be clear and shared by all concerned; in particular, appraisals should be transparent, equitable and fair, and should balance the need for improvement with positive feedback. Moreover, whether the appraisal is being used for accountability or improvement – or possibly both – should be made clear. However, combining the two functions poses risks, as it can lead to teachers hiding their weaknesses, rather than using the appraisal as an opportunity to discuss strategies for overcoming them.

Performance evaluation and appraisal is tied to assessing teacher under/poor performance. For poor performance related to curriculum instruction, the same principles pertaining to performance evaluation – namely, fairness and transparency – apply. However, the legal route to performance evaluation should be used as a last measure. Good performance evaluation measures, rooted in a culture of continuous improvement and reflective practice should identify teaching weakness at an early stage and put in place measures for improvement. Only when such measures fail should more formal procedures to remove under performing teachers be taken.

The General Teaching Council of Scotland Framework (2012), which features support for under-performing teachers as a key component of an improvement strategy, provides a useful summary of dealing with under-performance (Figure 3.2).(PDF)

Source: reproduced with premission from the General Teaching Council, Scotland, 2012 ( education/ policiesprocedures/ documents/ Framework%20on%20Teachers%20Competence.pdf).

3.8.3 Performance evaluation and incentives

As discussed in Section 3.7.5 above, performance evaluation may be linked with incentives, which may be financial or non-financial rewards, such as access to professional development or study leave. Where performance-related incentives are used, the criteria for administering them must be equitable, transparent and credible, and the individuals responsible for applying them must be well trained and able to use them consistently and fairly. Poorly administrated and unfair performance evaluations based on subjective criteria, patronage or favouritism can be a major source of demotivation. Where teachers’ performance is found not to meet the standards, they should be given clear, constructive feedback explaining which aspects of their performance need to be improved, and how, and offered support in achieving this.

3.8.4 Quality assurance

Regular monitoring and assessment of teaching by qualified, supportive colleagues can support teachers in using appropriate methods and practices and foster their professional development, thus contributing to overall education quality. Teacher assessment should include supporting teachers to identify whether student are achieving the desired learning outcomes and implement appropriate remedial action where necessary. In many countries, teacher assessments are undertaken by inspectors, members of specialist inspectorates attached to regional education authorities, or under the auspices of national education departments or ministries. Since these external inspectors may be feared and mistrusted by teachers, their visits can disrupt school routines and be a major source of teacher anxiety and stress. Where external inspectorates are used, inspectors should be recruited according to well-designed competence frameworks, ensuring that they have the knowledge, competences and attributes to assess and support teachers. Furthermore, inspectors should use unambiguous and inclusive assessment frameworks in a consistent, objective and equitable manner. They should receive training, particularly with regard to equity, non-discrimination and avoiding bias. Inspections should be constructive rather than punitive, focusing on providing formative feedback to inform continuous improvement.Footnote 27

A growing trend is a move away from external inspections and towards more collegial, flexible and school-based systems of teacher evaluation (ILO, 2012: 94). Fellow teachers, head teachers, school management bodies, school councils or boards of governors and learners can all play a part in teacher evaluation, which can also include self-assessment. Where these methods are used, those responsible for assessing teachers should also receive training to undertake consistent, objective, equitable and constructive assessment.

A teacher policy should also provide for evaluating the performance of school leaders, determine the frequency and method of evaluation, and establish clear and transparent evaluation criteria. Appraisal systems for school leaders will include gathering feedback on their performance from the teachers and other individuals they manage, as well as from their own managers. The evaluation criteria will be aligned and integrated with national education policy and priorities; they may include criteria such as student learning outcomes; student care; teacher management and supervision; and teacher satisfaction and retention. Evaluation and appraisal systems should be integrated with CPD and other opportunities for career development. The people responsible for evaluating the performance of school leaders should be properly trained. The evaluation process ‘should not become a pro-forma, box ticking exercise and should be discerning enough to understand underlying behaviour patterns which have come about as a result of effective management’ (ILO, 2012: 45).

3.9 School governance

School governance has been identified as a crucial factor in both teacher motivation (and therefore teacher morale, performance and retention) and learner performance and education outcomes (Hightower et al., 2011; UNESCO, 2014a). Examples of the consequences of poor school governance impacting negatively on learners include: teacher absenteeism and poor time-keeping; teachers offering uncontrolled private tuition as an alternative to carrying out their basic teaching duties, in order to supplement their income; and gender-based violence and other unprofessional behaviours. The 2013/14 EFA Global Monitoring Report reinforces the integration between school governance and the other teacher management dimensions presented in this chapter by identifying four strategies to improve governance: attract the best teachers; improve teacher education so all children can learn; get teachers where they are most needed; and provide incentives to retain the best teachers (UNESCO, 2014a: 266). Other keys to promoting governance include training school leadership and other stakeholders and holding them responsible for playing their roles effectively, and ensuring all those evolved in establishing and maintaining the material and cultural school environment recognize the key function this plays in promoting effective teaching and learning.

3.9.1 School leadership

The role of leadership in creating successful schools and promoting teacher governance is well documented (see, for example, Pont, Nusche, and Moorman, 2008; Hightower et al., 2011; UNESCO,2014a). Although there is increasing awareness of the need for effective recruitment and training of school leaders or principals (see Sections 3.1 and 3.2), many countries still lack strategies for identifying and preparing school leaders, who tend to be promoted from within the teaching staff and are expected to manage a school and its resources, both material and human, with little or poor preparation.

As explained in Section 3.2, school leaders are ultimately responsible for the education learners receive within the school, both directly in the classroom and indirectly in the communal areas of school assemblies and recreation grounds. They are also responsible for managing and supporting teaching and non-teaching staff, including monitoring teacher attendance and punctuality, as well as the material and moral environment of the school. The roles and responsibilities of school leaders include mentoring, supporting and counselling teachers; guiding learners; communicating and liaising with parents and guardians; managing the school finances and other administrative functions; and setting the tone, culture and ethos of the school. A teacher policy must enable head teachers to play this crucial role, with provisions to: identify, recruit and retain motivated, talented school leaders (see Section 3.1.6); ensure appropriate training (initial and CPD) for school leaders (see Section 3.2.10); and conduct regular evaluations/appraisals of school leaders (see Section 3.8.4).

3.9.2 Roles and responsibilities of other stakeholders

Other groups and stakeholders also have an important role to play in school governance. These include parents; school governors; PTAs; community members and leaders; local education officials; teaching staff; and non-teaching staff, such as administrators, caretakers or janitors, maintenance staff and gardeners. Anyone who works at the school regularly or comes into the school – for example as a volunteer assisting with school activities, such as sports or school meals – has a role to play in setting and reinforcing the school’s culture and ethos. All these individuals should ensure that their behaviour conforms to the highest standards, that they set a good example to learners, and do not harm learners, teachers or other staff in any way. The head teacher and deputy head teacher are responsible for communicating and enforcing these rules and standards; they should be supported in this by members, particularly the head of the school council or governing body.

3.9.3 The school environment

The school leadership, in partnership with other stakeholders, is responsible for creating and maintaining a school environment that is safe, fit for purpose and able to promote good-quality education. The school environment includes both the physical/material environment and the cultural environment.

The material environment

Creating and maintaining an effective material school environment includes managing and maintaining infrastructure and school furniture, and ensuring the school is kept clean, hygienic and free of litter, pollution and hazards. Toilets should be safe, so that learners (particularly girls) can use them with confidence and without fear; paper and water for hand-washing should be available. Creating and managing an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning includes ensuring that the school is free from excessive noise and is as aesthetically pleasant as possible. Schools where learners’ school and art work is prominently displayed give learners, parents and visitors the message that this work is important and valued. An effective school environment is learner-friendly, girl-friendly and teacher-friendly, so as to enhance the motivation and performance of learners and teachers (see the discussion of the interaction between working conditions and teacher motivation and performance in Section 3.5). Responsibility for maintaining such an environment lies with all those who use it, but is the ultimate responsibility of the school leadership.

The cultural environment

Equally important and linked to the school’s material environment is the prevailing cultural environment. A school should be a space where learning is valued and learners and teachers feel supported and appreciated. It should be imbued with the values of tolerance, inclusion and equity at all levels and in all activities. Any vulnerable group should be protected, and the school should promote an active culture of equality. Creating a cultural environment in which learners learn to live in society and treat one another and their teachers with respect requires strong leadership, which is the responsibility of the head teacher.

This chapter has presented and discussed several different but interrelated dimensions that should underpin a holistic, integrated teacher policy. Figure 3.3 illustrates some of the main issues or problems, discussed in this chapter, that a teacher policy may seek to address. It illustrates that effective teacher policy-making and programmes depend on the relationship of key variables within the education and teacher education environments, factoring in the global as well as the national political, economic, social and cultural contexts.(PDF)

Source: Australian Government, Office of Development Effectiveness, 2013 (reproduced with permission).

The next chapter examines the process of developing such a policy.

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  1. 8 For more information see ILO, 2012; UNESCO, 2010a.Back to main text


  1. 9 DEA, 2011: 26; ILO/UNESCO, 1966.6Back to main text


  1. 10 ILO, 2012: 9–11; ILO/UNESCO, 1966: Art. 7; UNESCO, 2014a: 234–236.Back to main text


  1. 11 Sources and additional information: ILO, 2012: 231–237; Moon, 2013: 16–18; UNESCO,2010a: 52–54; UNESCO, 2014a: 233–235; World Bank, 2013: 14, 28Back to main text


  1. 12 Sources and additional information: ILO, 2012: 240–242; Moon, 2013: 11–14; OECD, 2014a: 6–7; Naylor and Sayed, 2014: 9–10; UNESCO, 2010a: 236; UNESCO, 2014a; World Bank, 2013: 14–15, 28Back to main text


  1. 13 The space available does not allow a complete review of the issues.Back to main text


  1. 14 For more information, see “Deployment to rural and remote areas for all teachers”(ILO, 2012) and “Teacher deployment” (UNESCO, 2010a, 67–74).Back to main text


  1. 15 For more information, see “Placement criteria for first assignments” (ILO, 2012).Back to main text


  1. 16 For more information see ILO, 2012: “Transfer criteria” (pp. 27-28) and “Management of deployment and transfers”(pp. 28).Back to main text


  1. 17 For more information, see ILO, 2012:“Career diversification and job classification” (pp. 54-61).Back to main text


  1. 18 For more information see “Diversified career structure and leave terms for specific groups of teachers” (ILO, 2012: 63-71);“Leave terms” (ILO, 2012: 71-74); and “Study and professional development” (ILO, 2012: 75-79).Back to main text


  1. 19 European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2013; ILO, 2012; ILO/UNESCO, 1966; UNESCO, 2014a.Back to main text


  1. 20 Action Aid, 2007; UNESCO, 2014a. For more information, see “Remuneration, incentives and benefits” (UNESCO, 2010a: 90-100); “Cost of achieving UPE — domestic/external funding sources for teachers” (UNESCO, 2010a: 105-107).Back to main text


  1. 21 For more information and a more detailed discussion of salary scales, including an example, see “Salary criteria and scales” (ILO, 2012: 153-162); “Salary scales” (UNESCO 2010a: 100-103).Back to main text


  1. 22 For more information, see “Material incentives/bonuses for rural and disadvantages areas” (ILO, 2012: 172-173) and “Module 6: Social security” (ILO, 2012: 181-197).Back to main text


  1. 23 For more information see “Non-material incentives for rural and disadvantaged areas” (ILO, 2012: 197-74).Back to main text


  1. 24 Danielson’s Framework for Teaching has influenced a number of teacher evaluation systems around the world (OECD, 2013b).Back to main text


  1. 25 For more information, see ‘Teacher evaluation, assessment and feedback’ (ILO, 2012: 89-97).Back to main text
  2. 26 For more information, see ‘Teacher evaluation, assessment and feedback’ (ILO, 2012: 89-97).Back to main text


  1. 27 For more information, see ‘Teacher evaluation, assessment and feedback’ (ILO, 2012: 89-97).Back to main text