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.

3.2.1 Initial teacher education

3.2.3 Content, curricula and school based teaching practice