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Improving the quality of teacher education
The Commission is taking stock of the situation regarding the training of teachers within the European Union (EU) and is identifying ways in which the existing arrangements can be improved. The aim is to ensure that teaching provision is of high quality, meets current challenges and is better adapted to the knowledge society.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 3 August 2007 ‘Improving the Quality of Teacher Education’ [COM(2007) 392 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The quality of teaching is a key factor in the achievement of the Lisbon objectives for social cohesion, growth and economic competitiveness.
The teaching workforce must be capable of providing high quality teaching in order to enable EU citizens to acquire the knowledge and skills which they will need in their personal and professional lives.
Existing investment in the continuing training and development of the teaching workforce is not sufficient. There is no Member State in which the minimum duration of training exceeds five days per year. Although participation in continuing training is compulsory for teachers in 11 Member States, teachers’ rate of participation in such training is too low to achieve a continuous level of development among teachers.
The teacher training systems currently in place in the Member States do not promote the acquisition of the new teaching skills which have been made necessary by the changes in education and in society in general.
Although teachers are required to impart basic knowledge, they are also called upon to ensure, among other things, that:
- each learner’s specific needs are taken into account;
- pupils become autonomous lifelong learners;
- all young people acquire key skills;
- teaching is adapted to a multicultural environment;
- new technologies are used.
Joint action framework
The teaching profession has characteristics in common across the EU. It is therefore possible to arrive at a shared vision of the kinds of skills which teachers require, and to do so on the basis of certain principles.
The Commission is therefore proposing to the Member States a package of guidelines with a view to developing measures which seek to:
- ensure that the arrangements in place for initial and continuing teacher training are well coordinated within a coherent system which receives sufficient resources;
- ensure that teachers have the full range of subject knowledge, attitudes and pedagogic skills to be able to help young people to reach their full potential;
- promote the status and recognition of the teaching profession;
- create teacher training programmes at Master’s and doctorate level (and at Bachelor’s level);
- encourage the practice of reflection and research by those in the profession;
- investigate whether the level of qualifications and degree of practical experience required by a teaching post should be increased.
The Commission plans to take the following steps in order to support the Member States in their efforts to reform their teacher training systems:
- ensure that its action programmes support the Member States in their efforts to improve the organisation and content of the teacher training system;
- develop indicators in this field;
- help to create and disseminate new knowledge in the teaching sector and in teacher education.
The Commission plans to measure the improvement in the quality of teacher education as part of the work programme ‘Education and Training 2010’.
The programme ‘Lifelong Learning (2007-2013)’ promotes teacher mobility (Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes) and helps to establish cooperation projects between teacher training establishments.