Resolution on the Future of the Teaching Profession

The 6th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, from 22nd to 26th July 2011:

1. Asserts its belief that high-quality education is a fundamental human right for all students, and that, at the heart of education are teachers; that teachers help young people to think and acquire knowledge, to stay healthy and develop socially, and to make sense of and contribute to society and,  above all, that teachers inspire students to fulfil their potential:

2. Recognises that, fundamental to the work and purpose of Education International are the aspirations of millions of teachers globally, the vast majority of whom are members of affiliate unions;  that Education International’s core purpose is to represent the interests of those teachers on the global stage and to provide support and advice to member organisations in their activities nationally and within federations with states and governments:

3. States its profound belief that a key mission and purpose of EI is to promote, campaign and fight for a teaching profession globally which is self-confident and supported in acquiring the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to stay ahead in the changing world and for a teaching profession globally which is supported also by pay, compensation and conditions of service arrangements which sustain and maintain the lives of its members, their role in society and their status with comparable professions:

4. Noting that the purpose of this resolution is to provide a focus on the work of Education International in formulating a strategy for the future of the teaching profession:
 
5. Recognising that many governments and international organisations are turning their attention currently towards the work of teachers in the classroom and of school leaders and, that the temptation for some governments is to adopt punitive models for teacher effectiveness, including the casualisation of teacher contracts and the adoption of financial incentives for individual teachers to achieve high levels of pupil performance against specific test and examination results, accompanied by the threat of dismissal if specific targets are not met, and, that this is often accompanied by the use of high-stakes institutional evaluation, based on narrow measures, such as those above:

6. Recognising that such approaches corrode teachers’ self-confidence and their sense of self-efficacy and they undermine, not enhance, students achievement, as well as leading to further class-room inequality and a focus on the intellectual at the expense of the emotional and social intelligence of students

7. In the face of these punitive approaches, Congress decides to mandate the Executive Board to develop a strategy of advocacy for the teaching profession based on the principles set out in the Annex to this resolution, and to prepare, as a matter of urgency, a paper for member organisations  for use in negotiations with their governments, recognising that Education International’s principles for the future of the teaching profession are integral to Education International’s education policy – “Building the Future through Quality Education”.

ANNEX:
Principles for a Strategy of advocacy for the Future of the Teaching Profession

a. Without a confident, pro-active teaching profession, secure in its status and learning, the goal of a high-quality education system will not be achievable for any government.

b. Teachers and their organisations should be viewed by governments as equal partners, independent but committed to the common endeavour of achieving successful education systems.

c. Teachers and their school communities globally have much to learn from each other.  EI will support and help its affiliates to build bridges between schools and their communities:  

An Entitlement Curriculum

d. Students should be entitled to a curriculum which covers literacy, numeracy, the sciences, foreign languages, the arts, the humanities, life-skills and sporting activities. The curriculum should provide the students with civic competencies and prepare them for democracy as well as addressing their social, emotional and intellectual needs, in addition to preparing them for adult life and the world of work.

e. Where governments seek to establish national curricula, they should develop them with teachers and their organisations.

Evaluation

f. The evaluation of students should be diagnostic.  It should identify the next steps for students in their learning and provide meaningful information for parents, teachers and students themselves.  The results of student evaluation should not be used to evaluate teachers and schools as institutions.

g. The evaluation of teachers should be based on feedback which identifies teachers’ strengths and development needs.  Teachers should feel that they can be honest about their professional needs, as well as their strengths, without being penalised.  There is no evidence that individual financial incentives, such as performance-related pay, works in schools.  There is a great deal of evidence that evaluation linked to identifying and providing high-quality professional development for teachers has positive effects.

h. The evaluation of schools should focus on celebrating strengths and embedding ownership of improvement by school communities where improvements are needed.  School evaluation should encourage innovation and creativity and be owned by school communities. This evaluation should not result in a categorisation of establishments that would lead to a hierarchy and competition but should instead favour an exchange of positive methods between establishments.

i. System-wide evaluation by governments of their educational provision should be achieved by anonymous sampling mechanisms. This evaluation should primarily measure the capacity of a country’s educational system to compensate for social inequalities in academic achievement.

School Leadership

j. School leadership is vital to high-quality education systems. Governments and local authorities should include teachers and their organisations to develop new forms of leadership which enhance the capacity of schools to innovate and the confidence of teachers to reflect on and develop their own practice;

Teachers’ Pay, Compensation and Conditions of Service

k. Teachers’ pay, pension schemes, conditions of service and job security should be comparable to those which apply to other professions requiring a similar level of qualifications and should be sufficient to recruit and retain high calibre candidates to the profession and encourage them to remain in the profession;

l. Without the contribution of teachers and their organisations to the debate about the future of the teaching profession, governments will be undermined in their attempts to develop their education systems.  It is essential that teacher organisations play a central role in developing future strategies for teachers.

The Need for All Governments to Have Strategies for their Teaching Professions

m. Many governments and local authorities do not have a long-term strategy for their teaching profession. The assumption that once appointed, teachers can continue to teach over time without development and support is wrong. All teachers need and should have access to professional development.  Governments and local authorities should consider adopting the following components in any strategy for their teachers.

n. Continuing professional development and learning should be generated and owned by teachers and should be a career-long entitlement.

o. Teacher evaluation approaches should be developed which teachers can trust and which provide effective feedback and practical professional development.

p. Teachers should be able to draw on sources developed through research into teaching and exchange on their practices.

q. Teachers should be at the centre of, advising on and carrying out educational research.

r. Government and state education policies should factor in the views of teachers, both in the development of new policies and the implementation of new ones.

s. Governments must review their policies in order to establish whether these reward teachers’ knowledge and expertise of the teaching profession.

t. There should be a continuum of high-quality initial teacher education and teachers’ continuing professional development.  The education of teachers should be of the highest quality and to postgraduate level.  It should be followed by a period of structured induction into the profession and teachers should be supported throughout their careers by continuing professional development and learning. This support should include the acquisition and integration of new technologies without causing a disproportionate increase in teachers’ workloads, and whilst aiming to find a balance between work and studies.

u. Where professional teaching councils are established on a national basis, teachers should be at the centre of deciding the nature and remit of those councils.

v. Teachers’ organisations should be at the centre of the debate with governments and states about the nature and purposes of student, teacher, institutional and system-wide evaluation.

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