Recruiting effective teachers to the profession  How do you make sure that tomorrow’s teachers are the best possible? Part of that answer is to recruit the best available people for PGCEs and BEd courses- but how do you identify them, and how do you attract them? Different countries have used different methods- with various levels of success. The research base does provide some clear answers- evidence that should be used in the design of policy. Teacher Education The Schools White Paper 2010 on education states: Will the strategy, in the context of this post the minimum requirement of a 2.2 degree, work? Hattie (2009) examines the influence of a teacher’s subject knowledge on student achievement: It looks pretty irrelevant compared to other factors that he measures, ranking 125th on his table of 138 effect sizes. Ok... Maybe we should look to Finland? Finland have down amazing well in the annual PISA tests- coming first in every test since 2001 bar the 2010 analysis. Incredibly, Finnish students spend less time in school than those in other countries- starting at age seven and spending only three to four hours each day in lessons. There is very little variation in the effectiveness of Finnish schools, and the influence of a child’s background on how they perform is weaker than in any other OECD country! (Whelan, 2009).  Selection procedures More than 25% of young people in Finland rate teaching as their top career choice. Nationally there are 6.7 applicants for every teacher training place- this compares with 3.2 at Oxford and 1.2 in England as an average. People want to teach in Finland- they want to a lot. Finnish applicants for teacher training are rigorously selected: national tests in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving slim down the applicants. This is followed by rounds of interviews, group tasks, essays and assessment days probing motivation and various soft skills. The number of successful applicants is controlled so that the number of graduates matches the number of places likely to be available, and to keep the courses as competitive as possible. (This, it is claimed, has a secondary effect of raising the status of the profession as a whole.) Whelan (2009) states that many countries support teacher training programmes that, “accept between two and four times as many candidates as are actually required by the system”. This, it is claimed, “pushes down the status of the courses and makes them unattractive to those who can opt for more selective programs”. To compound this negative effect, the quality of training falls due to the dual effects of the available resources being spread across too many trainees and because some of those on the course are likely to be less capable and committed. Money Whelan (2009) considers the financial incentives that attract (or dispel) applicants to the teaching profession, “the next part of getting the right people to become teachers is paying good compensation”. Milanowski (2003) for example has shown how the number and calibre of people applying for teacher training courses is influenced by salary. Future discounting seems to be important- starting salaries seem to be more important than incremental growth in earnings through a career. Whelan (2009) points out that a lower starting salary acts as a barrier to potential teachers who can earn more elsewhere. The incremental rise may have a different effect- it keeps some teachers in teaching when really they should be elsewhere. The results from PISA research shows that schools in developed countries which pay higher salaries have stronger overall performance. UK pay reforms So, what will be the consequences of current UK reforms to the pay and conditions of the teaching profession? Given the impact of a recession and the prevalence of future discounting for many young people, the tinkering with the teacher’s pension scheme may be ignored by recruits in the short-term. However, a reduced pension and a pay-freeze combined with an observable erosion in the morale of the profession is highly unlikely to result in successful recruitment of higher calibre graduates- whether a new minimum of a class 2.2 degree is introduced or not.
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