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Salary Rises and Careers Prospects will Attract Future Teachers

The reform of pedagogical education in Russia should include training teachers in various subjects simultaneously, creating career opportunities, and an algorithm for ‘mobilizing’ the best recent graduates. Anatoly Kasprzhak has studied the experience of teacher training modernization in France, Germany, USA, Great Britain, Finland, Singapore, and Japan

Raising teachers’ salaries is a necessity, but it is not the only requirement for the improvement of their training. A ‘complex therapy’ for Russian pedagogical education is needed: it should be made more pragmatic, and talented recent graduates should be attracted to teaching and retained in the profession, Anatoly Kasprzhak, Director of the HSE Center of Leadership Development in Education, concluded in his research.

Many countries have developed several simple rules which attract recent graduates to teaching  inschools:

  • Maintaining teachers’ high status;
  • Early professional selection, which means ‘recruiting’ talented students as future teachers while they’re still in high school;
  • The decision to become a school teacher must be a conscious one, and the study of the subject of teaching and disciplines in psychology and pedagogics mustn’t be conducted simultaneously;
  • A multi-stage career ladder is necessary, where working in school administration is not the limit of a teacher’s career;
  • Students of teacher training institutions need much more practice during their study, which will allow the young teachers to develop their own pedagogical style.

Anatoly Kasprzhak’s paper is based on the results of the analysis of pedagogical education reforms in 12 countries of Europe, Asia and North America, and conducted by the HSE Center of Leadership Development in Education.

Young people are motivated by professional and career growth

An ageing faculty and the necessity of balancing the age level of school teachers is a problem in many countries, the researcher concludes. In order to attract young teachers to Russian schools, it’s necessary to develop new career trajectories for newly qualified teachers and to reinforce these career prospects with financial support.

Today in Russia a young teacher’s career can only be related to moving on to working in school administration, which is, in fact, leaving the pedagogical profession, Kasprzhak says. A Russian teacher can’t have professional growth related to the change of their formal status. The researcher gives examples of creating professional prospects for teachers in other countries.

In Great Britain a teacher has thepossibility of passing five levels in the profession. This career algorithm is legalized by the National Curriculum.

InSingaporeevery teacher, after three years of work at a school, is offered an annual attestation. It allows determining which of the three ways of professional development suits him best: senior teacher, researcher and teaching methods expert, or a school administrator. Each case includes a bonus system.

‘In Great Britain, where a teacher’s salary had been a little lower than average for recent graduates, a rise of 10% has lead to a considerable – by 30% – inflow of potential candidates, and improved their quality’, the paper says.

Schools prefer multiskilled teachers

Graduates of educational programmes which have been formed as part of a certain philosophical (pedagogical, didactic, psychological) cultural tradition, have obviously lost the market to technologically advanced multiskilled specialists, the author believes.

In relation to this, the example of Poland is notable, where narrowly focused specialists (for example, history teachers), have had to leave schools in small cities, because they didn’t had enough work. They were then replaced with teachers who had two specializations and were better prepared in terms of technology.

Physics and arts, history and physical training – such combinations of ‘ill-matched’ subjects are offered for teachers to teach in Germany, and this practice has existed for several decades. In Russia the pairs of subjects are not that varied. For example, physics goes with astronomy, chemistry with biology, and history with social science.

In Finland a considerable number of teachers graduating as ‘Primary School Teachers’ simultaneously get the qualification of teacher of a certain subject from the secondary school course (7-9 grades). This practice is encouraged by the government, and in low-populated or distant locations they prefer to hire teachers who are qualified to teach at all school grades.

Attracting the best specialists to the profession

As a result of the teacher training system reforms, many countries show trends exactly match the aim of the reformers, the author emphasizes.

First, according to Kaspzhak, the system of teacher training is no longer industrial, it is open, which, in combination with benefit measures, led to solving the task of attracting the best specialists to the profession.

Second, the basic unit for projects is now a ‘curriculum ready for constant changes’. The contents of this correspond with labour market demands,which also motivates recent graduates to work in schools.

Four lessons for Russia

Russia can learn at least four lessons based on recent international experience, Anatoly Kasprzhak believes.

  1. The existing system of pedagogical education should be integrated with higher professional and continuing education in this sphere, and pedagogical educational institutions should be integrated with classical universities. It is also necessary to introduce multi-channel mechanisms for teaching qualification.
  2. It is necessary to create an environment where the solution to choosing the profession of a teacher can be delayed – for example, until the end of the undergraduate programme.
  3. Teacher training programmes should focus on practice. This should be realized by adding a varied system of internships to the curriculum.
  4. The goal should be the specialized training of teachers, which takes into account not only the subject to be taught, but also the features of the school.

If a future teacher gets the opportunity to get a second specialization, we can hope that schools will attract well-prepared and highly sought after professionals, Anatoly Kasprzhak concludes.


Author: Olga Sobolevskaya, November 01, 2013