Germany: “Higher investment in teacher education is overdue”

published 13 September 2018 updated 19 September 2018

The Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft and the Verband Bildung und Erziehung have drawn attention to the long-standing “neglect” of on-going teacher training in the German discussion on educational quality.

In a joint communiqué released on 10 September, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) and the Verband Bildung und Erziehung(VBE) demand higher investment in teacher training, so that it can be quantitatively and qualitatively expanded and improved. In addition, teacher professional development should be given more importance by the national Conference of Education Ministers (KMK) and Länder(regions).

VBE: heavy workload put on teachers without compensating with policy support and training

“Integration, inclusion and digitisation put a heavy load on teachers, a load they can only deal with if they can have quality preparation. Teacher commitment and motivation alone are not enough,” VBE Federal President Udo Beckmann warned.

Adding that political will is required for teachers to finally get sufficient support, he insisted that “it cannot be that higher and higher expectations are put on teachers while they are denied the necessary training support.”

The German Association for the Promotion of Teacher Training (DVLfB), in a comprehensive evaluation, has found that teacher professional training is massively underfunded.

GEW: access to teacher in-service training must be provided and carefully planned

Investments in this area have significantly decreased in recent years. “To enhance education quality, it does not work to only consider the new generation of teacher students and initial training, while neglecting teaching staff already working in schools,” emphasised GEW board member Ilka Hoffmann, who is responsible for  school policy.

“There is too little support through targeted in-service training”, she noted, stressing that a fixed number of days for in-service training is needed.

According to the DVLfB evaluation, teacher on-going professional training is poorly adapted tochallenges that schools are currently facing. There is a lack of availability, sustainable training formats, structures and staff.

Beckmann made it clear that the planningof professional training must also change: “When a school has 100 percent of its teachers committed to the classroom, training sessions have to be carefully planned. To ensure that all teachers can follow teacher training, appropriate alterations need to be made to schedules and timetables to enable participation.”

Recommendations for improved teacher training

VBE and GEW support the actions recommended by DVLfB, calling on the national conference (KMK) and ministries of education to:

• Achieve transparency and allow comparison of teacher training programmes through regular reporting in accordance with well-defined criteria;

• Engage in cross-regional cooperation, e.g. to develop sustainable formats and meaningful evaluation procedures;

• Systematically record f training needs through targeted questioning of teaching staff and the use of existing data such as school training plans or the results of school inspections;

• Adopt measures for development of quality; and

• Stop resource reductions; aligning resources with the development of spending for the state school system.