In-service training for secondary school teachers (France)
Sophie TARDY, Philippe LHERMET, André CANVEL, Vincent MAESTRACCI, Roger-François GAUTHIER, septembre 2018
The authors highlight the major changes in the education system in recent years, as well as the growing role of digital technology in training and the experiments conducted in certain academies, as factors that prompt a reconsideration of the current vocational training system.
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Summary of the report
This report examines the lack of effect of the recommendations of previous reports on in-service teacher training, and the paradoxical situation where, despite the sustained demand of teachers and the institution, the low volume of training continues to place France behind comparable countries.
It examines the period from 2013 to 2018, during which the major changes in the education system redrew the contours of in-service training: the publication of the skills reference framework for teaching and education professions, the renovation of priority education - introducing a special teacher training system - and finally the plan for the development of digital technology in schools resulted in a special training effort paving the way for the development of distance learning, particularly hybrid training, and self-training, both individual and collective. Since 2015, the Ministry of Education has sought to generalise a certification process for trainers in conjunction with the ESPEs, which is beginning to bear fruit. New approaches are being developed to take account of the changing contexts of teaching.
The report seeks to identify the reasons for the dissatisfaction of teachers, inspectors and school heads. It highlights, on the one hand, a growing gap between teachers who train a lot and well and others who train little or even do not receive any training, and, on the other hand, the growing tension between a dominant training model that is reproduced and new training methods that are in full evolution. It would appear that the current landscape of continuing education and the way in which the players involved in it are involved in a number of possible developments.
The Ministry of Education and its major operators have developed a diversified and high-quality offer. In so doing, they have learned to make better use of the capabilities of digital technology, which is a highly competitive area, and have invested in new training methods. However, while the profusion of resources, systems and operators is a source of wealth, the fact that they are scattered over numerous platforms, which are organised in different ways, does not allow teachers to make use of them easily and makes them difficult to read.
The monitoring and evaluation system also proves to be ineffective in ensuring both global and local steering. It thus ignores training activities that do not involve funding and, in particular, neglects the development of self-training made possible by the growing number of resources accessible online and distance learning systems.
The report proposes twelve recommendations based on new levers and tools to rebalance a system that is currently cumbersome and difficult to manage, not very responsive and essentially top-down, and which, finally, does not have the means to expand.
Assert the primary responsibility of the Ministry of Education for defining and implementing an ambitious policy of professional and personal development for teachers.
Focusing training on the specificities of teachers.
Place training as close as possible to the place of practice and encourage the emergence of teams united around shared problems.
Motivate teachers to undertake lifelong learning.
Simplify management and procedures.
Strengthen the recognition of trainers.
Search for the training methods best suited to the objectives sought.
Use training engineers.
Organise the evaluation of training.
Train managers to support change.
Facilitate teachers’ access to resources.
Implement an incentive policy for training.
It thus encourages the promotion of the concept of professional and personal development, the use of which in administrations and companies is becoming commonplace, as the interviews with the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, the National Centre for Territorial Civil Servants and a large company in the banking sector have shown.
It also encourages training initiatives to be based primarily on the expression by teachers of their needs, both collective and individual. Professional and personal development should make it possible to adapt training to the great diversity of teachers’ profiles as well as to their contexts of practice, which themselves vary greatly. The uniqueness of each teacher should thus be taken into account to a much greater extent than at present. Research and its internationally validated results, as well as the change in teachers’ attitudes that it brings about, must permeate the whole of teacher education.
The objectives and challenges of training imply a change in the posture of teachers aimed at making them actors in their training and committed to their own professional development, capable of updating their knowledge and analysing their practices according to the teaching contexts and audiences, as well as evaluating them in order to better adapt them.
The schools, basins and networks that bring them together also need to be supported by more systematic advice on training engineering. It is at this level, and on the basis of an analysis of needs, that the training responses to be provided to teachers could then be developed. The methods and content would be more relevant and the evaluation of the impact on professional practice would be easier.
National priorities could be defined in a multi-year perspective that the rectors would adapt to their own context and priorities in order to eventually arrive at a genuine academic training offer and policy involving all the players. The report proposes that the skills reference framework for teaching and education professions be refined to take into account both the development of teachers’ expertise over the course of their careers and their teaching context (priority territories, vocational pathways, post-baccalaureate education, etc.). It should eventually serve as a single, systematic reference for all professional training. On the basis of this new, enriched reference system, the Ministry would be better equipped to offer individualised career paths to teachers by guiding them in their career development choices.
These developments also imply an overhaul of management applications and the implementation of a new information system that integrates certified training and self-training, actions relating to the personal training account and all training methods such as internships in companies, mobility abroad, participation in recruitment exam juries, etc.
The national level would benefit from the development of two tools: an observatory of the evolution of the teaching profession and a steering tool based on various forms of evaluation and meeting the needs of the three levels of responsibility, namely the school, the academy and the national level. These principles and tools could help to ensure that the skills acquired by teachers are taken into account more fully in the management of human resources, both for their assignment and for their career advancement. Teachers should be encouraged to train for two main reasons: the success of the pupils in their charge, and their own professional and personal development, both of which help to improve the image of the profession and, consequently, its attractiveness. Attention must be paid to the first years of practice after initial training in ESPEs (schools dedicated to teacher training), on the basis of individualised positioning, in order to ensure support at the start of their career and the integration of new teachers into a collective framework.
The development of training must not interfere with the teaching time due to pupils. If it is not possible to integrate training time into teachers’ service, a choice must be made: integration into teachers’ service obligations or recognition of training through a new and specific allowance.
The readability of professional and personal development policy should be improved. To this end, a comprehensive national portal could be set up. It would provide useful information for both teachers and those who supervise and manage them. The proposed changes are intended to be gradual and respectful of the dynamics that already exist in certain academies; they presuppose an increase in the resources mobilised.
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