Teacher training

‘It is widely recognised that the quality of learning depends to a great extent on the quality of the teachers’ (Best, Tournier and Chimier, 2018: 3). This factor is even more significant in schools with underprivileged children (Nye et al., 2004 cited by Best, Tournier and Chimier, 2018). Sufficiently preparing teachers for their job is a key factor to ensure quality learning, inclusion, and equity in schools.

References
Best, A.; Tournier, B.; Chimier, C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris: IIEP- UNESCO  Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/english_final_topical_questions.pdf

Promising policy options

Sector-wide strategies

To build the basis for an equitable and inclusive school environment, where teachers will deploy the knowledge and skills learned throughout their training on inclusive education, Ministries of Education should:

Ministries of Education (MoE) should create a comprehensive teacher training plan. ‘Teachers’ professional development must be systematically planned, supported, funded and researched to guarantee the effectiveness of this process’ (Villegas-Reimers, 2003: 141).  

MoE’s should base the plan on the country’s current situation by asking:

  • How many teachers are needed in the education system?
  • How many of them have received training on inclusive education?
  • How many should be trained?

It is important to recognize which are the different options available for pre- and in-service teacher training as well as their geographic coverage. Evaluate whether more training opportunities are needed or if existing ones can be reorganized to ensure efficient geographic coverage. Get support from local stakeholders, and assign them the responsibility of tracking and publicizing available teacher training opportunities (UNESCO Bangkok, 2009). 

MoE’s should also guarantee minimum national professional standards by developing a clear, coherent and concise framework at a national level, specifying the common body of knowledge and skills on inclusive education which must be mastered by all entrants to the teaching profession (UNESCO, 2018; Darling-Hammond, 2014; ET2020 Working Group on Schools Policy, 2015). That framework should be used to guide pre-service training and assessments, ongoing professional development and career advancement, in-service evaluations, as well as teacher certification.

References
Ainscow, M. 2005. ‘Developing inclusive education systems: what are the levers for change?’ In: Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 109-124.

Darling-Hammond, L. 2014. One Piece of the Whole: Teacher Evaluation as Part of a Comprehensive System for Teaching and Learning. Washington D.C.: American Educator. Retrieved from: http://www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/epr/KEDI-seminar/2013/2014/one-piece-whole_Darling-Hammond.pdf

EFA Global Monitoring Report. 2015. Education for Development: Investing in teachers is investing in learning: a prerequisite fro the transformative power of education. Oslo: EFA Global Monitoring Report. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233897

ET2020 Working Group on Schools Policy. 2015. Shaping career-long perspectives on teaching: A guide on policies to improve Initial Teacher Education. Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/library/reports/initial -teacher-education_en.pdf

IDDC (International Disability and Development Consortium). 2013. Every child needs a quality, inclusive teacher. Brussels: IDDC. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/IDDC_Every_Child_Needs_a_Teacher_leaflet.pdf

UNESCO Bangkok. 2009. Towards inclusive education for children with disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001924/192480e.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNESCO. 2018. Ensuring the right to equitable and inclusive quality education: Results of the Ninth Consultation of Member States on the implementation of the UNESCO Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000251463?posInSet=6&queryId=9e5cc75d-0a13-40b6-b696-45c01bdec668

UNESCO; International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. 2019. Teacher Policy Development Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370966

Villegas-Reimers, E. 2003. Teacher professional development: an international review of the literature. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000133010

Adapt teachers’ pre-service training to enhance inclusive education

Teacher training (and the curricula) must be redesigned or adapted so that teachers acquire the necessary skills to respond to the needs of all children and narrow learning gaps. Initial training must address specific challenges that teachers will encounter throughout their profession (Best, Tournier and Chimier, 2018). Thoughtful investment should be geared towards equipping teachers to teach in challenging circumstances (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018).

Teacher training’s reform should be data-driven. For instance, insights from students’ assessments and in-class observations should be mobilized to determine pressing challenges and provide appropriate responses through the training and its corresponding curriculum (EFA Global Monitoring Report, 2015).

The participation of knowledgeable and experienced representatives of marginalised populations in the development of teacher training content should be promoted. Teacher Training Institutions and its staff should be gender-balanced and representative. Which is why, when feasible, representatives of marginalized populations should be supported to become teacher trainers (e.g. include persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, women, LGBTIQ population, etc.).

Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) and/or Teacher Training Institutions should ensure that inclusive education and gender have been mainstreamed (embedded) throughout the entire training programme. Teacher training ‘should be reoriented and aligned to inclusive education approaches in order to give teachers the pedagogical capacities necessary to make diversity work in the classroom and in line with reformed curricula’ (UNESCO, 2009: 17). Include the following:

  • Gender-responsive pedagogyrefers ‘to teaching and learning processes which pay attention to the specific learning needs of girls and boys.’ (UNESCO Bangkok, 2017: 4). (For specific information consult Gender section in Policy page Classroom practices.)
  • Inclusive pedagogy: is an ‘alternative pedagogical approach that has the potential to reduce educational inequality by enhancing learning opportunities for everyone’ (Florian, 2015: 6). For example, through Scotland’s Inclusive Practice project, inclusive pedagogy was included in the graduate diploma in Education PGDE at the University of Aberdeen (Spratt and Florian, 2013).
  • Training on content and methods related to Learning to Live Together (LTLT) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (For more details consult IIEP-UNESCO, 2015).
  • Training on methods which aim to narrow the learning gap. This strategy, implemented in the United States, has shown modest but positive results in the decline in the magnitude of racial achievement gaps (McFarland et al., 2017, cited by IIEP-UNESCO, 2018).

In addition, it is essential to support teachers to develop robust theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as attitudes and values, on inclusive education (UNESCO, 2009; Spratt and Florian, 2013; UNICEF, 2014; Elder and Kuja, 2019). Ensure a balance between the theoretical knowledge of inclusive education with practical experience (Ackers, 2018). For this, make sure that trainers in Teacher Training Institutions and Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) have practical experience in inclusive education.

Help teachers to develop inclusive values and attitudes, allowing them to become aware of their biased perceptions and demystify preconceived ideas in relation to gender, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, disability, among others. These biases in teachers are proven to inhibit pupils’ academic progress. Teachers should accept and welcome diversity within the classroom and believe in the capacity of all of the children to learn. Teachers should also be empowered to believe in their own capacity to teach all children, as well as understand that it is their responsibility. This can be facilitated by encouraging teachers’ active, cooperative, and reflective learning throughout the training (UNESCO, 2009; Villegas-Reimers, 2003).

References
Ackers, J. 2018. Teacher education and inclusive education. Accessed 10 May 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/teacher-education-and-inclusive-education-4789

Best, A.; Tournier, B.; Chimier, C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris: IIEP- UNESCO  Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/english_final_topical_questions.pdf

EFA Global Monitoring Report. 2015. Education for Development: Investing in teachers is investing in learning: a prerequisite fro the transformative power of education. Oslo: EFA Global Monitoring Report. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233897

Elder, B.C.; Kuja, B. 2019. ‘Going to school for the first time: inclusion committee members increasing the number of students with disabilities in primary schools in Kenya’. In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23:3, 261–279. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=4102

Florian, L. 2015. ‘Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities?’. In: Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.1, pp. 5-14.

GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

IDDC (International Disability and Development Consortium). 2013. Every child needs a quality, inclusive teacher. Brussels: IDDC. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/IDDC_Every_Child_Needs_a_Teacher_leaflet.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. ‘Booklet 7 – Teacher development: How will we support and train teachers?’. In: Safety, Resilience, and Social Cohesion: A Guide for Curriculum Developers. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000234818/PDF/234818eng.pdf.multi

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Learning at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Science, Measurement, and Policy in Low-Income Countries. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265581

Spratt, J.; Florian, L. 2013. ‘Applying the principles of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education: from university based course to classroom action’. In: Revista de Investigación en Educación, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 133-140.

UNESCO Bangkok. 2017. Integration of Gender-Responsive Pedagogy in pre- and in-service teacher training courses in Ethiopia. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from: https://bangkok.unesco.org/sites/default/files/assets/article/Teachers%20Education/GenderAssessment-May2017/Ethiopia_Demissew.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

UNESCO. 2017. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNESCO; International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. 2019. Teacher Policy Development Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370966

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Teachers, Inclusive, Child-Centred Teaching and Pedagogy: Webinar 12 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Villegas-Reimers, E. 2003. Teacher professional development: an international review of the literature. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000133010

Provide quality professional development opportunities to enhance inclusive education

‘As systems become more inclusive, professional development is particularly important because of the major new challenges that face regular school teachers, who have to respond to a greater diversity of student needs’ (UNESCO, 2017: 36). This means professional development opportunities (in-service training) should be implemented as a continuum and be tailored to school and teachers’ specific needs (bottom-up approach), which allows them to steadily update their skills and adapt to rapid changes in education. Overall, professional development opportunities which ‘are collaborative in nature and based on teachers’ contexts have been found to be more effective than those that are not’ (Bett, 2016: 1). In addition, it is essential to ensure that in-service teacher training is ‘coherent with pre-service teacher training and the national education policies and strategies’ (UNICEF, 2014: 35).

Available expertise in the school should be mobilized. Indeed, teachers should be involved in the design of the training, their knowledge on context-based specificities, cultural and social norms should be used. School-based training has been found to be more effective than cascade training (IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal, n.d.; Bett, 2016). It provides teachers the opportunity to translate the knowledge acquired into their everyday classroom practice (action learning). In addition, by being implemented on the ground, it ensures that the programme itself is based on teacher’s specific context and thus aims to tackle their core needs (Bett, 2016). (Consult UNICEF, 2014 and Bett, 2016 to learn specific strategies to increase the effectiveness of cascade training in case it is the chosen strategy).

Moreover, including on-going support and post-training monitoring helps ensure the sustainability of the school-based training. Thus, effective and practical follow-up methods should be implemented to ensure that the knowledge gained by teachers is being translated into inclusive practices (for more information consult the Policy page Classroom practices supervision). Creating a supportive environment is also of outmost importance. The following strategies can be considered:

  • Peer-to-peer support: this strategy helps to contextualize, sustain, and embed inclusive practices inside the school.
  • Communities of practice: encourage teachers to work together, share the knowledge gained, reflect on their individual teaching practices, identify common issues as well as find joint solutions to their specific challenges (Bett, 2016). This can be done through ‘action research’ activities where teachers actively collaborate and work as reflective practitioners to identify solutions to common challenges (Bett, 2016).
  • School-to-school collaborations: ‘can strengthen the capacity of individual organizations to respond to learner diversity’ and thus create an enabling environment (Ainscow and Howes 2007; Howes and Ainscow 2006 cited by Ainscow and Miles, 2008: 29).

Finally, school principals should ‘challenge the status quo of traditional competitive and individualistic approaches to teach; inspire a clear mutual vision of what the school should and could be; empower staff through co-operative teamwork; lead by example, using co-operative procedures and taking risks; and encourage staff members to persist and keep striving to improve their expertise’ (IBE-UNESCO, 2008: 16). In addition, they should provide actionable feedback to the teachers to help them improve their classroom practices. Changing the mindset around feedback is essential. Indeed, positive feedback should be employed to let teachers understand that feedback is given to help them improve their practice, not to criticise them.

References
Ainscow, M. 2005. ‘Developing inclusive education systems: what are the levers for change?’ In: Journal of Educational Change, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 109-124.

Ainscow, M. 2019. The UNESCO Salamanca Statement 25 years on Developing inclusive and equitable education systems. Discussion paper prepared for the International Forum on inclusion and equity in education – every learner matters, Cali, Colombia, 11-13 September 2019. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/2019-forum-inclusion-discussion-paper-en.pdf

Ainscow, M.; Miles, S. 2008. ‘Making Education for All inclusive: where next?’ In: Prospects, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 15-34.

Bett, H.K. 2016. ‘The cascade model of teachers’ continuing professional development in Kenya: A time for change?’ In: Cogent Education, vol. 3, 1139439. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=380

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. n.d. Transforming Teacher Education to Improve Learning Outcomes. Accessed 10 May 2019: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/forum/transforming-teacher-education-to-improve-learning-outcomes

IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. ‘Booklet 7 – Teacher development: How will we support and train teachers?’. In: Safety, Resilience, and Social Cohesion: A Guide for Curriculum Developers. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000234818/PDF/234818eng.pdf.multi

UNESCO. 2004. Teacher Education Resource Pack Student materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000137881?posInSet=4&queryId=8c276c0b-c4a9-450d-b9c9-96641e8bb69e

UNESCO. 2009. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

UNESCO. 2017. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNESCO; International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. 2019. Teacher Policy Development Guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000370966

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Teachers, Inclusive, Child-Centred Teaching and Pedagogy: Webinar 12 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Updated on 2021-06-16

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