From Policy to Pupil: why do teachers matter?

Cambridge University Press: Education Reform

18th January 2019

teacher with class of students

Teachers always matter. From policy to pupil, teachers play an essential role within education systems around the world. Featuring a range of contributions from industry experts, this timely report explains why a government's first educational priority should be to support good teaching and proposes numerous ways to do so.

Ensuring the centrality of teachers can allow education systems to flourish. Colleen McLaughlin maintains that, ‘since the goal of almost all reform in education is to shape, modify or change classroom practice, the teacher is the central figure’ (Page 13). The report highlights numerous education systems that prioritise the voices of teachers, allowing them to be agents of change and steer the direction of travel. In Uganda, new policies are shaped by teacher consultation panels, ensuring that their views are heard at the first phase of discussion. Similarly, in Malaysia, the role of the teacher is emphasised and policy consultations are now commonplace. Not only does this give teachers a stake in deciding the future of their education system, it also guarantees that bad policies don’t get past the initial discussion phase.

Given the benefits of centralising the role of teachers, the report provides numerous recommendations for those that drive reform. Policymakers should attend to teacher voices on the ground, provide access to useful research and ensure that educationalists are represented on relevant consultation panels. Additionally, providing teachers with high status career paths, through professional development and improvements in pedagogy, will incentivise the changes we want to see and have a positive impact on student attainment. The report also establishes the central role of teachers in the creation of high-quality learning materials. Textbooks created by teachers, for teachers are not only time-saving aids but are also invaluable to pupils.

Overall, this report highlights the primacy of teachers in all aspects of education. From the classroom to government, Teachers need to be placed at the heart of our education systems.

Read the full report (PDF)

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