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Initial preparation and entry into the profession

In 2013/14, there were 5 435 students enrolled in teacher training programmes for all levels, in one of the 6 national teacher training institutions (and one music academy). most prospective teachers pay for their education: in 2013/14, for instance, 915 out of the 1 379 students admitted to bachelor-level programmes paid fees (MoEs, 2015).

Two training routes can be taken. The most common is a professional bachelor’s degree programme lasting four years which provides a teaching qualification for a specific level of education (pre-school, primary or secondary) and, for secondary school teachers, a specific subject area. ECEC and primary school teachers are qualified to teach all subjects. The second route requires two stages - a bachelor’s degree (three years) in Education Sciences, plus an additional two years of study in a second-level professional programme of studies to qualify as a teacher in a specific level of education and/or subject area. Vocational school teachers generally have a professional diploma in a vocational area with an additional qualification in vocational teaching.

In Latvia most student teachers are enrolled into a programme with at least four years of pedagogical and subject-specific content (Kangro and Kangro, 2012). Universities have considerable autonomy to design their own programmes. In 2000, MoES established that 26 credits out of 160 had to be devoted to field experience, although programmes vary over the extent to which the credits are spent in schools and whether students have access to certified mentors (Odina, 2008; Kangro and Kangro, 2012).

In an effort to draw the best graduates into the profession, some OECD countries including Estonia, Finland, Korea and Norway have established selective criteria for those wanting to enter initial teacher education. Some also have additional requirements for those who have completed initial teacher education before they can enter the profession. For example France, Japan and Korea have competitive exams for those wishing to start primary and secondary teaching while some countries require the passing of a teaching practicum or the successful completion of a probation period or formal induction programme before becoming a fully qualified teacher (OECD, 2013a). Aspiring teachers face no such barriers in Latvia.

Principals are appointed by municipalities upon succeeding at a nationwide competition, and in turn appoint their deputies. No additional qualification is needed to become a school leader but principals can take additional management-related training. Two teacher training institutions in Riga also offer specific master’s programmes for future school leaders. School leaders are allowed to combine their leadership responsibilities with up to nine hours per week of teaching or other school activities.

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