Teachers and school leaders

The teaching workforce in both general and vocational upper secondary education reflects the profile of the education workforce as a whole: predominantly female and ageing. in 2013/14, just over one-fifth of the teaching workforce (7 938 out of 41 034) taught in the upper secondary part of the education system, with 4 609 teachers in general upper secondary education and 3 329 teachers in vocational education. A further 693 teachers were teaching in evening school classes.

Latvia has very low proportions of young teachers working at the upper secondary level. only 6.7% of upper secondary teachers were under the age of 30 in 2012 (Eurostat, 2014), compared to the oECD and EU21 averages of 9% and 8% respectively (oECD, 2014a). On the other hand, Latvia is faced with a considerable cohort of teachers above the age of 50. Over 44% of upper secondary teachers were 50 or older; 13% were 60 or older (Eurostat, 2014b).

Latvia’s share of male teachers is also very low. in 2012 just 19.2% of teachers in upper secondary education were male, which is the lowest share among EU countries with available data (Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 2015a; Eurostat, 2014b).

As discussed in previous chapters, Latvia pays its teachers less than many other OECD and European countries, and education is not generally regarded as a high status or attractive profession. Improving the image of teaching for both women and men would permit a more positive and balanced view of the profession (Kelleher, 2011). We believe that making teaching an attractive career option - for both men and women - will require basic salaries to increase in real terms (OECD, 2014c). One positive development is that MoES has recently taken measures to improve the situation, including the piloting of a new remuneration system (see Chapter 1).

In October 2014, the government adopted the Regulations on Necessary Teacher Education and Professional Qualifications, and Procedure for the Improvement of Professional Competences which determine education requirements and education acquisition procedures for vocational education teachers. Teachers without pedagogical qualifications must now have completed a 72-hour pedagogical course in a higher education institution. In addition, they must have either:

  • • tertiary education in a sector
  • • vocational upper secondary education or master of crafts-level qualification.

The requirement for a pedagogical course does not apply to those supervising practical work whose teaching load is less than 240 hours per year. Most vocational education teachers already have a tertiary degree; 92% in 2013/14 (Cedefop, 2015; MoES, 2015).

Teachers of general subjects (in general upper secondary and vocational schools) must have either:

• Tertiary education in pedagogy/education (bachelor’s/master’s degree or second level higher professional education) and a teacher’s qualification in a particular subject.

• Tertiary education in the relevant subject (bachelor’s/master’s degree or second level higher professional education) and a teacher’s qualification in particular subject (or studied in a teacher’s education programme) or a pedagogical course/programme of at least 72 hours in a higher education institution.

As with vocational teachers, most teachers of general subject have a tertiary degree. The regulations determine all teachers should have tertiary education or must be in the process of obtaining one.

Continuing professional development (CPD) amounting to at least 36 hours over a 3-year period is now compulsory for all teachers, whether teaching general or vocational subjects. CPD must be agreed with the head of the school. The key vehicles for formal CPD in general upper secondary education are the A and B programmes provided by universities and other providers (see Chapter 3). Teachers can also participate in events organised by the “professional subject associations”. However, as discussed in Chapter 3, it is not clear how active these associations are throughout Latvia or the extent to which they actually contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Throughout the years EU-funded programmes have played an important role in the CPD of teachers in Latvia, particularly in vocational schools. For example, EU funding gave 292 vocational teachers and apprenticeship supervisors in companies the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills in 2014 (European Commission, 2015). Given the intensity of the reform process, further investments in the continuous professional development are likely to be needed. Teachers will need opportunities to reflect on their practice and to share their ideas both within and across schools.

Their expertise also needs to be made more visible at a regional and national level. In general little is known about the professional development and further professional development needs of upper secondary teachers at the central level. This is particularly the case for those teaching in general education schools who are less the focus of national reform efforts.

As discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 it is not clear how well teachers’ initial education programmes are aligned with CPD programmes and processes today. During the first decade of independence, Latvia concentrated on the professional development of in-service teachers in order to support them in developing more innovative pedagogical approaches. There was no corresponding review of pre-service teacher education leading to concerns that even newly qualified teachers have been trained in a more conservative pedagogical tradition (Silova et al., 2010).

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