Perhaps It's Time for Some Basic Questions; at the Third International Teaching Councils' Conference, Hosted in Cardiff Last Week by the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW), Professor John Furlong Looked at Teacher Effectiveness and, in Particular, How the Education System in Wales Matches Up Worldwide. Here, Professor Furlong Summarises His Key Points

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THE McKinsey Report (2007), looked at the world's best education systems and concluded that the quality of a country''s education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers First, it's about getting the right people to become teachers. Second, it's about developing these teachers to become effective instructors. Finally, it is about ensuring that there is a system in place that is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child.

It is essential that the right people become teachers in the first place. In both Wales and England there has been a high-profile recruitment campaign for teaching. This has helped raise the status of teaching and, coupled with this, there have been welcome salary rises for new teachers to ensure graduate entry is the same as other graduates.

In England, the routes into teaching have been diversified. Across the border, employment-based routes now account for 18% of those recruited. This has helped attract older people to the profession, career changers who bring a wealth of experience, as well as attracting more male and minority ethnic students.

Also, England has introduced an initiative for high-flying graduates, called Teach First. After graduating, top graduates receive six weeks of intensive training before teaching in the more challenging secondary schools for a minimum of two years.

Currently, although Wales has a small number of entrants via the employment-based route (the Graduate Teacher programme), it does not run Teach First. Wales is yet to address the quality of those entering the profession. The average qualification criteria for those entering undergraduate initial teacher training programmes are C,D,D grades at A Level. If Wales wants to attract the brightest teachers then these issues need to be addressed head on.

Second, in order to develop new teachers into effective instructors, the practical element of being able to deliver the curriculum in a classroom environment is important.

Student teachers are spending more time in school putting into practice what they learn during their teaching degrees.

The benefits are high levels of satisfaction from students with the teaching method, from employers with the preparation of new teachers and from inspectors that a year on new teachers are almost indistinguishable from more experienced hands.

But there are also dangers. One of the main drawbacks is that students who spend more time in school during their training could end up reproducing outdated pedagogies. A student is likely to replicate what they see already in the classroom and, while this poses no problems if you are emulating excellence, it becomes a concern if some older hands have not embraced curriculum or pedagogic change. …