On 11 April 2019, the OECD published A Flying Start, a report which describes teacher education as one continuous process and proposes strategies for policy makers, teacher education institutions and schools with a view to supporting the implementation of sustainable initial teacher preparation (ITP) systems.

Based on reviews from education systems in Australia, Japan, Korea, the US, the Netherlands, Norway and Wales, it was established that ITP systems are not founded on evidence-based research, the teacher workforce is unbalanced and fails to recruit candidates from ethnic backgrounds, the content of initial teacher education is often outdated, and beginning teachers are often hit with “reality shock” when entering the profession due to insufficient practical training.

As far as solutions are concerned, the OECD calls for a coherent research strategy to create evidence-informed ITP systems and the dissemination of robust ITP policies through strategic partnerships and the sharing of best practices. This report also underscores the need for diversified ITP data to forecast workforce needs, a more appealing initial teacher education programme, and a more attractive teaching profession, and warns against quick-fix solutions such as hiring unqualified teachers.

Furthermore, the OECD promotes the creation of a platform for dialogue between schools, teacher education institutions and teacher education trade unions, to discuss what knowledge and competences are relevant for teacher candidates and teachers.

Lastly, the OECD advises policy makers, teacher education institutes and schools to facilitate the early stages of teachers’ careers by implementing mentoring schemes and introducing more practical subjects which help teachers deal with the realities of the classroom.

ETUCE acknowledges that teachers across Europe are facing similar challenges to those outlined in this report. In 2018, ETUCE published practical guidelines on how to represent effectively teachers’ professional needs within the unions’ capacity and social dialogue structures, in which it refers to many of the solutions put forward by the OECD, namely the need for continuous professional development based on sound research, trainings which cater for the needs of teachers and the recruitment of qualified-only teachers.

Likewise, ETUCE demands to increase the status of the teaching profession and is currently running a campaign entitled “Shape the Future of Europe with Teachers”, which stresses, among others, more sustainable public funding for education in order to improve the attractiveness of the profession and recruit and retain the most highly qualified teaching professionals.