Professional certification for all Sweden’s teachers by 1st July 2012: Are the initial years in the teaching profession facilitated by compulsory mentorship for newly qualified teachers? Professional certification is to be introduced for all Sweden’s teachers in 2012 • This step was taken in the spring government bill in which the government proposed to invest 250 billion SEK. • According to the government, attraction to the teaching profession has been steadily diminishing and now constitutes a serious problem for Sweden. In the government’s opinion, safeguarding quality in the teaching profession is primarily about • the control of teachers’ practice of the profession, • the development of the teaching profession and • information about the teaching profession. Professional certfication will • increase the quality of the teaching in preschools and schools, i.e. more children and young people would reach the goals set and standards in preschools and schools would be improved. • contribute to the recruitment of teachers with a higher level of professional competence, in a so-called qualification ladder: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. basic teacher education, an induction or probationary year with renewed assessment, practical teaching duties, application to become a certified teacher and appointment to senior master/mistress if the teacher obtains a licentiate degree or PhD. New Education Act 2009/10:165 The government also tightens qualification requirements in the new Education Act, which in practice more or less prevents unqualified teachers from working in school. • Government Bill 2009/10:165 Den nya skollagen för kunskap, valfrihet och trygghet [The new Education Act – for knowledge, choice and security]. International out look • In its proposal the government also points out that other countries have introduced similar systems and that Sweden should also introduce a corresponding certification system. • The government compares with Canada and Scotland. Are An improved teacher education • The government has also put forward a bill relating to an improved teacher education, which constitutes yet another important advancement in quality for the Swedish education system and that is referred to in the professional certification as an essential prerequisite. • Government Bill 2009/10:89 Bäst i klassen - en ny lärarutbildning [Best in the class – a new teacher education] Professional certification and professional development • Are the initial years in the teaching profession facilitated by compulsory mentorship for newly qualified teachers? • How will professional certification affect newly qualified teachers’ professional development? Support to professional development? • The Education Act does not allow any teachers to teach subjects or activities that they are not qualified in or for. • This may affect new teachers positively, because it is a well-known fact that teachers who teach subjects for which they have no qualifications have greater difficulties in practising their profession than other new teachers. Support to Newly Qualified teachers • An induction period of one year with support from a mentor is to be introduced for all teachers and will be compulsory. • This is both good and logical in terms of what research has revealed about the initial period as a newly qualified teacher. Further assessment? • The newly qualified teacher will also be further assessed by the head teacher of the school, who will have an opportunity to make yet another assessment of suitability of the already qualified teacher. • From the new teacher’s point of view the head teacher’s role is often very peripheral and face-to-face contact sporadic. Qualified support, not renewed examination and assessment • The next question to ask is what kind of problems certification for newly qualified teachers will solve? • New teachers need on the part of head teachers without adequate education and training and/or experience in assessing teachers’ professional development. Summary and questions to discuss Professional certification for all Sweden’s teachers by 1st July 2012: Are the initial years in the teaching profession : facilitated by for instance compulsory mentorship for newly qualified teachers?