Publication - Research and analysis

Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century

Published: 1 Oct 2010

The overall aim of this literature review is to understand the contribution that teacher education can make to the quality and effectiveness of the educational experience and wider personal development of young people, drawing on effective practice in Scotland and elsewhere.

104 page PDF

943.7 kB

104 page PDF

943.7 kB

Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century

104 page PDF

943.7 kB




This column draws on the INCA Recent Education Reforms Comparative Tables, 2009,


This column draws from Bradshaw et al (2007abc); OECD (2004; 2007); Office for National Statistics (2202ab); Scottish Executive, 2004; Ruzzi (2006); Sheil and Cheevers, (2007);Thorpe (2004); The Scottish Government (2007).


This column draws on research and policy documents from the comparator systems (as cited below).


Full implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, 3-18 ( SEED, 2004) from 2010. Priorities for CfE: A commitment to consultation and stakeholder engagement; de-cluttering of the curriculum; improving transitions between stages of schooling; tackling disengagement in the middle years (11-14 years); tackling the 'opportunity gap'; improving opportunities for vocational education (14-16 age group). Four capacities: to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, confident individual, responsible citizen and effective contributor.

Scotland's performance in 2003 for Mathematics, Reading, and Science was significantly above the OECD average. In these three areas, only three educational systems (always including Finland and Korea) have mean scores that are (statistically) significantly higher than Scotland's.

In PISA 2006, Scotland's performance in Maths and Reading was above the OECD average whereas in Science, it remained significantly higher than the OECD mean score. A slight decline in the mean scores from PISA 2003 to 2006 in Maths and Reading was observable.

  • Routes: BEd, PGDE, concurrent degrees. Few part time routes. Development of master's level credit within PGDE at universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen. Scottish Teachers for a New Era ( STNE) at Aberdeen University. Some Gaelic medium provision at Aberdeen & Strathclyde.
  • Seven university providers, plus the Open University. HEI-led school-university partnership arrangements.
  • Teacher Induction scheme introduced in 2002. Chartered Teacher programme introduced in 2003.
  • First Stage Review of ITE by the Scottish Executive was completed in 2001; The Second Stage Review of Initial Teacher Education reported in 2005 ( SEED, 2005).
  • Chartered teacher programme introduced 2003.



Consultation on the future National Curriculum for the 21 st Century commenced in 2008.

National curriculum to be introduced in four subject areas in 2011 - English, mathematics, science and history.

The draft senior secondary curriculum was released in May 2010.

Influenced by the New Basics programme, Queensland (Lingard et al, 2003) and the Essential Learnings curriculum framework, Tasmania (Melville, 2008).

National assessment and reporting programme to accompany new national curriculum.

High average performance ( PISA). Australia performed above the OECD average in PISA 2003 Mathematics, Reading and Science scales. (They were all not significantly different from Scotland's mean scores).

Similarly, Australia remained above the OECD average in PISA 2006 for these three areas. (Of the three subjects, Australia's mean score was not significantly different from Scotland's except in Mathematics where it scored significantly higher than Scotland). There was a notable decline in Australia's reading performance scores between PISA 2000 and 2006.

  • Routes: Four year, double-degree and one year ITT programmes.
  • National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching produced in 2003. (
  • Strong 'practice-based' school-university partnership arrangements.
  • Across the states & territories in Australia a variety of initiatives operate at accomplished teacher level e.g. the Victorian Experienced Teacher with Responsibility & the Western Australian Level 3 Classroom Teacher Position (see Kleinhenz and Ingvarson, 2004). The Advanced Skills Teacher grade was not widely adopted in the late 1980s.
  • The Rewarding Quality Teaching Research Report (Daniels, 2009) proposed a four band teaching career structure in which Accomplished and Lead Teacher roles will have pay points of twice the starting salary and 2.5 times the starting salary respectively. The report acknowledges that there is currently insufficient work on the measurement of teaching standards. In common with concerns in the US, this report identifies a need for strategies to ensure an equitable distribution of exemplary teachers across schools. (see


National, local and school-based curriculum system.

Protocol of collaboration across provinces.

Influence of 'travelling' 'Essential Learnings' curriculum framework, Tasmania (Melville, 2008).

Pan-Canadian Assessment Programme ( PCAP) tests in reading, maths and scene introduced in 2007.

High average performance ( PISA). In PISA 2003, Canada scored significantly above the OECD average in Mathematics and Science (but not significantly different from Scotland) and significantly above the OECD average in Reading (with a significantly higher mean score than Scotland).

Canada's performance in PISA 2006 also showed that their mean scores were significantly higher than both the OECD average and Scotland's. Canada is one of the six highest scoring countries for PISA 2006.

  • Routes: Four pathways in ITE: consecutive, concurrent, graduate and sole degree models (see Gambhir et al, 2008).
  • Responsibility vested in the ten provinces and three territories (Crocker and Dibbon, 2008). The provincial government licenses teachers graduating from university-based teacher education programme (55 HEI providers). A College of Teachers accredits teacher education programmes in two provinces: Ontario and British Columbia.
  • Teachers are prepared to teach one or two stages: primary, middle, secondary academic/vocational.


The Early Years Foundation Stage ( EYFS) and a new national curriculum for secondary schools (Key Stages 3 and 4) came into force in 2008.

Following three major reviews of the primary curriculum in 2009 19, the revised primary curriculum was published in 2010. In June 2010 the Coalition government announced that it did not intend to implement the new primary curriculum (

National Standard Assessment Tasks ( SAT) for pupils aged 7 ( KS1) and 11 ( KS2) and performance tables. End of KS3 science tests in 2010, replaced by national sampling. National tests at KS3 replaced by teacher assessment in 2008.

Assessment for Learning Strategy ( DCSF, 2008) (

England's scores for Reading, Mathematics and Science in PISA 2000 were significantly above the OECD average.

England's mean score for Science in PISA 2006 was significantly higher than the OECD average. The mean score for Mathematics was not significantly different from the OECD average. Although the mean score for Reading was slightly above the OECD average, the difference was not statistically significant.

In PISA 2006 there is no significant difference between the mean scores of England and Scotland in Science, Mathematics, and Reading.


National Framework Curriculum introduced in 1994.

Basic School Curriculum Framework revised in 2004. Collaborative system of curriculum reform.

Tradition of school-based curriculum development.

Consistent high performance in PISA assessment tests in reading, mathematics and scientific literacy. In 2003 Finland was the highest performing educational system in Reading and Science. It was the second highest performer in on Mathematics scale.

In PISA 2006, Finland was the highest performing educational system in Science and second in Reading and Mathematics. Finnish students were also the Top Readers when both PISA 2000 and 2003 were taken into account.

  • Routes: Bachelor-masters system. Pre-school teachers hold a bachelor's degree in educational science. Secondary teachers complete a Master's degree in the subject they teach as well as pedagogical studies.
  • Final Report of the Teacher Training Development Programme (2006) (
  • Entrance requirements follow a two-step process: (1) national multiple choice assessment of literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills; (2) university selection procedures based on communication skills, motivation and academic ability.
  • Professional Development Schools operate. 'Osaava Verme' is a national programme for developing mentoring to support early career teachers.
  • Students complete small-scale pedagogical inquiries before submitting a research-based Master's thesis (Ostinelli, 2009).


New programmes of study were introduced for primary schools in 2008 (reduced school week and introduction of personalised coaching) and secondary schools in 2009. Socle commun (common core) published 2006.

In PISA 2003, France scored significantly above the OECD average in Mathematics (but significantly lower than Scotland) and Science (not significantly different to Scotland). France's reading score was better than its PISA 2000 score but not significantly different to the 2003 OECD average (but significantly lower than Scotland). France's mean scores in PISA 2006 in the three subjects lay on the OECD average (either lower or not significantly different from Scotland).

  • Routes: ITE provided through the IUFM (Instituts Universitaires de Formation des Maîtres) and the (highly selective) Grandes Ecoles. One year of training following a three year Bachelor's degree.
  • Recent reforms of initial teacher training: universitisation and Masters level entry from 2010.
  • Entry to the profession is regulated through a national competitive exam and scores can influence a teacher's level of salary on appointment. (


The 'primo ciclo' (first cycle) of education was introduced in 2004 (five years of primary education and three years of lower secondary).

National curriculum but recent moves towards decentralisation and increased autonomy for schools.

Italy scored significantly lower than the PISA 2003 OECD average in Reading, Mathematics and Science (although there was significant improvement on the 2000 Science mean score).

Similarly, in 2006 Italy's scores in the three areas were significantly lower than both the OECD average and Scotland.

  • Routes: Two-year postgraduate ITT for secondary: diploma di specializzazione. Four year simultaneous degree for pre-primary and primary ITT. 3+2 model recommended.
  • In Italy serving teachers are recruited to act as supervisors for school practice. Supervisors are appointed on a part time basis (their teaching commitment is halved) for between two to four years by a panel of university and school administration representatives. Supervisor appointments cannot be renewed for a further four years to ensure that supervisors retain recent and relevant experience.
  • The University of Milan-Bicocca has pioneered teacher preparation 'laboratories' - experimental learning courses that facilitate small group inquiry, reflection and collaboration (Moon et al, 2003).


Education Reform Plan for the 21st Century announced in 2001.

Curriculum reform to include reduction in content, increased emphasis on problem solving, integration of IT in student learning and expansion of elective studies.

New curriculum guidelines for elementary schools in 2011, junior high schools in 2012 and high schools 2013.

High average performance ( PISA). In PISA 2003, Japan scored significantly higher than the OECD average in Science (their mean score was significantly higher than Scotland's), Mathematics (the mean score was not significantly different from Scotland's), and Reading (the mean score was lower than Scotland's). Based on PISA 2003, Japan was one of the top three countries in scientific literacy.

For PISA 2006, Japan scored significantly higher than the OECD average (and Scotland) in Science and Maths. In Reading, its mean score was on the OECD average and was not significantly different from Scotland. Japan was among the six highest scoring countries in 2006.

  • Routes: Four-year ITT courses. HEI-based.
  • Teaching has a strong collaborative ethos and this is reflected in lower contact hours but comparatively high working hours.
  • In their first year teachers spend up to two days each week in one-to-one coaching with 'guidance teachers' in their classrooms.
  • The practice of 'lesson study' enables groups of teachers to work together to refine lessons and improve practice. The sharing of 'best practice' is afforded a high value.
  • Introduction of teacher qualification renewal system (


Development and dissemination of information about curricula through SLO, the Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development.

High performance. High degree of institutional stratification.

In PISA 2003, the Netherlands performed significantly better than the OECD average in Mathematics (significantly better than Scotland), Reading and Science (neither significantly different from Scotland).

In PISA 2006 the Netherland's performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science were all significantly above the OECD average. (Reading and Science scores were not significantly different from Scotland's).

  • Routes: Bachelor-masters system from 2002.
  • The Dutch Association for Teacher Education has developed a professional standard for teacher educators, which is applicable teacher educators based in higher education institutions and schools.
  • Alternative certification programmes from 2007 to counteract projected teacher shortages (Brouwer, 2007).

New Zealand

A review of the school curriculum was undertaken 2000-2002.

A revised curriculum was published in 2006. The New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for Consultation.

New curriculum introduced from 2007.

National Assessment strategy introduced in 1999.

High average performance. New Zealand performed significantly above the OECD average in PISA 2003 Mathematics, Reading and Science; (they were not significantly different from Scotland's mean score).

With PISA 2006, New Zealand acquired a significantly higher mean score than either the OECD average or Scotland's mean score in all three areas. New Zealand is one of the six highest scoring countries for PISA 2006.

  • Routes: One and four year primary ITT, one or two year postgraduate secondary Diploma ITT.
  • Range of providers: colleges of education, universities, polytechnics and private tertiary education providers/teacher training establishments.
  • Bilingual and Maori-medium education.
  • Revised Professional Standards from 2010.
  • Teachers Council piloting induction and mentoring programmes (2009-2010) and trialling Draft Guidelines for Mentor Teacher Development (

Northern Ireland

Revised national curriculum from September 2007.

Introduction of the Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1.Introduction of Citizenship education and MFL in primary curriculum.

Re-organisation of secondary education to include entitlement to blended pathways of academic and vocational learning.

Move towards a generic 'skills-based', as opposed to a subject-based, curriculum. Subjects considered as 'stands' within 'Learning Areas'. Emphasis on linkage.

New curricular areas: citizenship, employability, personal planning (Learning for Life and Work).

Statutory Curriculum and Assessment change from September 2006 ( CCEA).

New framework for achievement ( CCEA, 2005) to accommodate credit accumulation and transfer across programmes of study and across England, Wales and NI. (

Northern Ireland's ( NI) performance for Mathematics, Reading and Science in PISA 2000 and 2003 were significantly above the OECD average.

In PISA 2006 NI's science score was higher than the OECD average, but performance in Mathematics and Reading declined.

There is no significant difference between NI's and Scotland's performance in PISA 2006 in Science and Reading. NI's mean score for Mathematics was significantly lower than that for Scotland.



Revised curriculum in 2007. Primary & secondary curriculum organised through subjects to improve transition.

Moved away from organising the primary curriculum (ages 6-10 years) through 'areas' in 2006.

Basic skills in literacy, oracy, numeracy and ICT have been integrated into all subjects & year groups.

Norway's performance in PISA 2003 Mathematics and Science was significantly lower than the OECD Average (and also had a significantly lower mean score than Scotland). Norway's Reading score was not significantly different to the OECD average (but significantly lower than Scotland).

In PISA 2006, Norway's scores in Science and Mathematics were significantly lower than both Scotland and the OECD average. The Reading score was significantly below the OECD average.

  • Routes: four-year program for primary and lower secondary school, and a three-year program for pre-school teaching (Garm and Karlson, 2004) or one-year Practical Teacher Education (Stephens et al, 2004).
  • In Norway a state-funded national development programme Mentoring Newly Qualified Teachers was established in 2003. This allows teacher education institutions to support local authorities by offering mentor training and by developing locally based induction programmes (European Commission, 2010).
  • The value of collaborative inquiry at an early stage is emphasised (Haugaløkken & Ramberg, 2007; Maaranen & Krokfors, 2008).


Review of Primary Education in 2008.

Pre-school framework revised in 2003.

Review of upper secondary education from 2002.

Revised 16-18 curriculum introduced in 2006.

In 1997 the Thinking Schools, Learning Nation initiative was launched to increase curriculum flexibility and relevance of learning.

Continuous improvement in pupil outcomes since independence in 1965.

In a paper published by the National Center on Education and the Economy, 2006, both PISA 2000 and 2003 (and TIMSS 1995, 1999 and 2003) were analysed for mathematics and science, for which it was found that the top Mathematicians for Grade 8 and Above between 1995 and 2003 were Singaporean students (Ruzzi, 2006). Singapore participated in PISA 2009, which is yet to be published.

  • Routes: One year ( PGDE), two year (Diploma) or four year ( BA) primary ITT. One ( PGDE), two ( PGDE( PE)) and four year (Diploma Art, Music, Home Economics) secondary ITT.
  • One provider of ITE: National Institute of Education ( NIE) (
  • Post-qualification all teachers are entitled to one hundred hours of fully paid professional development per annum (McKinsey, 2007).

South Korea

Highly centralised. Statutory national curriculum revised in 2007.

From 2000, greater emphasis placed on the development of creativity with the school curriculum (3-18 years). The number of compulsory subjects in the curriculum decreased to make space for optional subjects.

High performance in international assessments. High social equity.

For PISA 2003, Korea performed significantly above than the OECD average in Mathematics, Reading and Science (also having significantly higher mean scores than Scotland). Based on PISA 2003, Korea was one of the top three countries in scientific literacy.

With PISA 2006, Korea gained mean scores that were significantly above the OECD average (Maths and Reading mean scores were significantly higher than Scotland whereas Science scores were not significantly different from Scotland). Korea also significantly increased its reading performance from PISA 2000 and was the highest performer in Reading in PISA 2006.

  • Routes: Four year ITT courses, with award of Master's degree (secondary). Over supply of secondary teachers. No probation period.
  • Applicants for primary teacher training must be placed within the top 5% of their academic cohort in the national College Entrance Examination.
  • Teachers with three years post-qualification experience are entitled to 180 hours of Ministry of Education approved training, which carries small salary increments and improved promotion prospects (Wang et al, 2003).


United States

Decentralized strategy for curriculum change and systemic instructional improvement. Standards-based education reform.

For PISA 2003, the USA performed significantly below the OECD average for Mathematics and Science whilst on the OECD average for Reading. (The mean scores for the US were all significantly lower than Scotland).

With PISA 2006, the mean score for Science and Mathematics was below the OECD average score in Mathematics. (both mean scores were significantly lower than Scotland's).

  • Routes: Deregulated system of teacher education. Over 1000 providers. Certification determined at state level. High volume of alternative routes e.g.Teach for America ( Teachers for a New Era (
  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education ( NCATE) provides guidelines to regulate national standards (
  • National Board certification system (voluntary) for recognising accomplished teachers (
  • Professional Development Schools have developed strong school-university partnership arrangements.


Introduction of pilot Welsh Baccalaureate (2003).

Parity of esteem for academic and vocational learning pathways set down in The Learning Country (2001).

Learning Pathways 14-19 offers flexible and unified framework of curricular provision.

Foundation Phase (for children aged 3-7 years) replaced the National Curriculum at Key Stage One from 2008 (based on a model of experiential learning).

Welsh is a compulsory subject for all pupils up to age 16.


Welsh students' performance in Science in PISA 2006 was relatively consistent with Scotland's. Performance in mathematics was significantly lower than that for Scotland.

Reading scores were lower when compared with all three other countries in the UK including Scotland.

(To date, only PISA 2006 data are available for Wales).

  • Routes: Variety of routes to QTS: B.Ed, BA Education, B.Sc or PGCE. GTP and RTP provision. No SCITTs scheme in Wales. An employment-based teacher training scheme ('the Scheme') came into operation in 2004 (Estyn, 2004) (
  • HEI providers (plus Open University) in three centres of teacher education: Aberystwyth and Bangor - North & Mid Wales Centre; Swansea and Carmarthen - South West Wales Centre; Newport and Cardiff - South East Wales Centre. HEI-led partnership model.
  • Reviews of ITE: Furlong Review of Initial Teacher Training ( ITT) provision in Wales reported in January 2006. A HEFCW review of ITT partnership model in Wales reported in July 2004.
  • Excellent and Innovation in ITT (Estyn, 2003 (
  • Professional Development Framework ( GTCW, 2006).
  • Pilot of the Welsh Chartered Teacher programme (Egan, 2009)