Conference report: “International Perspectives on School Quality and Teacher Education”

Presentation on the SQTE project
Report on the SQTE project in the Austrian daily newspaper “Der Standard”

Conference report: “International Perspectives on School Quality and Teacher Education”

As part of the SQTE project, the Universities of Salzburg and Oxford held a joint international conference, hosted by the University of Salzburg and attended by leading academics from the fields of school effectiveness and teacher training research.

The conference on ´International Perspectives on School Quality and Teacher Education´ took place on 26-27 March 2019 at the School of Education of the University of Salzburg. The meeting was convened by Ulrike Greiner, Burkhard Gniewosz and Roland Bernhard and organised within the framework of an existing cooperation with the University of Oxford.

The conference provided a forum for internationally leading academics working in the fields of school quality and teacher training to share views and ideas on developing quality in schools and on approaches to training for senior teachers and school leaders that are beneficial to quality development processes in school systems.

On the first day, 26 March, school quality was at the centre of interest. After words of welcome from Erich Müller, the University of Salzburg’s Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs, Pam Sammons (University of Oxford) took the floor with a keynote address on “School Effectiveness and Improvement Research”, outlining central findings from her decades of research activities in this field. Monika Mincu (University of Turin) delivered the second presentation of the meeting, an account of her research on the relationship between school quality and teacher training in Italy. Roland Bernhard (University of Salzburg) who is currently as a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford researching quality improvement in London schools, presented initial qualitative findings from his research. Hermann Astleitner (University of Salzburg) explored the topic of school effectiveness from a theoretical perspective, arguing in favour of stronger theoretical foundations for research in this area. The presentation by Michael Bruneforth and Ann Cathrice George (Federal Institute of Economic Research, Innovation and Development of the Austrian School Sector) provided an insight into the issue of school effectiveness from the point of view of educational monitoring, specifically referencing the potential for standardised testing to advance school quality. The second keynote of the day, given by Christiane Spiel (University of Vienna) and proceeding from the perspective of implementation research, examined the crucial issue of incorporating the findings of academic studies into school-based educational practice, noting potential obstacles along this route and potential ways of overcoming them.

The second day of the conference centred on teachers, the key stakeholders in the implementation of school quality on the ground, and their CPD needs in this context. The day’s first keynote saw Katharine Burn (University of Oxford) reflecting on the necessity of exposing teachers to research during their initial training and ongoing professional development and showing them ways of aligning their actions in the classroom with research findings. Claudia Schreiner (University of Innsbruck) stressed the importance of data use in school leadership and classroom teaching and its associated potential in teacher training. Hazel Hagger and John Furlong (University of Oxford) reported on their overhaul of teacher training in Wales and the associated endeavour to establish a firmer focus on research in this context. In the closing keynote, Kari Smith (University of Trondheim) discussed the benefits of cooperation between school-based and university-based teacher training and the need for both to work together in a partnership of equals.

“During the conference, it became apparent that the research areas of school quality and teacher training remain relatively detached from each other within the educational sciences and that both would benefit from closer integration. In this regard, the conference marked a starting point for attempts to address the issues in further international research collaborations, as planned in post-conference discussions.” (Roland Bernhard)