Setting the benchmark


20 April 2020

Education unions have taken the lead to set benchmarks for quality teaching worldwide in a move to promote quality education for all.

Education International (EI), the global federation of education unions, and UNESCO launched a joint framework that defines quality teaching to encourage all countries to either review their own standards or develop new ones.

EI president and AEU federal secretary Susan Hopgood says the Global Framework of Professional Teaching Standards is based on teachers’ experience of what constitutes effective and ethical practice in the profession.

“[Teachers] care deeply about the status of our profession and about the quality of the education provided to our students,” Hopgood said at the launch in Paris late last year, adding that it was essential educators were provided a seat at the table when policy decisions were made.

The framework aims to improve teacher quality, teaching and learning, and support the monitoring and implementation of the teacher target in the Education 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Hopgood says that, apart from raising the teaching and learning bar in many countries, schools and classrooms, the new standards would also help strengthen teacher education and development programs.

But the framework should not be seen as a “managerial tool for controlling or punishing teachers”, says Hopgood.

“It’s a fireguard against deprofessionalisation and a catalyst for improving teacher professionalism and practice,” she says

Educators in Africa and Asia Pacific countries have warned about the “pressing need” to fight deprofessionalisation, EI general secretary David Edwards and UNESCO assistant director general for education Stefania Giannini write in a forward to the framework.


“Quality education depends on quality teachers with high qualifications and expertise, not some quick-fix, fast-track system designed to get teachers in and out of the classroom in short bursts, creating system churn and failing to provide clear career pathways that lead to a fulfilling lifetime in teaching,” they write.

The authors say it is therefore critical to address not only teacher pay and conditions, but to “empower and support teachers to stand at the centre of what they do – the teaching and learning process”.

The framework – which has 10 standards across the three domains of knowledge and understanding, practice (pedagogy) and teaching relations (professional relationships) – has already been adopted by the EI World Congress, held in July in Bangkok. There, discussions again centred on the importance of teachers and unions working with governments and other education stakeholders on decisions that critically affect them.

“Professional teaching standards designed with the aim to define what quality teaching means for delivering quality education are a powerful instrument in the hands of educators,” said Giannini at the framework launch.

Edwards and Giannini added that the development of a global framework of would mean that “teachers and their unions stand over their profession as guardians of ethics and the defenders of standards that work for teachers and their students.”

This article was originally published in The Australian Educator, Spring 2019