There is a global shortage of teachers coming into the profession, and high numbers leaving after a short time in the classroom. Given that the quality of teachers ultimately underpins a country’s economy through its future workforce and the intellectual property they create, the quality and impact of teacher training is an issue for us all.

At the ResearchED Rugby conference last year we asked educationalists what great teachers needed – you can see the videos here. They concluded that as well as subject knowledge, student engagement and classroom management, teachers also needed to be able to work together and be curious and engaged in learning throughout their careers. I’ve also spent time recently talking with current ITT students to see how their training matches up to this.

It seems clear that three key changes have to be made

  • Lesson observation needs to become far more meaningful;
  • Schools need to use the potential of EdTech to provide more support to trainee teachers for longer and,
  • On- and off-line communities of teachers need to be developed and supported for all.

This seems to be born out in the Government’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy and Early Careers Framework (ECF).

But how can this be delivered in practice?

In this article, we look at how global communities are springing up to support teacher training and how we can best develop them. Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you receive the next articles in this series as well as the latest evidence on classroom observation. Or read the first in the series on meaningful lesson observation, here.

Solution 1: Global Communities

It wasn’t a surprise to see last week that COBIS, the international school network, is setting up its own teacher training scheme. It was also hugely pleasing to see that schools in Asia, Africa and Europe will be working with UK universities to deliver high-quality training, reflecting the high esteem that UK initial teacher training is held in around the world.

Why was this not a surprise? Partly because we’re just putting the finishing touches to our first international case study – showing that it is perfectly possible to deliver effective teacher coaching over thousands of miles without face to face contact. And partly because, as COBIS point out, teaching is becoming an increasingly international job, with a projected 230,000 teachers working in British International schools within the next ten years!

These new, global teachers will need support through all parts of their career – but especially so in the early stages, as trainees and newly qualified teachers.

A range of communities would be able to help them:

1. Training communities
Online learning (as well as online observation and coaching) is going to have to be a major part of global learning – the cost of sending students or teachers thousands of miles more than once or twice per year is prohibitive. It will be vital for these trainees to have common terminology to describe their practice (and we’d also suggest training in ‘professional noticing’) – but once this has been achieved, they will be able to learn from a huge community of peers. Specialist subject or sector groups will help them convey tricky concepts and discuss what went right (or wrong) in the last lesson!

2. Mentoring communities
In our last article, we discussed the idea of a new career as an online teacher coach. What if these coaches could be linked up together to share new ideas, conduct large-scale research and identify specialist support for trainees for example with SEN issues – in the same way that global IT support networks can bring specialists to help with technical issues.

3. Social communities
Outside of the formal requirements of the job, global teachers will need to network with other teachers, find friends in new places, access jobs and more. Existing social networks such as Facebook or Twitter could be useful, but teachers looking to ‘wall’ themselves off from students or parents could try Teaglo – the ‘teacher social network’ which is already filling up with international teachers!


Have a look at our case studies >> and what we have done so far, we will shortly be publishing other ones to evidence what can be achieved through international collaboration.

If you would like to get involved with our work in this area and help trial our solutions please get in touch.