Educators and rapid change: a proposed way forward

A look at a comprehensive blueprint designed to empower students, educators, and institutions to thrive in the 21st century.

Society has changed. We’ll gain no brownie points for originality in that statement, especially not from our educators, who witness this change first-handedly, every single day.

“In an era characterised by rapid technological advancements, globalisation, and unprecedented societal changes, the importance of a robust and forward-thinking education system cannot be overstated.”

This better-versed take on our blunt statement can be found in Malta’s National Education Strategy 2024-2030, “a comprehensive blueprint designed to empower students, educators, and institutions to thrive in the 21st century”.

This strategy document has been issued by the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research, and Innovation. The document is called National Education Strategy 2024-2030 – Visioning the Future by Transforming Education and is currently available for public consultation.

During the pre-consultation meetings that were held to be able to publish this document, the Ministry concurrently executed a mapping exercise including all initiatives in the education system, ranging from childcare to tertiary settings. A 76-page document, the strategy highlights the significance of educators in not only providing pedagogical and instructional assistance, but also essential support outside the home.

It recognises education as a key sector for societal well-being and social resilience. Educators, seen as primary role models, influence the mindset of children, adolescents, and young adults towards learning and lifelong learning.

A specific focus on educators’ wellbeing

The challenges faced by educators are listed in the document, and they include demographic shifts in the classroom, diverse student needs, and the impact of social media. The document states that the proposed changes are aimed to provide necessary support to help educators adapt to these challenges. The underlying thought is that enhanced support will enable educators to foster a positive ethos within their classrooms and schools.

The document underscores the intrinsic connection between high-quality education and educators’ well-being, asserting that a satisfied workforce contributes to students’ sense of belonging in schools. The commitment is not only to improve job satisfaction among educators but also to attract new professionals to join the teaching profession.

The Journal looked into this specific aspect of the document. Here it is in a nutshell.

  • More support for more job satisfaction.

The document outlines a strategy aimed at enhancing support for educators to boost their job satisfaction.

It includes a shift towards a Peer Support Programme for newly qualified teachers, with increased involvement from the Faculty of Education. It also includes the introduction and development of professional supervision services for educators facing challenges.

It proposes a wellbeing programme for School Leadership Teams (a group of people who develop educational policies for their school). There’s also a proposal for the revision of the Behaviour Management Framework, that needs to address current behavioral challenges.

The document calls for a Standard Operating Procedure outlining legal assistance for educators after school-related incidents, including social media attacks and incidents outside working hours.

  • Helping educators have a say when policies are made.

The proposal advocates for a more active role of educators in the policy development cycle. This involves scheduling quarterly meetings between Senior Leadership Teams, Directors General, and the Office of the Permanent Secretary. The outcomes of these meetings will be communicated to all schools.

Additionally, a pre-consultation mechanism will be introduced as a mandatory step in policy development, supported by an official Standard Operating Procedure. A specialised team will be established to ensure the regularity of the pre-consultation process, generating data that informs the Ministry’s decision-making cycle.

  • Improving the image of the teaching profession.

The proposal suggests implementing a targeted promotional campaign to enhance the image of the teaching profession as part of the Ministry of Education’s human capital planning. This involves designing a Profession Promotion plan aimed at two specific audiences: (a) students in higher education, and (b) older adult learners seeking job mobility.

Additionally, the plan includes the evolution of a Recognition and Appreciation Plan for educators, incorporating structured mechanisms for sharing best practices within the education community and the public, especially those embracing digital technologies. The proposal also outlines a revision of the aims, function, and remit of the Council for the Teaching Profession.

Furthermore, the document emphasises the importance of simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on educators, acknowledging the importance of creating a more supportive and streamlined environment for teaching professionals.

  • Reducing administrative burden on teachers.

The proposal advocates for simplifying and reducing the administrative burden on educators through the implementation of a Simplification and Digitalisation Action Plan. This plan aims to leverage technology to assist with repetitive and time-consuming tasks, streamlining administrative processes for educators.

In addition, the proposal suggests evaluating the College system to identify improvements that can better support schools. This includes a thorough assessment of the existing structure and processes to enhance overall effectiveness.

Furthermore, the proposal recommends a re-conceptualisation and re-design of the School Council after a pre-consultation process involving educators and school leadership. The objective is to strengthen the connection between the school and home, fostering a more collaborative and supportive relationship.

  • Addressing current challenges more relevantly.

The proposal focuses on improving the quality of training for educators by providing more relevant and evidence-based programs that address current challenges. This involves a collaborative effort with the University of Malta (UoM), the Institute for Education (IfE), and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) to revise the Initial Teacher Education programmes.

Additionally, there is a plan to revise the programmes offered for educators’ continuous professional development. The emphasis is on keeping educators equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective teaching in the dynamic educational landscape.

  • Streamlining the opportunities in digital literacy.

The proposal suggests consolidating professional development opportunities in digital literacy and technology-enhanced learning. This consolidation aims to streamline and organise the various training options available to educators in these areas. Additionally, there is a focus on enhancing the quality of continuous professional development training, specifically targeting the latest emerging technologies. The goal is to provide support to educators in acquiring digital competencies that not only enhance their pedagogical skills but also contribute to the improvement of their overall professional practice. This approach reflects a commitment to keeping educators well-equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate and leverage technology effectively in the field of education.

Adaptability is key.

The document is clear on the importance of adapting to change: “Adaptability will be key in the next years, not only in terms of skills and competences, but also as a prerequisite to maintain a healthy mental state.”

Whilst we have shed light on the plans to safeguard the wellbeing of educators, the document gives a detailed account on the wellbeing of learners, under Pillar 1, that is exclusively dedicated to wellbeing. Pillar 2 concerns growth and empowerment, and Pillar 3 concerns equity and inclusion.

The public is being invited to have its say by the 13th February and the document may be accessed here.

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