Teachers face exams for super status;International news;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
ITALY

David Newbold on plans to give 150,000 staff a pound;2,000 rise and a career structure UP TO 20 per cent of staff will be able to apply for superteacher

status and an extra pound;2,000 a year, under reforms aimed at intro-

ducing a professional career structure.

Revealing the criteria for promotion, the education ministry said that, unlike their British counterparts, would-be Italian superteachers must have been in service for at least 10 years, and they will have to sit a special exam.

Local appointment boards will be set up to interview candidates and organise the exams. The first step will be a discussion of the candidate's teaching experience. This will be followed by a multiple-choice test, with 70 questions on the teacher's own subject and a common core of 30 questions on general aspects of teaching. The test is intended to evaluate the teacher's practical competence rather than theoretical knowledge.

The final stage in the selection process involves observation of a lesson - but only if the teacher agrees. Perhaps in tacit recognition of the fact that most teachers have never been formally observed in their career, shy candidates can opt for a discussion of a lesson plan.

Whichever option is chosen, the final stage will carry the heaviest weighting, with 50 per cent of the overall mark.

About 150,000 superteachers are expected to be appointed over the coming year, with the number eventually rising to a maximum 30 per cent of the total workforce if funds allow.

The mass promotion will effectively create a two-tier profession in a system which has previously offered no career advancement for motivated teachers.

Posts of special responsibility are also now given financial recognition in the teachers' contract. Known as funzioni obiettivi, they are elected by school councils and paid an extra pound;1,500 a year.

The careers shake-up has been given a guarded welcome by the profession.

One schools inspector said that he feared the creation of superteachers and said that funzioni obiettivi was already creating a climate of "cannibalism" as teachers vie with colleagues in the scramble for cash.

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