Dr. Elizabeth Hidson, Senior Lecturer in International Initial Teacher Training, visited Avenor in April and shared with us some of her findings in best practices when it comes to teachers training around the world. 

In Avenor she was impressed by the ‘Teachers for Teachers’ Programme and the complexity of the Teachers Capabilities Framework – an instrument created to guide each teacher in their own professional growth. 


Could you share a little bit of your experience with us? It must be fascinating to travel around the world and keep an eye on innovation in schools that could really create an impact. 

I’ve been in education for about 25 years. The first part of my career was in schools, as a school leader or in curriculum development, but I’m always a person who asks why? Why do we do this? 

And even 25 years ago I used to ask for evidence of why I should do a particular thing because as a person who was designing the curriculum, who was looking at school improvement school leadership, I always felt that we needed a very secure reason for doing certain things.

My day job is international initial teacher training, developing new teachers. On the other hand, I’m a research and knowledge exchange fellow.

The University of Sunderland has given me time and funding to find interesting and innovative things that I can be involved with, that would bring improvements that could then be identified as having an impact. 

My particular belief is that schools and teachers have the capacity to identify their own areas for development through evaluation, through action, through evidence informed practice, taking the best of what we know from education research, and taking what we understand of the context because the context is very important.

Pedagogy, theory and quality – all together in ‘Teachers for Teachers’ programme 

One of the things I’ve seen in Avenor is the ‘Teachers for Teachers’ programme.  It is as good as any school based initial teacher training that I’ve seen anywhere, because it’s really well thought through, the pedagogy, the theory and the quality are all there.

The really nice thing about the ‘Teachers for Teachers’ programme is that it’s not just a programme, it’s a two year programme with very high-quality experiences for them. I think these teachers are very lucky!

It’s very common for teachers to go and be in the school training up throughout the year; it’s usually one year full-time with or without payment. What I do is partner the university with schools to provide that practical input so that teachers are getting both. If they’re planning to be internationally mobile they need an understanding of where they’re going to work and the teacher registration requirements which vary. 

What else besides the ‘Teachers for Teachers’ programme draws your attention in Avenor? 

I’ve looked at the Teacher’s Capability Framework. Very interesting. You’ve got the idea of the novice and the expert and then if you start to think about impact and again, in the ecosystem of a school you’ve got things happening at the individual teacher level, at the department level, at the school level, and beyond. So there’s logic in the way that it is structured.

The nice thing about looking at the Teacher’s Capability Framework is that every time I pushed into it and thought about something and dropped new ideas in, it worked. I couldn’t find anything that was broken. It works really well together. I was making sure that you’ve got things growing vertically as well as so that you get better and better as an individual as well. Getting better and better as a member of a team, as a department, as a school and beyond.

We can do a lot of good in the classroom, but sometimes there’s a limit to sharing that so the next level is where you start to share things with other people, with other teams, with the departments and then macro sharing it in the whole school and outside of the school, like in the OECD project. It’s very interesting working with a global collective of schools to contribute to the development of something internationally robust.

We pay forward in education

I believe that parents that have access for their children to schools that invest a lot in teachers’ innovation are lucky  that they have this type of access but sometimes it’s very hard to explain all of this good and valuable work to parents. They have different ways to look at education. 

Maybe there was one teacher 20 years ago who said something and now you realise – my goodness that teacher had belief in me.

I think that the wonderful thing about internationally minded looking education is that you see yourself not just as an individual, but that you see yourself within a community, within a society and then to be able to give back to society to your country, to region. 

I think researchers and sometimes teachers tend to say this is this and it’s the right way to do it.  But I think it’s more important to foster enquiry, engage with an opinion.  

I think you are very lucky to be in a community where everybody is trying, testing, thinking twice. It counts a lot because it drives you to think it’s the same with teachers.  The sort of environments where teachers flourish are the places where there is club involvement and the communication with the community is very strong.  

I’ve lost track of how many schools I visited over the years, perhaps hundreds and hundreds of schools. And you walk into the school and then I think the test is: would you work here? Would you like your children to be here?