Investing in teachers analysed Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) experience and identified lessons for improving teacher development policies and programs. The evaluation provides a typology of intervention options, in-depth case studies and contrasting cases to highlight achievements and challenges in different development contexts.

The evaluation found:
• there is no single best approach to investing in teachers; the choice of pre-service and/or in-service approaches depends on context-specific needs, and readiness to sustain the approach
• DFAT’s experience provides valuable lessons compared to what the literature suggests is ‘good practice’, and highlights the difficult trade-offs which must sometimes be made
• teacher development works best when embedded in improved teacher management systems—which includes all aspects of attracting, recruiting, qualifying, deploying, retaining and effectively supporting teachers and their performance in classrooms
• education personnel at all levels need to support improved teaching and learning for sustainable change
• DFAT needs to strengthen its teacher development designs, especially to ensure the approach suits particular teaching and learning challenges in each context—such as low literacy and numeracy of teachers and pupils, multi-lingual and multi-grade teaching, and disability-inclusive education
• DFAT had almost no data on outcomes that could be attributed to teacher development interventions—this suggests a need to improve monitoring and evaluation to understand whether teacher development investments are ‘making a difference’ to teaching practices and pupils’ learning outcomes.

DFAT has accepted the report’s three recommendations, and has committed to specific actions to implement the responses. These include planned follow-on evaluations (initially in Timor Leste and Laos) to understand the effects of teacher development investments on teaching practices and pupils’ learning outcomes.

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