Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education
15th Session - Helsinki, Finland, 5-7 May 1987

Resolution on new challenges for teachers and their education (N1)

Resolution on European co-operation on education (N2)

Resolution on the work of the Council for Cultural Co-operation of the Council of Europe (N3)

Resolution on new challenges for teachers and their education (N1)  

(adopted during the Fifteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Helsinki, 5-7 May 1987)

The European Ministers of Education, meeting for the Fifteenth Session of their Standing Conference,

CONVINCED of the fundamental importance of promoting excellence in teaching as a means of raising the standard of education

RECOGNISING that today's teachers face a growing number of complex and difficult pressures and demands and that they should be given all possible support and encouragement to help them meet these challenges successfully

AGREEING that such support must come mainly in the form of improved initial and in-service education and training but that it also implies recognition of the vital importance of the teacher's task and the assurance of favourable working and employment conditions

WELCOMING the work done by Unesco, the ILO, OECD, the Council of Europe, the European Community and the Nordic Council of Ministers to improve teachers' education, training and working conditions, particularly through the international exchange of ideas and experience

TAKING NOTE in particular of Resolution 874 (1987) on "The quality and effectiveness of school teaching" adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 30 January 1987 ;

THANKING the international non-governmental organisations, and especially those representing teachers, for their contributions to the preparation of the Fifteenth Session in the framework of the Council of Europe;

IDENTIFY the following areas in which challenges to teachers are particularly significant for their impact on the teachers' role as professional educators and hence on initial and in-service education and training:

a. As regards the school population: the extension of compulsory schooling, the higher staying-on rate, increasing cultural diversity, changes in family structure and the trend towards the integration of children with special needs into mainstream education have all resulted in wider variety in the school population. This challenges the teacher's ability to apply differentiated teaching strategies, to motivate pupils, especially at a time of high youth unemployment, and to cope with educational and counselling problems.

b. As regards the content of education: in view of the uncertainty surrounding requirements which may emerge in the future, a broad, sound general education is the best preparation for life. Because of the growing complexity of society, the economy and technology, teachers are expected to ensure that the mass of the population is able to perform at levels of competence previously required of only a minority. The content of education has expanded with the explosion of new knowledge and skills in all fields and has become more diversified with the appearance of new subjects such as education in human rights, health, environment, computer studies, etc. Thus, teachers are required to make critical choices as to what and how they teach, but they often receive little guidance in making such choices from the set curriculum.

c. As regards alternative sources of learning: teachers face competition from "informal" and sometimes contradictory sources of information and values, particularly the mass media. They must somehow take this mass of information into consideration and above all turn it to educational account. Pupils should be taught to be discriminating when faced with this alternative information and to draw on parts of it in their learning.

d. As regards teaching methods: the introduction of new technologies at school (e.g. computers and interactive video) has affected the teaching and learning process in ways which no teacher can afford to ignore and challenges teachers to acquire higher classroom management skills.

e. As regards the school's relationship with the outside world: the opening up of the school to the outside world, which is a further important step forward in the development of an all-round education for all, represents a new challenge to teachers' pedagogical and cooperative skills. The community generally (e.g. parents, industry and commerce, trade unions and the mass media) has sought to extend its influence on education. Teachers are faced with a variety of expectations, and the results of their work are subject to conflicting judgements.

RESOLVE to promote the following principles designed both to foster teaching quality and to alleviate the difficulties facing teachers


1. Everything should be done to give teaching the image of a worthwhile occupation. A broad and sound general education should be an essential condition for admission to teaching. Attempts should be made to assess the effectiveness of different types of recruitment procedure and to identify suitable criteria on which to recruit candidates for teaching or teacher training,

2. Where teachers are in short supply in certain subjects or geographical areas (e.g. sparsely populated areas and inner cities), measures to attract them should include optimum conditions for updating knowledge and skills. Efforts should also be made to attract suitable candidates from other walks of life, in particular those seeking a change in mid-career, who can contribute to opening up the school to the outside world.

3. Given the importance of teachers as role models, every attempt should be made to redress the prevalent situation in which male teachers are underrepresented at pre-primary and primary levels and there are too few women at upper secondary level, in school leadership positions and in scientific and technological subjects.

Initial training

4. Initial training should be based on broad and sound general education.

It should give teachers the intellectual basis needed to meet new challenges in their future work in schools and to select what is essential knowledge from the mass of available information.

5. Emphasis should be placed in initial training on

i. giving student teachers the personal and social skills (eg. for communication, adaptability, creativity, self-confidence and empathy) needed for classroom management, team work and relating to parents;

ii. teaching practice and knowledge of the school system and how it works;

iii. mastery of subject disciplines and understanding of how subject knowledge can be selected, organised and transmitted, i.e. the didactic preparation of the material to be taught;

iv. philosophical reflection about values and their transmission to young people in pluralist European societies.

6. Teaching practice should form an integral part of initial training and should aim to ensure a smooth transition from training to the job so as to avoid the widely reported problem of discouragement and inability to cope on first encounter with classroom reality. Beginning teachers should be given strong support and guidance.

7. Initial training should provide a minimum degree Of familiarity with relevant educational research findings and methods and with such subjects as guidance and counselling, education for intercultural understanding, new technologies, special education, human rights and democratic citizenship, European and global awareness and health and safety education.


8. Measures to be envisaged to-alleviate unemployment among teachers, particularly those recently qualified in certain subjects and countries, should include greater mobility, both national and European, improved counselling services in teacher training institutions, more extensive contacts between these institutions and employers outside education, job-sharing arrangements, part-time work and short-term teaching contracts. Initial training based on sufficiently broad and sound general education might be the best preparation for alternative employment in case the candidate is unable to find a teaching job. Consideration might also be given to organising retraining programmes for teachers who may leave the teaching profession in mid-career, so as to enable them to obtain alternative employment.

In-service education and training (INSET)

9. The initial and in-service education of teachers should be viewed by all those concerned as an integrated whole, a form of permanent education.

10. In-service education and training should correspond in a balanced way to the needs of teachers and pupils and to the priorities of the education authorities. There should be effective coordination between those responsible for providing INSET with regard to choice of content, financing and organisation.

11. Attempts should be made at national, regional and local levels, and within the schools, to find flexible ways of giving teachers the opportunity to participate in INSET, without diminishing the number of teaching hours to which pupils are entitled.

12. INSET should as far as possible be organised in collaboration between the schools, the education authorities and the agencies used to meet the training need. Opportunities should be fostered for teachers to benefit from a wide range of expertise, including that in higher education, and from out-of-school experiences, particularly in industry and commerce.

13. There should be systematic monitoring and evaluation of INSET.

Appraisal of teaching

14. Teachers should learn to appraise their own professional performance, to identify shortcomings and to make them good, for example through in-service training.

15. In this respect, an important role of inspectors and school leaders (beads of school or department) should be to provide support and advice. Those called upon to undertake any appraisal should be specifically trained in evaluation techniques and made aware of the fact that appraisal forms an integral part of staff development work in schools.

16. Appraisal should be both positive and constructive, and teachers should be given the opportunity, through in-service training, to improve their professional skills.

17. It must be recognised that there is no hard and fast measure of good teaching, which may come in a variety of forms. Moreover, appraisal should not be based on narrow educational objectives alone such as academic achievement, but should take account of more general aims such as success in fostering the personal development of pupils and in equipping them to take an active, responsible and constructive place in society.

Teacher trainers and school leaders

18. A systematic review at national and European levels should be made of the recruitment and training of teacher trainers, who share many of the problems encountered by teachers. They should be given opportunities to maintain contact with the reality of school life.

19. Similarly, a review should be conducted at national and European levels of the training needs of head teachers (particularly in management skills), department heads, inspectors and other educational leaders, including administrators, who all play a key part in establishing optimum conditions for effective teaching and learning and in the successful implementation of innovation and reform.

Resolution on European co-operation on education (N2)  

(adopted during the Fifteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Helsinki, 5-7 May 1987)

The European Ministers of Education, meeting for the Fifteenth Session of their Standing Conference,

EXTEND THEIR SINCERE THANKS to the Finnish authorities for their generous hospitality during the Session;

THANK Unesco, OECD, the Council of Europe, the Commission of the European Communities and the Nordic Council of Ministers-for their progress reports on "European cooperation on education" covering the years 1985 and 1986 and agree to contribute to the wider dissemination of the content of these reports;

WELCOME the ongoing contacts between Unesco, OECD, the Council of Europe, the institutions of the European Communities and the Nordic Council of Ministers designed to ensure timely coordination of their activities in the educational field;

RECOGNISE the need for member States to keep constantly under review their policies on European cooperation on educational matters so as to ensure that the work of the organisations and institutions concerned is coherently programmed;

THANK Professor Eugene Egger for his valued, constructive, personal reflections on the 25-year history of the Standing Conference and analysis of member States' dissemination policies;

STRESS the vital importance of improving the dissemination of the results of the work of the organisations and institutions concerned, in particular by:

i. presenting these results in attractive form in the national languages,

ii. encouraging the mass media, in particular TV and radio, to increase their coverage of European cooperation on education,

iii. establishing effective national relays in member States including Parliaments, Ministries, professional educators, parents' associations and organisations of young people;

TAKE NOTE that a project is being conducted by the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) in the framework of the Council of Europe on how to improve he dissemination and utilisation of the results of the CDCC's work within the member States;

ENCOURAGE Unesco, OECD, the Council of Europe, the institutions of the European Communities and the Nordic Council of Ministers to continue their efforts to exchange experience regarding policies and practices on initial and continuing teacher education, and to pool and make widely available the results of their work in these fields;

Sixteenth Session

ACCEPT WITH PLEASURE the invitation of the Turkish authorities to hold the Sixteenth Session in 1989 in Istanbul;

AGREE that the Session should deal with education, new technologies and the mass media, and ask the Committee of Senior Officials to define the theme of this Session precisely;

AGREE ALSO to review the role of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education at the Sixteenth Session in the light of the function, status and periodicity of the various conferences of Ministers of Education which bear on the European area.

Resolution on the work of the Council for Cultural Co-operation of the Council of Europe (N3)  

(adopted during the Fifteenth Session of the Standing Conference of  Ministers of Education of the Council of Europe, Helsinki, 5-7 May 1987)

The European Ministers of Education, meeting for the Fifteenth Session of their Standing Conference,

NOTING that four of the main projects on education of the Council for Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe (CDCC) will end in 1986-871;

RESPONDING to the request by the CDCC for political guidance concerning the choice of the subjects of its new activities on education

INVITE the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to ask the CDCC to consider the following subjects related to the main theme of the Fifteenth Session for inclusion in its programme

i. methods of, and criteria for, teacher recruitment;

ii. the recruitment, training-and professional development of teacher trainers;

iii. the training needs of heads, school leaders, inspectors and administrators;

iv. the findings of educational research on

the appraisal of teaching performance,

the effectiveness of the various forms of INSET;

v. the training and further training of modern language teachers, including the development of foreign visits and exchanges

EXPRESS THE WISH that the CDCC should be invited to develop further its Teacher Bursaries, Scheme, which promotes exchanges of practising teachers and broadens their professional and personal horizons

SUGGEST that the following subjects should also be included in the CDCC's programme

i. the passage from upper secondary to higher education - problems, guidance and admission procedures,

ii. counselling and guidance with special reference to the personal development and motivation of young people,

iii. the teaching of mathematics, science and technologies from the primary school onwards,

iv. education and the mass medial

v. education and the family.

In preparing its new programme, the CDCC should take account of the work that has been carried out or is under way in the European Communities and in other organisations

EXPRESS THE WISH that the CDCC should also continue its work on

i. modern languages, with particular regard to the linguistic needs of a multilingual European society and to intercultural education,

ii. the pooling of the findings of educational research,

iii. adult education

WELCOME recent CDCC contacts and joint meetings on education with Eastern European countries and urge the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to identify concrete matters of common interest in the field of education and science with Eastern European countries taking into account the Third Medium-Term Plan (19871991)

RECALL the Statement on migrants' education adopted at the Fourteenth Session (Brussels, 7-9 May 1985), in particular its reference to the possible organisation of an ad hoc conference on migrants' education ;

TAKE NOTE of the Council of Europe's work on migration, community relations and education for intercultural understanding ;

CONSIDER that these matters concern both Ministries of Education and other ministries or departments ;

INVITE the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to consider instructing the appropriate intergovernmental committees to organise, preferably in 1989, a multidisciplinary conference on the educational aspects of community relations ;

SUGGEST that the conference should take account of activities carried out in member States to follow up the work of the organisations, and particularly that of the Council for Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe, on education for intercultural understanding.