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NCEE’s Report from the 2020 Virtual Meeting of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession

In this report, NCEE recaps the 2020 virtual meeting of International Summit on the Teaching Profession that brought together education leaders from government and teachers unions from 35 leading countries: the 30 highest performing and five fastest improving on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam.

Educators around the world are asking themselves how to safely and responsibly open schools, but also grappling with the reality that as the coronavirus pandemic continues in much of the world, schools may never look the same as they did just months ago. Even as many educators are acknowledging the value of in-person learning, many are also accelerating discussions about what education should look like in the future.

NCEE has been thoroughly exploring how high-performing education systems have adapted to distance learning and how they are thinking long-term about future education redesign. NCEE participates regularly in global convenings of academics, educators, and thought leaders to anticipate what the future may hold, and to translate their thinking into actionable policy and practice recommendations for our partners.

On June 2, 2020, NCEE’s President and CEO Anthony Mackay moderated the 2020 International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP). This event, originally intended to take place in Valencia, Spain, was instead convened virtually by Education International, the Organisation for Economic Co-operations and Development (OECD), and Spain’s Ministry of Education. The virtual meeting brought together education leaders from government and teachers unions from 35 leading countries: the 30 highest performing and five fastest improving on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam.

Across education systems, public recognition of teachers' invaluable expertise and professionalism is at a high point.

Four key themes emerged from the discussion:

  • First, high-quality, mutually respectful collaboration between governments and the teaching profession has been essential to respond to the pandemic.
  • Second, there have been many promising innovations that have emerged in response to the need for distance learning, but the pandemic has also reinforced the value of in-person schooling.
  • Third, teacher collaboration has become even more essential as teachers have been forced to transition to unfamiliar virtual learning spaces, and policies to enable teachers to work together as professionals will be crucial.
  • And fourth and most important, the pandemic has exposed longstanding inequities in education to a degree that has been eye-opening for all of us, and systems must adapt to become more inclusive and equitable moving forward.

This report summarizes NCEE’s key takeaways from the 3-hour discussion of Ministers of Education and teachers’ union leaders. The report also contains short “Snapshots” which highlight what several of the participating jurisdictions have done to promote teacher professionalism, and the role their unions have played in that process.