In today’s rapidly changing world Germany needs excellently trained teachers which are equipped to teach a diverse range of students at a very high quality. As to guarantee the continuous improvement of German teacher education, the Federal Government and the Länder have launched a joint programme, the "Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung", a funding competition scheme to strengthen initial teacher preparation (ITP) and raise the attractiveness of teaching.
The teaching profession is a rewarding and responsible undertaking. Teachers play an active role in the lives and educational biographies of children and young people, not merely passing on special knowledge but also fundamental cultural and democratic values. This achievement merits the support, recognition and appreciation of society as a whole. The manifold demands placed on teachers have undergone radical changes in recent years, giving rise to new challenges. In a world of social upheaval and technological progress, the quality of schools and teaching can only be assured by means of a continuous improvement and creative process.
These changing professional requirements are reflected in the programme’s overall foci for action as well as at the level of the individual projects. For the development of universities and to ensure that our schools have a sufficient supply of well-trained teachers it is also extremely important that the "Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung" strengthens both the visibility and position of teacher education at universities. It also seeks to raise the attractiveness of the teaching profession and get more young people to decide for this career.
The funding scheme aims thus at the sustainable improvement of teacher training, especially focusing on its first qualification stage, that is the attainment of a teaching degree from a university. This includes improving the structure of ITP provision, that is cross-linking disciplines, didactics and educational sciences, and offering more special student support services as well as explicit training for dealing with inclusion in the classroom. The programme also serves to bridge the theory-practice gap, that is to integrate the more theoretically (teaching degree) and the more practically oriented stages (preparatory service and continuous professional development) of German teacher education.
Also, the programme has already responded to emerging issues which became apparent in the course of the first funding phase. In 2018, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has thus launched two additional funding strands, which focus on digitalisation in teacher training and teachers for vocational schools, respectively. As a result, the programme is now funding 92 projects at 72 German universities in phase two (2019-2023). For the total duration of the ten-year programme, a budget of EUR 500 million has been made available by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Besides, the 16 Länder, who are legally in charge of teacher education, have agreed to accept teaching degrees and academic credits throughout the country, thus offering more flexibility and mobility to students and prospective teachers. In addition to this it seems important to note that all measures within the programme are research-oriented and data-based. In this way, teacher training is becoming a highly attractive partner for collaborations across other university departments and faculties and indeed an institutional asset for the higher education institution as a whole.
Remarkably, since its start the programme has already had a significant impact on the higher education institutions involved. Above all this can be illustrated with an increased networking activity and collaboration efforts, now also reaching beyond the regional level. These efforts have been supported by the BMBF and the Project Management Agency of the German Aerospace Center (DLR Projektträger) by means of hosting numerous conferences and workshops and editing various publications.
It is also impressive to see how the projects have reflected upon and shaped the transfer of the project results to all phases of teacher training. This creates a sound basis for the lasting impact of the programme among the diverse teacher educating institutions involved. Above all, the "Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung" has revealed a previously unknown dynamic inherent to these vital change processes in German teacher training.