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Let Schools Decide: The Norwegian approach to school improvement

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Q & A Webinar | 27 January 2021
In 2017, the government of Norway introduced new measures to provide schools and municipalities with greater freedom to carry out systematic school improvement based on what the schools themselves believe needs to change. Hege Nilssen, Head of the Directorate for Education and Training in Norway, Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, and the OECD’s Implementing Education Policies team discuss how this innovative model was designed and implemented, and what other countries can learn from it.

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Let Schools Decide: The Norwegian approach to school improvement

  1. 1. Q&A Webinar 27 January 2021 LET SCHOOLS DECIDE: THE NORWEGIAN APPROACH TO SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT OECD Directorate for Education and Skills Implementing Education Policies Andreas Schleicher DIRECTOR
  2. 2. Policy assessments Strategic advice Implementation seminars Comparative analysis & tools Implementation seminars OECD Implementing Education Policies EDU project to develop knowledge, peer learning and country support INTERNATIONAL LEARNING TAILORED COUNTRY WORK Main issues:  How can education policy implementation processes be designed to ensure that policies bring about effective educational change in schools?  What types of implementation strategies can be pursued for school improvement policies?  What kind of information/data can help policy makers understand progress with implementation of their reforms? Austria 2019-20 Edu Monitoring Estonia 2019-20 Edu Monitoring Ireland 2019 Sr Cycle Review Mexico 2018 Education Strategy Norway 2019-20 Competence Development Scotland 2019-20 Curriculum Wales 2019-20 Curriculum Iceland 20120-21 Education Strategy
  3. 3. 2018 2019 2020 Start of the project May, 2018 Stakeholder Seminar #1 University Network Workshop County governor Workshop Thematic Discussion #1 RG Meeting #1 RG Meeting #2 RG Meeting #3 RG Meeting #4 RG Meeting #5 RG Meeting #6 Stakeholder Seminar #2 End of the project Winter 2020 RG Meeting #7 The competence development model for schools: Recommendations for the implementation strategy Thematic Discussion #2 Follow-up Assessment of the implementation strategy Strategic advice Policy assessment Stakeholders engagement seminars 3 OECD implementing education policies: Norway The team: OECD Education Directorate expertise Implementation Governance Pierre Gouedard Rien Rouw Beatriz Pont Claire Shewbridge Jacqueline Frazer A 2-year fruitful collaboration to support the implementation of the Competence Development Model for Schools
  4. 4. 4 Why invest in teacher professional development and collaboration? Increasing evidence on need for and impact of teacher collective capacity Educators’ resilience, based on TALIS 2018  Educators’ working environments are increasingly challenging (diversity, technology, health…)  Educators need to be prepared to develop broader and more complex set of skills in their students  Teachers across OECD report that professional development based on collaboration and collaborative approaches to teaching is among the most impactful for them (TALIS 2018)
  5. 5. 5 High proportion of teachers participate in professional development in Norway, TALIS 2018
  6. 6. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Content of some or all subject(s) taught General pedagogy Pedagogy of some or all subject(s) taught Classroom practice in some or all subject(s) taught Student behaviour and classroom management Monitoring students’ development and learning Teaching cross-curricular skills Teaching in a mixed ability setting Use of ICT for teaching Teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting Element was included in formal education or training Well or "very well" prepared for the element % Percentage of teachers for whom… / who felt…, TALIS 2018 Fig I.4.4 ..but teachers do not feel prepared in some areas, TALIS 2018
  7. 7. 7 Teachers find professional development effective when…, TALIS 2018 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 It was adapted to the teacher's personal development needs It appropriately focused on content needed to teach the teacher's subjects It provided opportunities for collaborative learning It involved most colleagues from the teacher's school % Norway OECD average-31 TALIS average-48
  8. 8. 8 To respond, Norway created a decentralized model for competence development for schools (2018) The model is an innovative way to promote collaborative professional development at the local level by funding collaboration between schools and universities. It aims to:  provide freedom of action and empower systematic school improvement from the local level for schools, teachers and local authorities  flip the system from government steering to leading from the local level through networks to deliver competence (municipalities, universities, county governors)
  9. 9. 9 We look at the model from an education change perspective • The policy is driven by a vision, has identified relevant policy tools, and are resourced for the policy to be sustainable. Smart policy design • Communication targets different groups of stakeholders, who are actively engaged throughout the whole process, and have clear roles transparent to all. Inclusive stakeholder engagement • The policy is adapted to the governance; there is coherence with other policies and there is capacity to deliver the policy in schools. Conducive context Coherent and actionable implementation strategy (how, who, when, measure)
  10. 10. 10 The model has moved from policy to action Decentralised scheme for school level professional development Issues: Model is still complicated in objectives and it seems challenging for it to be systematised across Norway. Professional development based on local needs is being delivered throughout Norway using financial incentives since 2019. Refined model’s objectives and coverage: Consolidated the policy approach: Clarified resources with new legal framework associated to funding
  11. 11. 11 Recommendations Continue refining the design of the model • Schools, municipalities, and universities can intensify their efforts in forging partnerships. • Further alignment of the co-operation forum outcomes with local needs by using existing networks to elaborate concrete professional development projects. Hone the objectives of the model • Consider developing collaboration-contingent grants that reward outstanding partnerships between universities and schools. • The Directorate and county governors: strengthen the evidence base and develop indicator systems to understand model updake and impact. Review the incentives and follow-up scheme • Following new grants regulation, review potential adverse effects of co-funding on participation. And on how funding agreements are made. Further clarify financial resources
  12. 12. 12 Stakeholder engagement has been clarified Issues: Many participants and expectations. Still unclear how to engage teachers and students in shaping PD needs .Communicating is challenging in decentralised governance. Model involves many different people in coordinating networks to define PD needs and shape offer. There is greater clarity in roles, responsibilities and engagement First steps taken toward building an accountability framework to follow up on progress Communication strategy developed by Directorate. Competence Development Directorate County Governors Universities School owners School leaders Teachers
  13. 13. 13 Recommendations Consider stakeholders engagement and roles • Municipalities are primarily responsible, but county governors and the Directorate can assure and actively monitor that teachers’ and students’ voices are heard and their needs are met. Engaging pivotal stakeholders with the model • A coherent framework of quality dimensions and indicators, collaboratively developed, could support monitoring. • Provide validated instruments to counties, municipalities and schools to foster the quality and efficiency of local measurement practices, and sharing of practices. Fostering transparency with quality dimensions and indicators • Strengthen the communication strategy with a narrative that embeds the model in a vision for education that speaks to a variety of stakeholders, particularly teachers and school leaders. • Establish a group of dedicated representative stakeholders to convey coherent messages on the model. Enhance effective communication
  14. 14. 14 Issues: For the model to become a more systemic approach to PD, review how it is integrated in other policies. Model has searched for greater coherence within its policy context. Better coordination by creating a county governors network to have national coherence and adapt to national needs. Teacher professional development: Within variety of provision the model has been aligned to existing individual initiatives. Policy alignment: new policies integrated into the model (inclusion, curriculum), which is becoming systemic. Compete nce Develop ment Model Quality assuranc e Teacher compete nce Curriculu m reform Inclusive educatio n ECEC VET The model has been considered from a whole-of-system perspective
  15. 15. 15 Recommendations Integrate the model from a whole-of-system approach • County governors network could help address the varying capacity among municipalities. Strengthen co-ordination between county governors and the Directorate • Assess whether the university network is the right platform for this • Consider coherence with individual professional development Think strategically about system-wide provision of professional development • Provide guidance on how the model articulates with existing or new policies, • Align the model with the Norwegian evaluation and assessment framework Set the model in a broader policy context
  16. 16. 16 Updating the implementation strategy with next steps From policy to action: communication and coherence What kind of strategy for decentralized context? How to share local practices across Norway? Issues to consider: Originally published in White Paper n.21 “Desire to learn - early intervention and quality in schools” (2017),  A loose implementation strategy: shaped through collective sense making in exchanges with the Directorate, the County Governors, collaboration fora, municipalities, universities and other key stakeholders.  Moved from policy to action at all levels: Municipalities have given their own shape and meaning to the strategy; Directorate has engaged across the country; a website now has all the required information on model.
  17. 17. 17 Recommendations Updating the implementation strategy: next steps • Update the strategy with the new components and progress made, detailing what will be done next, when, by whom and how. • Undertake systematic intelligence gathering: what are the indicators measuring progress and the available resources for engaging with the model? Organise stakeholders’ feedback Update the strategy • Communicate on progress, on good practices in different municipalities, and promote exchanges and peer learning. Consolidate the communication strategy • What will be the longer term incentives and actions that can be continued once the model is fully implemented across the country? Detail the next steps of the strategy
  18. 18. 18 Next steps: How to ensure the model accomplishes professional development based on local needs consistently across Norway? • Hone the objectives, review the incentives and follow up scheme and ensure an effective funding system to ensure provision across Norway Refine the design of the model • Develop a narrative and establish a group of stakeholders to share a coherent message. Define a framework of quality indicators that allow measure progress and engage teachers and students more proactively. Engage stakeholders with communication and transparency • Consolidate coordination approaches with County Governors, coherence of professional learning provision, and ensure policy alignment around the model Invest in a whole- of-system approach Review and update the strategy (how, who, when, measure)
  19. 19. TAKK! For more information: www.oecd.org/education http://www.oecd.org/education/implementing-policies/

Editor's Notes

  • A 2-year fruitful collaboration to support the implementation of the Competence Development Model for Schools in Norway

    The project has been a fruitful collaboration between OECD and Norway, with a specific OECD team and a Norwegian Reference Group with participation from main education stakeholders.

    To support the implementation of the model, OECD has undertaken a combination of :
    A policy assessment
    Continuous strategic advice
    Stakeholder engagement events
  • Why change?

    Educators’ working environments are increasingly challenging (diversity, technology, health…)

    Educators need to be prepared to develop broader and more complex set of skills in their students

    Teachers across OECD report that professional development based on collaboration and collaborative approaches to teaching is among the most impactful for them (TALIS 2018)

  • We have seen that teachers largely participate in PD in Norway.
    But somehow, teachers still fell not prepared enough in some domains as teaching cross-curricular skills or teaching in a mixed-ability setting.

    Based on their training experience, teachers tell us in TALIS some features of effective PD.
    In Norway, more than 2/3 of teachers value PD tailored to their needs and providing opportunities for collaborative learning.
    Almost half of the teachers also value when PD involve most colleague in the school.

    The new model for collaborative PD (introduced next slide) is an attempt to systematise these elements of effective PD: by introducing a bottom-up approach to PD from the school level, it ambitions to initiate school-based PD targeting the precise needs of the school.
  • The model is focused on improving the quality of education by promoting collaborative professional development: Simply described, it provides locally based professional development opportunities by funding collaboration between schools and universities.

    It aims to:
    provide freedom of action and empower systematic school improvement from the local level for schools, teachers and local authorities
    flip the system from government steering to leading from the local level through networks to deliver competence (municipalities, universities, county governors)
  • We at the OECD supported the shaping and implementation of the model based on our framework. It considers that the policy and process of education change need to be considered coherently for success.

    This implies:
    Smart policy design: the policy has a clear vision and indicators to measure progress towards it. It has clear policy actions to make it happen, and has funding for it to be sustainable.
    Education stakeholders are involved in shaping it from early stages, there are clear processes and roles and responsibilities.
    There is coherence around the policy in terms of the institutions, other policies around it and there is capacity to deliver by those in schools.
    All the policies and roles are defined in a concrete an actionable strategy: who needs to be doing what, how, when and how progress is measured.

    We analysed the Norwegian model through this lense to understand its progress it to reach its objectives: To improve competence at the school and local level. I present these next.


  • The model is an approach to have teacher professional development based on local needs. It is now being delivered throughout Norway using financial incentives since 2019.

    The technical way it works (figure): Cooperation Forums at regional level receive requests by municipalities on specific professional development funding needs. In the Forums, with universities, they decide which courses or professional development to organise and provide the funding. County Governors manage the funding requests.

    In moving from the initial policy document to action, Norway sharpened the policy:
    Refined model’s objectives and coverage: Initial blurry vision was clarified, and broadened its scope to cover special needs and ECEC.
    Consolidated the policy approach: municipalities get financial incentives for school based PD by universities. Follow up scheme for municipalities with low performance indicators. County Governors to coordinate and follow up process.
    Clarified resources: new legal framework associated with funding of the model. 30% co-financing by municipalities. Allocation of funds between municipalities and universities.

    But for the model to work systematically across the country, there are issues to consider: it is complicated, lack of clarity in decision making structures and processes, weak understanding of what quality outcomes are and how to measure its impact.

  • For the model to work systematically across the country, the design of the model can be continually reviewed:

    Hone the objectives of the model
    Schools, municipalities, and universities need to intensify their efforts in forging partnerships.
    To align co-operation forum outcomes with local needs, schools and universities should build on existing networks to elaborate collectively concrete professional development projects to submit at the forum.
    Review the incentives and follow-up scheme
    The Directorate can consider developing collaboration-contingent grants that would reward outstanding partnerships to align the interests of universities and schools.
    The Directorate and county governors need to engage in a dialogue to strengthen the evidence base system-wide and address some of the mechanical and arbitrary cut-off issues that are perennial challenges for indicator systems.
    Further clarify financial resources
    In light of the new grants regulation, the Directorate can follow-up with county governors to ensure there is no adverse effect of co-funding on participation, and municipalities and universities manage to reach an agreement on the funding distribution in co-operation forums.
  • The model is shaped by the actions of different groups who are involved in defining professional learning needs, negotiating PD and funding universities to deliver it aligned to school needs.

    In moving from the initial policy document to action, the way people were involved with the model has become more clear:

    Roles, responsibilities and engagement: More clarity in roles as model evolves. Awareness of need to engage teachers and students at the local level to ensure needs are met.
    First steps toward building an accountability framework: brainstorms on quality dimensions and indicators focused on hard-to-measure dimensions (e.g. mindsets); many sources already available.
    Communication: shared understanding; communication strategy currently developed by Directorate.

    But for the model to work there are issues to consider:

    How can teachers and students be more involved in shaping PD demand?
    What does quality mean in the model? What data to measure it?
    Consistency in communication on model when it is decentralized is challenging.


  • For the model to succeed, how many different people are involved needs to be clear, as well as impact on actual teacher professional development and ultimately on student learning.

    Engaging pivotal stakeholders with the model
    Municipalities are primarily responsible, but there is also a role for county governors and the Directorate to assure and actively monitor that teachers’ and students’ voices are heard and their needs are met.
    Fostering transparency with quality dimensions and indicators
    A coherent framework of quality dimensions and indicators, collaboratively developed, could support monitoring and accountability at all levels: school, municipality, county and country.
    Measuring progress and impact starts at the local level. Provide validated instruments to counties, municipalities and schools will foster the quality and efficiency of local measurement practices, as well as facilitate comparisons and mutual learning between municipalities and counties.
    Enhancing effective communication
    Strengthen the communication strategy with a narrative that embeds the model in a vision for education that speaks to a variety of stakeholders, particularly teachers and school leaders.
    Peer-to-peer communication is an important source of credibility and trust. Establish a group of dedicated representative stakeholders to convey coherent messages on the model to support its further development.
  • While the model was initially focused on local level needs, it was not integrated into other policies.

    In moving from the initial policy document to action, the model has searched for greater coherence within its policy context:

    Better coordination by creating a county governors network to have national coherence and adapt to national needs.

    Teacher professional development: Within variety of provision the model has been aligned to existing individual initiatives.

    Policy alignment: new policies integrated into the model (inclusion, curriculum), which is becoming systemic.

    But for the model to become a more systemic approach to PD there are issues to consider:

    Is it well aligned to the evaluation and assessment framework? How much is it a priority among teachers PD activities? Is there capacity and leadership to effectively recognise needs and ensure provision?
  • Integrate the model from a whole-of-system approach

    Strengthen co-ordination between county governors and the Directorate
    With the model in its operational phase, the county governors network could help address varying capacity among municipalities by, for instance, finding synergies between existing municipal networks used in the model and other networks.
    Thinking strategically about system-wide provision of professional development
    There is a need to focus on the system-wide provision of professional development. The Directorate should assess whether the university network is the right platform and how to include individual continuous professional development programmes.
    Setting the model in a broader policy context
    Guidance is required on how the model articulates with existing or new policies, such as and the curriculum reform.
    Align the model with the Norwegian evaluation and assessment framework, which is still pending.
  • The model was originally communicated in a White Paper n.21 “Desire to learn - early intervention and quality in schools” (2017), without an implementation strategy:

    It was shaped by stakeholders involved through collective sense making in exchanges with the Directorate, the County Governors, collaboration fora, municipalities, universities and other key education stakeholders.

    It has moved from policy to action at local level: Municipalities have given their own shape and meaning to the strategy; information on actions and practices have taken place through discussions, communication and engagement of the Directorate across the country; a website is now ready.

    But there are issues to consider for the consolidation and widening of the strategy:
    What kind of strategy for decentralized context?
    How to share local practices across Norway?
  • While there is now a more coherent picture of the model and how to engage, it will be important to consider next steps for the implementation of the model:

    Update the strategy
    Update the strategy with the new components and progress made, detailing what will be done next, when, by whom and how.
    Undertake systematic intelligence gathering: what are the indicators measuring progress and the available resources for engaging with the model? Organise stakeholders’ feedback
    Consolidate the communication strategy
    Communicate on progress, on good practices in different municipalities, and promote exchanges and peer learning.
    Detail the next steps of the strategy
    What will be the longer term incentives and actions that can be continued once the model is fully implemented across the country?
  • To bring it all together, we have seen much progress with this innovative and complex policy to support school improvement across the country in a decentralised context. We have collaborated with Norway behind the scenes to move it from a policy document (White Paper n. 21) into an actual policy on the ground.

    We published a report with the recommendations we presented today. We thank all of those involved in the work who were so engaged from Norway.

    Now we will hear from Hegge Nilsen on how they have actually progressed with it and what they plan for the future to consolidate this approach to local competence development and school improvement.


    Refine the design of the model
    Hone the objectives, review the incentives and follow up scheme and ensure an effective funding system to ensure provision across Norway
    Engage stakeholders with communication and transparency
    Develop a narrative and establish a group of stakeholders to share a coherent message. Define a framework of quality indicators that allow measure progress and engage teachers and students more proactively.
    Invest in a whole-of-system approach
    Consolidate coordination approaches with County Governors, coherence of professional learning provision, and ensure policy alignment around the model
  • ×