Academic standards for cross-sector and lateral entry into the teaching profession are non-negotiable – DPhV and HRK hold new KMK President accountable

20. January 2023

The German Philological Association (DPhV) and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) are explicitly warning against lowering the qualifications of cross-sector and lateral entrants to the teaching profession in schools and thus lowering the future level of basic academic teacher education because of the acute shortage of teachers in Germany. The two associations are appealing to Berlin’s Senator for Education Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD), who will take over the presidency of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) today, to clearly reject any considerations to the contrary.

“We do not need downward competition in the quality of our schools. We expect Senator Busse, as new KMK President, to commit to safeguarding the existing qualification standards for the teaching profession across the Länder,” explains the federal chair of the DPhV, Professor Susanne Lin-Klitzing. In several Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, draft legislation is currently being prepared that would only require a bachelor’s degree as the final academic qualification for school teachers for cross-sector and lateral entrants in the context of the corresponding salary brackets – instead of the current master’s degree or state examination. “If you are a teacher conducting final secondary-school-leaving examinations (Abitur), you need a master’s degree or the state examination as an academic requirement,” says Lin-Klitzing. “Reducing the quality requirements for cross-sector and lateral entrants into teaching is detrimental to pupils. We expect the KMK not to allow this lowering of high-quality academic standards for teacher education.”

The German Philological Association and the German Rectors’ Conference are calling on the KMK not to abandon the minimum requirements determined by the KMK itself and not to allow any devaluation of the master’s degree and the two-subject study programme for the teaching profession.

“Each phase of teacher education has its specific function,” says HRK President Professor Peter-André Alt. “Universities provide the scholarly based foundation of professional academic competences and the first opportunity to apply those skills in a reflective way, as well as scientifically based continuing and in-service training. At a time when interdisciplinarity and dealing with different subject cultures have become part of everyday life in academia, the regression from a two-subject to a one-subject academic teacher education programme is a step backwards.” He went on to note that a quality-assured, academic teacher education with high university standards for all teachers is indispensable for the challenges of the educational mission of schools – regardless of the entry route into the profession. The HRK previously commented on the quality parameters for cross-sector and lateral entry into teaching in 2020.

The HRK and the DPhV agree that cross-sector and lateral entrants to teaching need a demanding, academic competence-oriented and pedagogical additional qualification at teacher training institutions. Subject-specific studies and didactics for two combinable teaching subjects must be interlinked at a consecutive master’s level and be followed by an appropriate school-based training phase for the development of expertise. In the case of cross-sector and lateral entrants this can be done on a modular basis and can take place in parallel to classroom teaching. In the opinion of the two associations, it is imperative that the KMK assumes its responsibility to safeguard a high standard of education and educational equity.