In cantonal provisions and in the professional mandate governing the assignment of working hours to specific areas of duty, the cantons lay down an obligation for teachers to complete continuing professional development (CPD), and often also an entitlement to CPD. The prescribed duration varies depending on the canton; in some cases, CPD is laid down in terms of a percentage of annual working time (e.g. 5%). Some CPD events may be declared compulsory. As a rule, CPD must take place outside lesson time. CPD is funded mainly by the cantons, but also by the communes. CPD can also be carried out within the school.
The recommendations (Empfehlungen) of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) on teacher CPD define CPD as a part of the teachers’ professional mandate assigning working hours to specific areas of duty. CPD is also intended to facilitate conscious structuring of the teaching career. For teachers of upper secondary level vocational schools, the Ordinance on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETO) requires CPD as a part of quality development, which each education provider has to ensure.
Alongside the universities of teacher education other higher education institutions, cantonal CPD establishments and private institutions offer CPD courses for teachers:
- The universities of teacher education and the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) offer a broad range of CPD programmes, ranging from courses lasting only a few hours to part-time courses of study which last several semesters. Depending on the course the CPD may end with a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS), a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) or a course certificate. The courses offered include, for instance, education and upbringing of four to eight-year-old children (CAS), bilingual teaching (CAS), integrative support (CAS), intercultural language teaching (CAS) and sex education (CAS, DAS, MAS). Supplementary training and CPD for the teaching profession can be recognised throughout Switzerland by the EDK. The supplementary training courses qualify teachers for demanding functions in the school (e.g. management tasks or school development activities). To date the EDK has adopted profiles for the supplementary training of educators in the field of media teaching/ICT, for specialist teachers in careers guidance and for supplementary education in school management. The teachers of upper secondary level vocational schools and for colleges of higher education benefit from the SVIVET courses.
- For the CPD of teachers at baccalaureate schools and of teachers for vocational baccalaureate subjects the universities of teacher education are the major CPD institutions.
Incentives, supporting measures and funding for participation in continuing professional development (CPD) activities
The vast majority of the cantons provide for the continuing professional development of teaching staff. Moreover, continuing professional development can open up new career prospects, e.g. teaching a new subject or at another school level, or taking on new tasks (school administration, supporting gifted and talented pupils, ICT, career services, etc.).
Some continuing professional development courses also help teachers to better master current challenges in the classroom (dealing with heterogeneity, teamwork, etc.) or to evaluate and use their own options and resources more effectively (burnout prevention, conflict management, career design, etc.).
The attendance of CPD courses may impact on salary, if CPD leads to new assignments or a new function.