The first years in the profession are crucial to teacher retention and development, and strong support systems must be in place to assist new teachers with challenges early in their careers. Indeed, a growing body of research demonstrates the positive impact of induction programmes on teachers’ job satisfaction, well-being and commitment to the school, in addition to student achievement (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009; Ingersoll and Strong, 2011; Wechsler et al., 2010).
However, in Japan, participation in formal induction is twice as high as the OECD average. 83% of teachers in lower secondary education in Japan reported having participated in an induction programme, compared to the OECD average of 49%. In addition, one third of teachers in lower secondary education in Japan reported having an assigned mentor to support them, compared to the OECD average of 13%. (OECD, 2014).
Since 1988, the Law for Special Regulations Concerning Educational Public Service Personnel (EPSP) has mandated Boards of Education (BOEs) in Japan to provide new teachers with induction training in the first year of their appointment (Government of Japan, 1949). Participation in induction has been rising steadily (Table 1). New teachers are placed under a conditional employment status during their first year, and BOEs are also mandated to evaluate new teachers before removing their conditional status. Only 1-2% of teachers fail to pass their induction year. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) provides guidelines to support Boards of Education in the 47 prefectures to develop induction programmes (MEXT, 2014). BOEs can decide on the delivery and contents of induction programmes. They also prepare detailed induction guidebook for schools (MEXT, 2016).
Note: The total number of teachers in induction is equal to the number of individuals with permanent contracts hired in teaching positions in public schools in primary and lower secondary education. However, teachers who have previous experience in teaching in national, municipal or private schools for more than one consecutive year are exempt from induction training.
Source: MEXT as cited in MEXT (2016), OECD ITP Study, Japan Country Background Report, MEXT, Tokyo.
The law also requires the assignment of a mentor for every new teacher. The MEXT Guidelines therefore describe the tasks and responsibilities of:
Mentors and subject specialist teachers are selected on the basis of seniority and subject specialisation.
According to the MEXT Guidelines, induction programmes consist of 300 hours of training in total, including 120 hours of in-school training, and at least 25 days of off-site training (Table 2):
|1||Homeroom||Off-site training||Consultation, with guidance teacher||Demonstration, with subject teacher||Homeroom||Homeroom|
|2||Demonstration with guidance teacher||Meeting, with subject teacher||Demonstration with guidance teacher||Homeroom|
|3||Home room, with mentor teacher||Observation with guidance teacher||Observation, with subject teacher||Homeroom||Homeroom|
|4||Homeroom||Homeroom||Observation with guidance teacher|
|5||Moral education||Consultation, with guidance teacher||Consultation, with subject teacher||Homeroom|
|6||Consultation, with guidance teacher||Club||Lesson planning and preparation|
However, the guidelines are implemented differently across prefectures, for example, in many prefectures, BOEs have extended the duration of teacher induction trainings from beyond one year (Box 1).
In 2011, Chiba Prefecture increased the duration of induction training for new teachers from the mandated one-year induction to three years. The rationale is to reduce teacher workload, which is especially heavy for new teachers, and to make the context of training more practical.
In Miyagi Prefecture, a three-year induction programme was developed to minimise the pressure and administrative burden of 1-year training programmes and ensure the depth of learning. Teachers receive 15 days of off-site training in their first year, 7 days in their second year, and then 3 days in their third year of teaching. Furthermore, new teachers are given an opportunity to work with the teachers undergoing their legally mandated tenth-year professional training programme. New teachers play a role of student in a classroom where the experienced teachers deliver their mock lesson as a part of their training programme.
Hokkaido Prefecture has a 5-year induction programme:
The OECD Review Team in its visit to Japan from 5-9 September 2016 concluded that induction is a strength in that it:
The OECD Review Team also noted that:
Darling-Hammond, L. et al. (2009), Professional Learning in the Learning Profession A Status Report on Teacher Development in the US and Abroad, National Staff Development Council and School Redesign Network, Stanford. 
Government of Japan (1949), Law for Special Regulations Concerning Educational Public Service Personnel (EPSP). 
Ingersoll, R. and M. Strong (2011), “The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A Critical Review of the Research”, Review of Educational Research, Vol. 81/2, pp. 201-233. 
Nohara, D. (1997), “The training year: teacher induction in Japan”, in Moskowitz, J. and M. Stephens (eds.), From Students of Teaching to Teachers of Students: Teacher Induction around the Pacific Rim, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat, Singapore. 
Wechsler, M. et al. (2010), “Examining the effects of new teacher induction”, Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Vol. 111, pp. 387–416. 
This case study describes a “Promising practice” drawn from an OECD review of Initial Teacher Preparation in Japan from 5-9 September 2016.
The OECD Review Team – Hannah von Ahlefeld (OECD), Francesca Caena (University of Venice), Kjetil Helgeland (OECD) and Danielle Toon (Learning First) – identified a number of “Promising practices” in each country. These practices may not be widespread or representative, but seen in the context of other challenges, they represent a strength or opportunity to improve the country’s initial teacher preparation system – and for other countries to learn from them.
This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.
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