The Professional Start-of-Term Conference was held on the 26th, 27th and 28th August 2014, in three big Hungarian cities (Budapest, Miskolc and Pécs), with the same program. The event was a joint organisation of the HIERD, the Ministry of Human Capacities, the Educational Authority, the Educatio Kht. and the National Teachers Chamber.
Nearly 1500 teachers participated on the 26th August 2014 at the Professional Start-of-Term Conference in Budapest, which was subsequently held at Miskolc and Pécs as well the following two days.
In his welcome speech, Mr. Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities emphasised: every condition is given for a successful new school year of 2014/15. He expressed his appreciation for teachers for cooperating in the renewal of public education, the goal of which is to bestow marketable knowledge together with traditions and values, and also to give everyone a qualification adequate for their competences. The long term objective of the new system is a higher quality education.
Minister of State for Public Education, Mrs. Judit Czunyiné dr. Bertalan stated that schools must provide identity as well as knowledge. She asked teachers to share their experiences in order to support the development of textbooks. Mrs. Czunyiné dr. Bertalan referred to the professional advisory and the inspectorial systems both as to reforms that would facilitate the renewal of public education. In relation to the life career model for teachers she touched upon the fact that for professional development, teachers receive a financial reward. The Minister of State for Public Education concluded her speech by emphasising that the most important objective of current developments in public education is to better meet the needs of students.
Deputy Secretary of State for the Reform of the Institutional System of Public Education, Mrs. Gáborné Pölöskei talked about the development of infrastructure together with the increase in the number of early childhood educators, necessitated by the introduction of the mandatory preschool/kindergarten attendance for children who are 3 years old or older. She pointed out as her objectives to reduce early school leaving and to promote lifelong learning. At the end of her talk, she emphasised the necessity of the unity of infrastructure, and developments concerning processes and content alike.
Deputy Secretary of State for Public Education, Mr. Imre Sipos talked about legislative changes, and pointed to decree 35/2014 (IV.30.) of the Ministry, as the one listing the most important dates and tasks of the school year, as well as the modification of some laws related to education. His talk included a presentation about tests and surveys of the school year.
Director of the Educational Authority, Mr. Péter Pósfai, gave a detailed and factual presentation about the qualification of teachers. Mr. Pósfai stated that the professional inspection of teachers begins in January 2015.
Dr. József Kaposi, Director General of the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development gave a talk entitled Novelties in the support of the professional work of teachers. He informed the audience about the development model of the new generation of textbooks, in which teachers get the opportunity to give feedback in order to support the development process. He also mentioned the National Education Portal, the goal of which would be to grant access for all digital educational support materials which are developed already, but also to those which will be developed in the future, thus supporting the work of teachers and students alike. He talked about the development of required standards and of education programs, the professional advisory and disciplinary advisory systems, the professional support of teacher education and about research ongoing in the HIERD.
Mr. Péter Horváth, President of the National Teachers Chamber (NTC) drafted the goals and tasks of the organisation. He shared information with participants about the foundation and the launching of the NTC. Mr. Horváth asked teachers to trust the organisation by sharing their challenges and insights about the education system, as this is a key for the NTC to be able to successfully support their work.
The plenary session was followed in the afternoon by four parallel thematic sections. In the section of the HIERD, Mr. László Kojanitz talked about the development of the new generation of textbooks, and the new paradigm in which teachers are the catalysts of change. He stressed that the HIERD awaits the feedback of teachers related to recently developed textbooks. The talk of Mr. Zoltán Kerber centred on the testing of the pilot textbook for vocational schools, including the methodology used. Some teachers were a bit on the sceptical side at the beginning, however, after a pilot year of teaching from this textbook, when asked whether they would use it again, the majority replied they would willingly use it again next year, once their feedback is included in the new edition. Ms. Edit Sinka’s lecture centred on a research about the support needs of teachers and about their view of themselves as teachers. Dr. Mária Szabó talked about the experiences of professional advisors: results show that teachers trust the advisors, who can provide real support for them. Márta Dr. Szvathné Dr. Szalay presented about professional pedagogical support, while Dr. Éva Bodnár gave a talk about the effectiveness of teacher education in a non-Bologna system, and the development of teacher training. The section concluded with a questions and answers session.
In the section of the Educational Authority, participants could learn about the inspectorial system, received advice regarding preparation for the qualifications, and were given information about the new uploading surface of the e-portfolio.
In the section of Educatio, developments of the organisation (related to public education) were discussed along the renewal of pedagogical services.
As to the National Teachers Chamber, their section covered the institutional ethos, the prestige of the teaching profession, and the divisions of the Chamber.
On the next day, the conference was held at the University of Miskolc, and on the 28th August the city of Pécs hosted the event.