Examples of countries which managed to attract the best students to the profession
South Korea (a top performer in international tests) draws its primary education teachers from the top 5% of school leavers. As a comparison, average school systems draw their teachers from the bottom 30% of school leavers.
Korea’s success in attracting top students to primary teaching lies in its control of the entrance to training programmes for primary teachers – places to enter the four-year undergraduate degree required to become a primary teacher are very limited to ensure that supply meets demand. As a result, primary teaching is very attractive. In contrast, teacher training to become a secondary teacher is not regulated in the same way, and Korea produces around five times as many graduates each year as is required by the secondary school system, and the attractiveness of secondary teaching has declined.
Similarly, Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong also all control entry to teacher training so that supply closely matches demand. Finland draws its teachers from the top 10% of school leavers, and Hong-Kong and Singapore from the top 30%.
See: Mc Kinsey, 2007