Yesterday the British Educational Research Association (BERA) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) jointly published a report about teacher education in the UK.
I admit to really liking the wonderful photo on the front cover of a young child thinking happily about what they’ve just learned – if only every classroom was like this!
Teacher education has been my particular hobby-horse for the last year or so because of work for a client in this area and the BERA-RSA report is an enlightening read.
Take home messages?
- There is a need for greater strategic co-ordination across teacher education (both initial training and subsequent professional development) in the UK at a local level, a national level and across all 4 nations.
- We should focus on securing a similar research-intensive teaching profession in the UK as already exists in highly-ranked PISA nations (if you follow the link you’ll see my reservations about this global educational measure – my last blog was about a different one I find more acceptable).
The big question is of course – how do we get there?
The report lists separate recommendations for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The one I preferred the most in terms of potential impact in England, by far the largest of the 4 nations for school-age population and numbers of teachers, goes: “As an initial step, Ofsted [the English state schools inspectorate] should undertake a thematic review to identify and disseminate best practice in the use of research and enquiry to promote school and college improvement and teachers’ professional development.”
I would have gone further than this and stipulated more specific action linked to school and college accountability and governance mechanisms in England – this is already happening with the recent publication of the ‘QuestionsforGovernors’ website by the Wellcome Trust – it has detailed Q&A on the professional development of science teachers with practical next steps to help governing bodies (including Heads) meet their obligations.
Used in conjunction with Myscience’s self-evaluation tool kit for school science departments, which already ties in with the latest Ofsted guidance, then perhaps we have a chance of actually making a difference at the chalkface through the provision of more high quality teacher education.