How well Scottish teachers are being prepared for the classroom will be the focus of a new inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee.
The inquiry, which gets underway today with the launch of an online survey aimed at those studying to become teachers, or who have recently qualified, will explore whether teachers leaving initial teacher education feel ready and confident to enter the profession.
Early findings from a major Scottish government-funded study aiming to uncover the essentials of high-quality initial teacher education, which were revealed exclusively by Tes Scotland in April, showed a total of 27.5 per cent of school mentors said they thought new teachers were not well enough prepared, compared with just 2 per cent of university staff and 5.4 per cent of new graduates.
Background: New teachers are unprepared, their mentors say
Teacher training: ‘Groundbreaking’ study aims to hone teacher education
Last year headteachers voiced concerns about the quality of probationer teachers entering the system in recent years, particularly in the primary sector. However, Glasgow City Council's executive director of education, Maureen McKenna, said on the Tes Scotland podcast that she thought the "probation" scheme for teachers was the greatest success of Scottish education in recent years.
Is teacher training up to scratch?
The work by the committee follows an in-depth report that it published in 2017 on the teacher workforce in Scotland. That report said there was no baseline standard for literacy and numeracy in teacher education. One student teacher told the committee she did not believe everyone who had graduated from the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education that year had “sufficient skills in numeracy to be able to teach it to 11-year-olds at a reasonable standard”.
Patchy and inconsistent student placements were also addressed in the 2017 report, with the committee calling for more work to ensure that students on placement were properly supported.
Now the committee will revisit these recommendations to find out what progress has been made.
Speaking as the inquiry launched, the committee convener and SNP MSP, Clare Adamson, said the committee wanted to ensure that the input that students teachers were receiving in universities and schools was giving them the foundation they would need as fully fledged teachers.
She said: “Teachers are at the heart of our education system and it is so important that our student teachers feel confident and supported as they enter the classroom.
“What this committee heard in 2017 was that there was work to be done at a national level, by the Scottish government and the GTCS [General Teaching Council for Scotland], education authorities and initial teacher education providers. For some, the training on the work placements or the probation experiences they received did not sufficiently prepare them for the challenges they would face on a daily basis.
“Now we want to find out whether changes were made. We want to hold the bodies to account to make sure that the learning experience, be it the theory or in practice in schools, being given to our future teachers meets the needs of Scotland’s education system.”