A satisfying mixture

18th November 2005 at 00:00
We agree with Marj Adams's comment (TESS, October 28) that student teachers would appreciate the best education possible in both schools and colleges to learn to become effective teachers. However, we feel there are some points that she raised which we would like to challenge.

With regard to placements in schools, it is our understanding that there has been a massive demand for placements at schools this year, due to the vast increase in students on the PGDE courses in all subject areas.

In addition, a new system for allocation of places has been implemented nationwide which has caused a few teething troubles that will hopefully be resolved in future years. As far as we are aware, all students from Jordanhill were placed, although some students may have been required to travel farther away from home than they would have anticipated. Obviously, no guarantees can be given to students about where their placements may be.

In relation to the quality of teacher training within Jordanhill, not all lecturers can be straight out of school classrooms. However, in the home economics department we have the best mix. We have one lecturer who has had many years of experience in schools, plus several years of experience leading PGDE students. The other lecturer only gave up her head of department role in schools earlier this year and therefore has very recent experience.

It is ludicrous that any student should have felt "mortified" about being shown how to thread a sewing machine, as Ms Adams claimed. Since no Scottish higher education institution currently offers a degree in home economics, students come from a variety of backgrounds and it is essential that our lecturers ensure we are equipped with all the necessary skills.

The practical sessions Ms Adams described were introduced following student demand and the instruction on threading the sewing machine was a very small part of a practical session. In Ms Adams's own words, it would not be advisable for teacher training courses to be "all theory and no practice".

We strongly feel that our lecturers have worked hard and have endeavoured to arm us with the necessarily skills and abilities to let us go into our very well organised placements with confidence. As there are only two home economics lecturers at Jordanhill, Ms Adams's comments were little short of a personal attack on two very hard-working, keen and enthusiastic professionals in a subject area that has doubled its intake this year.

Furthermore, we feel it is neither moral nor ethical to jeopardise careers by quoting one person's skewed views. We would question how Ms Adams would feel should one of her pupils go public regarding the quality of her lessons.

As a psychologist, Ms Adams should be aware of sample sizes and validity.

It is therefore surprising that she only seems to have quoted the views of one mature student. How much value and credence does this place on her observations and statements?

With regard to students expressing opinions or concerns about the course content or quality of teaching, we have been encouraged on several occasions by teaching staff to discuss such issues with them, or alternatively to use the formal route of the Student Staff Representative Committee. This does not appear to have been the case in this instance by the student involved.

Carole McKellar and nine others

Tuesday cohort PGDE(S)

Home economics (Jordanhill)

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