Donaldson to lead teacher review

27th November 2009 at 00:00
The review of teacher education announced by Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, last week will leave no stone unturned

In what amounts to a rare investigation of how teachers are trained, Ms Hyslop said the review, which will be led by Graham Donaldson, the retiring senior chief inspector of education, would be "open and inclusive and none of the conclusions are pre-judged".

She made clear it would not be confined to initial teacher education but cover induction and continuing professional development as well.

Mr Donaldson told The TESS the review "is heavily associated with Curriculum for Excellence and its requirement for a strong and dynamic teaching profession. Are we supporting the profession in order to rise to that challenge?"

He also said he would not be "locking himself away and dreaming up solutions", and would work with the universities and local authorities.

The review has been generally welcomed, but this is tinged with apprehension. Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "Teacher education must not be confined to mastery of Curriculum for Excellence. It will be important not to limit teachers' professionalism, or reduce teacher education to the mere acquisition of technical skills, but to enhance their ability to think critically and take decisions informed by sound research."

TESS columnist Walter Humes claimed "existing teacher education courses are heavily constrained by government guidelines and by the standards set out by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Responsibility for the state of affairs is, therefore, not that of teacher educators alone: attention also needs to be directed at policy-making and regulatory bodies."

Professor Humes, who is research professor in education at the University of the West of Scotland, suggested Mr Donaldson's appointment "smacks of insider dealing".

But Jim Conroy, dean of the education faculty at Glasgow University, said it was vital to have a well-educated teaching workforce "intellectually and practically".

Mr Donaldson will start in January and report by next autumn.

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