Fistful of pointers for a tighterhand on training;Briefing;Document of the week

29th May 1998 at 01:00
Five national curricula have been launched to tighten up the regulation of teacher training. Nicolas Barnard reports

The national curriculum in schools may be entering a new state of flux with the launch of its millennial review. But no such uncertainties face students contemplating life as a teacher.

A week after the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority embarked officially on its review, the Teacher Training Agency presented the fruits of its own review - five national curricula for teacher-training courses.

The curricula - for secondary English, maths and science, primary science and the use of information and communications technology by all teachers - are five more pieces of a jigsaw that is making teaching and teacher education increasingly tightly-regulated.

They follow the primary curricula in English and maths which come into force for teacher-training courses from September.

Three curricula join a series of national standards which set out in detail for the first time the expectations schools should have of newly-qualified teachers, special needs co-ordinators, subject leaders and headteachers.

And they underpin the "career entry profiles" which all newly- qualified teachers will take into their first jobs, and which set out standards for qualified teacher status, training received, the students' strengths and weaknesses and targets for further professional development in the now-statutory induction year.

TTA chief executive Anthea Millett presented the curricula at the launch last week of the agency's new three-year corporate plan. She described them as "challenging", but said: "Our pupils need and deserve nothing less."

She added: "There can no longer be any doubt about the expectations on our trainees or on those responsible for training them."

Apart from information and communications technology, each new curriculum focuses both on teaching and assessment methods and on the core of knowledge and understanding trainees must have to deliver that subject.

Each has three elements: the pedagogical knowledge and understanding trainees need to secure pupils' progress; effective teaching and assessment methods; and trainees' own knowledge and understanding of the subject.

The ICT curriculum deals with the use of technology in teaching all subjects - not the teaching of ICT as a subject. It covers the full range of technology now available, including computers, the Internet, CD-Rom and other software, television and radio, video and cameras.

Good news for training providers is that the TTA says that now the curricula are drawn up it has more time and resources to help colleges and universities develop their courses.

Reaction from teacher-training organisations ranges from the approving to the indignant. One senior professor of education said departments had only themselves to blame for such tight prescription - if they had delivered in the past it would never have happened.

But Mary Russell, chair of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said others were concerned at the erosion of professional autonomy, academic freedom and the precedent of Government regulation in higher education. "Some are anxious that this will make things very rigid and might stifle innovation. Whatever you think, there has to be an opportunity for change and development," she said.

"There is also the knock-on effect. People feel generally that not just with the teacher-training curriculum but also with the school curriculum there is a danger of everything being narrowed down and other important areas becoming totally marginalised."

Some departments piloting the training curriculum for primary English and maths this year have found the major changes to their courses hard going. Others, already running courses close to the curriculum, found it easier.


* Copies of all Initial Teacher Training National Curricula are available from the Department for Education and Employment Publications, tel. 0845 602 2260.




Trainees should be taught that pupils need to understand science because it:

* helps them make sense of natural phenomena and technology; * develops investigative skills; * is intellectually stimulating; * is an important part of contemporary culture.

Pupils' progress depends on teaching which: * establishes a framework of basic knowledge; * requires them to look for scientific explanations; * develops pupils' scientific skills.

Trainees should understand that: * pupils often bring their own, incorrect, ideas to lessons; * some scientific ideas are counter-intuitive; * some ideas are confusingly similar (eg melting and dissolving); * all analogies have limits.

Effective teaching andevaluation Trainees must be taught: * how to recognise common errors; * how to use different sorts of questioning; * how to provide effective exposition; * how to use practical activities; * how to make links between science and other areas of the primary curriculum; * how to teach pupils to communicate their understanding; * how to assess and evaluate.

Knowledge and understanding Trainees must demonstrate that they understand: * how to plan, conduct and evaluate investigations; * how to record, analyse and interpret evidence; * health and safety requirements; * life processes including * the functioning of organisms l continuity and change l ecosystems l materials and their structure; * physical processes including: * electricity and magnetism l energy l forces and motion * light l sound l the earth and beyond.



Trainees must be taught:

* some of the reasons why it is important for pupils to learn science; * progression expected in pupils' scientific understanding; * the way pupils understand science and their misconceptions, in order to secure their progression in knowledge and understanding; and the way scientific language and activities can help or hinder that progression; * the importance of engaging pupils' interest in science.

Effective teaching andassessment

Trainees must be taught how to:

* select and use the right teaching strategies to take pupils forward, including how to: skilfully frame open and closed questions, provide effective exposition, use experimental and practical work, develop pupils' literacy and numeracy and teach them to communicate their findings, and handle sensitive and controversial issues such as genetics; * manage lessons, including how to: plan well-structured lessons, teach whole classes, groups and individuals, use resources and ICT, and manage practical work; * assess and evaluate teaching and learning, including how to use formative, diagnostic and summative methods of assessing progress and recognise the standards of attainment they should expect.

Knowledge and understanding

* Training providers should audit trainees' knowledge and understanding and fill in the gaps during the course.

* To teach GCSE, students must know and understand to degree level certain specified aspects of:

* biochemistry * cellular processes * biological control systems * genetics and evolution * taxonomy * ecological principles * structure and function * basic statistical theory and techniques.


Trainees should understand how to use ICT effectively

They should understand:

* the speed and automatic functions of ICT; * the capacity and range of ICT; * the interactive capacity of ICT.



Trainees must be taught:

* the fundamentals for ensuring pupils' progression in understanding, the route of that progression and how to analyse progress; * pupils' progress depends on teaching: correct use of mathematical language, confident use of notation, how mental and visual images aid thinking and understanding, accuracy and rigour and how to apply reasoning and proof.

* how pupils build understanding and make connections, and their misconceptions; * how to recognise factors which may contribute to poor numeracy and the importance of structured learning.

Effective teaching andassessment

Trainees must be taught how to:

* teach number; * build on pupils' understanding of number to teach algebra; * develop effective strategies for improving numeracy in those pupils falling behind; * plan their teaching; * teach whole classes, groups and individuals effectively, using clear exposition, instructions, explanations, illustrations and demonstrations and oral work; * teach children to think mathematically when solving problems; * assess and evaluate teaching and learning, including how to use formative, diagnostic and summative methods of assessing progress and recognise the standards of attainment they should expect.

Knowledge and understanding

Training providers should audit trainees' knowledge and understanding against the content of the curricula they will be teaching in school, whether key stage 2, 3 or 4.



Trainees must know how pupils develop and progress in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and learn how to:

* develop pupils as critical readers and extend the range of what they read; * develop their competence in writing and their abilities in speaking and listening; * develop pupils' understanding of the variety of language; * recognise they are often competent in other languages; * structure learning for pupils who are falling behind; * provide a good role model for pupils' literacy.

Effective teaching and assessment

Trainees must be taught how to:

* encourage individuals to read; * teach literary and non-literary texts to whole classes and groups * teach poetry, Shakespeare's plays, and non-fiction; * introduce pupils to the media; * assess pupils' reading, writing, speaking and listening; * teach writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar; * introduce pupils to drama; * develop strategies to bring on pupils falling behind; * use ICT to support lessons; * monitor and assess pupils' progress and attainment.

Knowledge and understanding

Training providers should audit trainees' knowledge and understanding and fill in the gaps during the course.

To teach English effectively, students must know and understand:

* technical terms; * the nature and role of standard English; * the principles of spoken and written language as a system; * language as a social, cultural and historical phenomenon; * texts and different critical approaches to them.

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