Gove plans overhaul of initial teacher training

26th November 2010 at 00:00
White paper will pave the way for biggest upheaval in decades

As scotland awaits the outcome of the Donaldson review of teacher education in January, the Westminster Government has unveiled the biggest overhaul of teacher training in a generation.

Education Secretary Michael Gove aims to reform the BEd and the PGCE as he looks to find greater efficiencies in how people enter the profession and move training away from universities.

Mr Gove has already aired plans to move teacher training into schools, with money being shifted away from education departments and placed into the hands of heads.

In an interview with TES England in advance of the publication of his white paper on Wednesday, he outlined his view that training should focus on being a "craft" learnt at the chalkface, rather than in a lecture theatre. At present, more than 33,000 people train as teachers at university in England, whereas only 5,000 do so in schools.

He said further details of the restructuring - which is deeply concerning to university education departments - will be unveiled when the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills publishes its own white paper in response to Lord Browne's review of higher education at the end of the year.

But Mr Gove says he wants to "improve" initial teacher education, with plans to "diversify" the routes people can take into the profession. It is understood Mr Gove is concerned that around a third of teacher trainees are not in any kind of teaching post six months after leaving their training.

As part of the shake-up, the National College of School Leadership's role will be enhanced, there will be a national network of "teaching schools" modelled on teaching hospitals, and graduates must have at least a 2:2 degree to attract funding.

Speaking to The TES, Mr Gove said the best teachers are those who are academic but can also master the craft of pedagogy. "I call it a craft, because it is something you learn in a work-based environment," he said. "That doesn't mean that it doesn't require real intellectual accomplishment. Everyone knows there are bright people who can't teach for toffee, and other people who may not have been the most gifted at university but who have the emotional intelligence and the spark to really engage a classroom."

Mr Gove said he was struck on his recent visit to Far East countries by their emphasis on the importance of teacher quality as the key to driving up standards. In Singapore, he enthused, "they are developing technology to allow great lessons to be filmed and go online and become part of the process of professional development."

Mr Gove acknowledges that improving the quality of the teachers already in the system is as important as overhauling teacher education. He intends to make bursaries available to teachers who want to study a masters degree or postgraduate qualification in their chosen field to "deepen their subject knowledge".


Meanwhile, US education experts have called for an overhaul of teacher-preparation programmes, including a greater emphasis on classroom training as well as tougher admission and graduation standards for those hoping to teach in elementary and secondary classrooms.

The panel's sweeping recommendations, released last week, urge teacher-training programmes to operate more like medical schools, which rely heavily on clinical experience.

Teacher candidates should spend more time in classrooms learning to teach before they earn a licence to teach.

"We need large, bold, systemic changes," said James Cibulka, president of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, the group that convened the expert panel.

"As a nation, we are expecting all of our students to perform at high levels, so it follows that we need to expect more of our teachers as they enter the classroom."

Studies have shown that, historically, students who enter teacher-education programmes generally have lower grade-point averages or lower scores on college-entrance examinations than students who enter other professions.

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