GTC rubbishes teacher training fix

16th March 2001 at 00:00
The General Teaching Council for Scotland is "profoundly disappointed" with the Scottish Executive's suggested approach to the review of initial teacher education, its convener has stated.

Following a meeting of a task group established by the GTC to draw up its response, Norma Anne Watson told council members last week the time-scale was "quite impossible", there was a complete lack of evidence to back up the Executive's assumptions about what happens in initial teacher education (ITE), and no account was taken of how improvements in ITE are to be resourced.

The Executive wants a two-stage review, as disclosed in The TES Scotland a fortnight ago, kicking off with "a short, focused early examination of some key aspects of ITE".

It is particularly keen to look at student placements in schools, the quality of partnerships between education authorities and teacher education institutions, and the extent to which lecturers have "regular classroom experience". Mrs Watson, whose report was backed by the full council, said:

"To suggest that they can be sorted by June is simply nonsense."

The Executive is also pressing for an investigation of three other areas, involving how would-be teachers are prepared to handle information technology, classroom behaviour and special needs.

Mrs Watson said: "The point was made strongly at the task group that these were difficult areas for experienced teachers, et alone students. To suggest that they could be fixed by summer is not acceptable."

The Executive wants the review carried out by external management consultants, a growing trend about which GTC has "huge reservations". Mrs Watson remarked: "If there is to be a new climate, it must not be seen as a quick fix from a business perspective. The profession itself should be actively involved."

* The GTC is also to protest to the Executive about proposals for a funding shake-up in higher education courses which could cut support for teacher education by 6 per cent, the primary BEd by 12 per cent and in-service programmes by 16 per cent.

Professor Douglas Weir, dean of the education faculty at Strathclyde University, said it would be "perverse and against the national interest" to discriminate against subjects such as teacher education and engineering.

He feared for the future of the BEd degree if the proposals, which are out to consultation from the higher education funding council until the end of this month, went through. A strong four-year undergraduate degree was essential for the credibility of teacher education and its academic standing in comparison with other disciplines.

Professor Gordon Kirk, education dean at Edinburgh University, said this would be another erosion in cash for teacher education, which had seen a staff:student ratio of 8.5:1 in the mid-1980s decline to 20:1 now.

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