Lack of evidence

29th December 2000 at 00:00
IT IS regrettable that so distinguished a figure as John Mulgrew - with his own long-standing links to teacher education - should choose to use his inauguration as President of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland to attack the quality of the teacher education institutions (TESS, December 8).

While there are obvious and pressing areas for development in the sector, Mr Mulgrew's comments reflect little recognition of the outstanding work that has been done in the past ten years to reinvigorate the partnership between schools and TEIs - a process that has been widely acclaimed and imitated whenever it has been subject to systematic scrutiny.

Against a background of shifting political and curricular priorities, drastic resource constraint, swingeing cuts in staffing, and now steady absorption into the research-driven university system, TEIs have endeavoured to maintain the closest possible association with schools and with teachers. The recent expansion of CPD and the key roles TEI personnel have played in its classroom delivery serve to confirm the value and relevance attached by the profession to the sctor's contribution to teaching and learning across Scotland.

Most confusing in Mr Mulgrew's remarks is the absence of evidence. Initial teacher education in TEIs is subject to an almost unparalleled regime of quality assurance, involving systematic review by SHEFC, QAA, HMI, GTC and the various headteacher organisations. Internal procedures for approval and monitoring of ITE courses are equally rigorous. As in all such systems of inspection, these processes do sometimes reveal issues of concern, and underline the need for ongoing change and improvement within TEIs. They have also, however, highlighted the overall excellence of initial teacher education in Scotland.

It will therefore come as no surprise that Mr Mulgrew's criticisms find little echo in the perceptions of external agencies, students or schools themselves.

It is to be hoped that a more balanced picture will emerge as the partnership between TEIs and local authorities proceeds to formulate a shared response to the post-McCrone challenges.

Robert Davis

Senior lecturer in curriculum studies, faculty of education, Glasgow University

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