Millions pledged to turn teachers into masters

9th November 2012 at 00:00
NPG report picks up Donaldson's idea to make the profession a master's-level one

Funding worth pound;3 million was pledged this week by the Scottish government to support more teachers to undertake master's-level study.

The first pound;1 million has been set aside to pay for the course fees of teachers who were part of the way through the chartered teacher programme before it was discontinued.

The National Partnership Group (NPG) report picks up Graham Donaldson's original proposal in his review Teaching Scotland's Future for a drive towards creating a master's-level profession.

"It is expected that significant numbers of teachers will pursue advanced qualifications as part of their own professional development. This is driven by intrinsic motivation to improve knowledge and skills, refresh and deepen particular aspects of pedagogy, develop specialist skills or place themselves in an advantageous position in respect of promotion," says the report.

It suggests that such advanced professional study should continue to be funded by school or local authority budgets "as a powerful strategy to help to achieve their own priorities and aspirations, within the constraints of available budget allocations".

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan welcomed the investment, but added that his union still believed the Scottish government's decision to close the chartered teacher programme was "a hasty mistake which pre-empted the work of both the NPG and the National Implementation Board".

He added: "Allocating money to encourage teachers to pursue a master's- level qualification, while closing down an internationally-acclaimed programme that encouraged master's-level study, is an irony that will not be lost of Scottish teachers. If the Scottish government is serious about pursuing an all-master's qualified teaching profession, it will also need to talk to the EIS about appropriate master's-level pay."

The NPG's recommendations on master's-level study and the government's response were informed by a separate report, commissioned from Education Scotland, Moving Forward with Teacher Professional Learning.

The Donaldson report had expressed scepticism over the impact of the chartered teacher scheme, as did a 2010 HMIE report, Learning Together: Improving teaching, improving learning.

This week's Education Scotland report also underlines those earlier concerns, stating: "The research and professional learning led by chartered teachers has not been effectively shared, and schools, local authorities and teachers would benefit from sharing the outcomes of professional enquiry more effectively."

The most successful elements of the chartered teacher scheme included:

- enhanced skills, knowledge and dispositions arising from part of local andor national communities of practice;

- deeper understanding of pedagogy through direct links between theory and practice;

- increased confidence and skill in critical reflection and self- evaluation, leading to impact on classroom practice.

But it adds that there has been significant variation in practice, largely down to the climate and culture within a school.

"To succeed, the (master's-level) policy will require strong, collegiate leadership across all partners and within schools, and also significant investment," it concludes.

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