Misconstrued to a degree over routes into teaching

19th February 2010 at 00:00

Jim Conroy takes issue with me (TESS, last week) concerning the standard of knowledge expected of trainee teachers, on the basis of something I did not say and certainly do not believe. I do not believe that a proper investigation would find the PGDE is any more intellectually rigorous than the BEd, so there is not a simple solution to the problems we face.

The intellectual advantages of the postgraduate route have nothing to do with the PGDE, but simply are because those who follow it already have a degree in something else and so are more likely to have some properly- developed understanding of a body of significant knowledge. Nor did I "base my case" on only one investigation. The worry is that we now have several different sources of evidence casting doubt on the standards of important aspects of pedagogy in primary schools. The most compelling is from repeated international studies and waves of the Scottish Survey of Achievement. The Dundee study of BEd students is relevant here, not as the definitive source of concern but as casting some light on the evidence from high-quality sources.

None of this is the fault of the teachers. The problem lies in what society expects of them and gives to them in the form of an education. We are letting them down.

Lindsay Paterson, School of Education, Edinburgh University.

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