Students training to teach in primary schools are not sufficiently challenged intellectually, the head of teacher education at Paisley University says. Gordon Wilson, director of the university's Craigie campus in Ayr, believes courses must allow more time for in-depth study and intellectual reflection.
Professor Wilson told an audience at the university on Monday: "I do not believe the Scottish guidelines for teacher education are by any means ideal. I have a particular concern about the guidelines for the BEd primary degree programme which recruits hundreds of well-qualified, highly motivated students and puts them through a tightly structured programme covering a wide range of curriculum and professional issues."
He said that the programme was too tight and prescriptive. There was a need for "some relaxation and some encouragement for study in depth and for intellectual reflection for BEd students". But he accepted that this would not be popular with colleagues committed to the BEd programme.
If students got more "added value" from their education, they would become better teachers and would contribute more to the promotion of democratic values, Professor Wilson said. The theme of his lecture was "education and democracy", and he defended the "consistent, liberal consensus" in the profession.
"By liberal I mean pupil-centred, basically democratic but hard-headed and realistic about control and discipline." The main voice for these attributes was the General Teaching Council, of which Professor Wilson is a former member.
He attacked the political rhetoric which tried to blame teachers for the ills of society and said: "I particularly regret that this new Government, in line with the previous government, has chosen to put so much emphasis on getting rid of weak teachers instead of encouraging, praising and rewarding the vast majority of good teachers."