Teacher qualifications no longer appropriate

12th January 2001 at 00:00
I read with mounting incredulity and no little irritation John Mulgrew's ill tempered attack on the quality of the teacher education institutions (TESS, December 8). I was therefore pleased to see that Bob Davis of Glasgow University has sought to refute John Mulgrew's claims and to present a more balanced picture (TESS, December 29). For my part I had not intended to become involved but in the event I found the temptation irresistible.

John Mulgrew's comments are highly redolent of the McCrone Report's observations on what it describes in Section 3 as "Initial Training".

In its response to the report the GTC expressed disappointment "that, on the basis of fairly flimsy evidence, the McCrone Committee has fallen into the trap of: making ill-informed, outdated and superficial comment on the work undertaken in the teacher education institutions; criticising the professional capability of teaching staff in the teacher education institutions; taking the outmoded view that, as far as teacher education is concerned, theory is provided in the institutions and practice in the schools."

I fear that John Mulgrew has fallen into precisely the same trap and, like Bob Davis, I am concerned about the absence of evidence. Intemerate comments of this kind do nothing to help the cause of professional partnership and are positively damaging to morale in the teacher education sector.

The GTC does however agree that a wide-ranging review of the structure and organisation of initial teacher education is overdue but not for the reasons suggested by John Mulgrew.

Pressures for change include the establishment of the 5-14 programme, the call for greater specialisation in upper primary, the increasing criticism of achievement in lower secondary, the overloading of the BEd (Primary) degree, the introduction of Higher Still, the developing secondaryfurther education interface and so on.

There have been so many developments in education in recent years that the current pattern of teaching qualifications is no longer appropriate and needs to be overhauled.

I hope that the Scottish Executive Education Department will soon announce a review of initial teacher education, that such an announcement will be seen in a positive and constructive light and that the review itself will not be used as an excuse for "teacher education institution-bashing".

(Dr) Ivor Sutherland

Registrar, General Teaching Council for Scotland, Edinburgh


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