Teacher training set for a spring clean

6th October 2000 at 01:00
A REVIEW of teacher training came a step closer this week with the first meeting on Wednesday of the new ministerial strategy committee for continuing professional development. The General Teaching Council for Scotland meanwhile is to pursue proposals for an overhaul of the qualifications structure in initial teacher education.

The significance being attached to training is underlined by the fact that the committee on CPD is to be chaired by Peter Peacock, Deputy Minister for Children and Education. While the committee is nominally restricted to ongoing staff training, one Executive insider pointed out: "We can only sensibly build CPD on the basis of what we understand initial teacher education to be."

Mr Peacock has made it clear, writing in The TES Scotland on September 22, that "the committee will consider extending its remit to oversee issues relating to initial teacher education - the building block on which CPD rests".

Donald Dewar, the First Minister, has also signalled his view that initial training will have to change radically as pupils become critical thinkers not just recipients of subject content.

Ivor Sutherland, registrar of the GTC, said that a review of initial teacher education might be under way by the spring.

Added imptus has been given to the issues by the much criticised observations of the McCrone committee which suggested that lecturers in teacher education institutions might be "out of touch" with schools. The committee recommended a review of the design of initial training courses, wants lecturers to spend time in schools and says ministers should consider designating some schools to provide trainee placements.

Although critical of McCrone's "empty criticisms", Dr Sutherland said there was now "an acceptance that change probably has to come and that qualifications we have had for some time are perhaps outdated and need to be revamped". Any change should not undermine the quality of courses, which he believes are sound, but focus on the structure and organisation of qualifications.

The GTC, meeting in Glasgow this week, agreed to take up proposals made by Gordon Kirk, its vice-convener and principal of Moray House Institute, who has argued that there is "a substantial case for change".

Professor Kirk advocates three new qualifications - a course for teachers of children up to the age of eight, from ages 9-14 to end primary-secondary dislocation and from 15-plus which would allow FE lecturers and secondary teachers to work in each other's sector.

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