Thumbs up or down for Donaldson?

28th January 2011 at 00:00

Graham Donaldson is to be commended for his excellent review of teacher education. His choice of title, Teaching Scotland's Future, signifies the importance of the document and its recommendations for teacher education in Scotland. It is refreshing that the report acknowledges strengths as well as posing significant challenges to current practice.

The main themes are very much to be welcomed. The broad vision is of teachers as reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals. Teacher education should be much more effectively directed towards professional learning and development throughout a career, and there should be much greater attention to the coherence and continuity of provision.

Particularly welcome from a higher education perspective is the emphasis in the report on the role played by Scotland's universities, which Donaldson sees as central to building the kind of 21st-century profession which he believes to be necessary. Indeed, the role of the universities is a key feature of the landscape of teacher education in Scotland, which is much admired in other countries. Broadly speaking, while there are significant challenges for the universities, the report should be seen as providing exciting opportunities rather than threats.

The clear call for more effective partnerships among universities, local authorities and schools is a welcome stimulus for the kinds of genuine dialogue and collaborative engagement that now needs to take place in order to move toward implementing the report's recommendations.

Donald Christie, head of the school of education, Strathclyde University.

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