Training, like football, is not world class

20th August 2010 at 01:00

In last week's TESS, Brian Boyd referred to an assertion in the HMIE submission to the teacher education review that probationer teachers in this country benefit from a "world-class induction programme".

This claim reminds me of the English football pundits who wax lyrical about their world-class team and world-class players and how much better they are than everyone else, without really giving much thought to what they are talking about or what the reality will be after the event.

The debacle in South Africa demonstrated that England is not a world-class football nation, and much needs to be done before this goal is achieved. The same might be said of our teacher induction system.

The first thing which the probationer teacher must come to terms with is that the year guarantees nothing with regard to permanent employment. But responsibility cannot be abrogated by the General Teaching Council for Scotland when probationers have achieved the Standard for Full Registration, as if somehow the job is then done.

The job is not done until the probationer teacher has secured full-time, permanent employment that will afford them the opportunity to develop and refine the skills nurtured in the probationary year.

It is the responsibility of all in authority working in partnership to ensure that the efforts which these young people have put in, the skills they have developed and the ambitions they have are not lost.

The next thing the probationer has to realise is that the year is not really a year at all: it is about 38 to 40 weeks and, as such, is a sort of maniacal race to try and achieve all that is demanded of them. Their experiences, whether in staff relationships or with CPD, may prove to be wonderful - or they may not. This inconsistency is not good, either for the probationer or for any claim that the system is world class.

I have no doubt that, generally speaking, Scotland's teacher education institutions produce good young teachers, but the system after the probationary period is letting them down and the probationary period itself places unrealistic demands on probationers, mentors and departments. The time is now apposite to consider what improvements need to be made to teacher induction.

Thomas Greene, development officer, Learning and Teaching Scotland.

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