10 SES 03 A, Learning to Teach: Qualifications and Standards
In England teaching qualification requirements have become more variable than ever before, with the need to be ‘qualified to teach’ varying by educational sector, school status and even school or college senior leadership team expectations . It is suggested that this dichotomy in teacher status in England may not be the most effective way to sustain an effective teaching profession or outstanding learning experience for students.
“The separate traditions of training school, college and HE teachers appear to be as strong as ever, as is a trend of ever-greater and more complex forms of regulation”. (Lucas and Nasta, 2010, p. 441)
Teacher education and training has always had a confused identity in England, bound to separate systems dependent on the education sector involved (compulsory or further education/lifelong learning sector). However, teacher education and training for schools and colleges has at its core the professional teacher, educated to engage with the pedagogy of teaching and taught the skills of classroom practice by committed teacher educators and school professional tutors and subject mentors.
This paper argues for integrated education and training for teaching professionals through professional convergence. A Universal Teaching Qualification offers an opportunity for a collaborative learning model (on a non-reductive basis) of academic, professional and vocational strands, which follow approaches and methodologies that can initiate and sustain life-long learning. It recognises the underpinning similarities in pedagogy/andragogy in establishing application to different teaching environments and locations as the potential for a more universal approach to teacher education.
The Skills Commission (2010) released a report on 'Teacher Training in Vocation Education', listing a number of recommendations to move towards a more unified system of teacher education for both sectors. The report concluded with a recommendation for a ‘universal’ teaching qualification to support professional convergence across sectors, thereby ensuring quality outcomes for learners and parity of experience for teachers/lecturers.
Educational policy papers in England, 'The Importance of Teaching' (DfE, 2010) and ‘Training our next generation of outstanding teachers’ (DfE, 2011), presented radical changes that focussed on compulsory education and the ‘training’ of teachers for school Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The Wolf Report (DfE, 2011) acknowledge teaching across schools and colleges (particularly 14-19) and recommended that college lecturers with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status (QTLS) be recognized as equal in status to teachers with QTS when working in schools. This change was accepted for immediate implementation, highlighting the disparity of teachers’ status compounded by the separation of political governance for schools and colleges. However, in 2012 the Minister of State for Education in England removed the requirement for teachers in schools outside of local authority control, for example academies and free schools, to employ qualified teachers. More than 2000 secondary and 1500 primary schools in England have converted to academy status in 2014, resulting in this policy change allowing significant further disparity in teaching status.
This paper aims to examine the political and social context of teacher education and teacher status in compulsory and further education in order to establish the challenges and opportunities for professional convergence through a universal teaching qualification in England. Teacher educators' in England perceptions of existing teaching qualifications and of professional convergence, including a potential universal teaching qualification, are investigated using a qualitative approach. Findings suggest that political and educational support exists for professional convergence in teaching in England, but that political organisation presents a barrier to a universal teaching qualification and status.
DfE (2011) A Review of Vocational Education: The Wolf Report. London: Department of Education . DfE (2010) The Importance of Teaching. London: DfE. DfE (2011) Training our Next Generation of Outstanding Teachers: An improvement strategy for discussion. London: DfE. Lucas, N and Nasta, T. (2010) State regulation and the professionalisation of FE teachers: A comparison with schools and HE. Vocational Education and Training , 441-454. Skills Commission (2010) Teacher Training in Vocational Education. London: Skills Commission.
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