10 SES 02 D, Partnerships, Qualifications and Inquiry in Teacher Education
University-school partnerships are a central feature of teacher education (both pre- and in-service provision) in many European countries. The synergy between the ‘academic’ expertise of University teacher educators and the ‘practical’ knowledge of teachers in schools is argued to be of value in programmes of teacher development (Pedder et al 2010). In the UK context, there has often been an emphasis in such partnerships on critically reflective practice within all aspects of teacher development. By developing research-informed, critical stances towards classroom practice amongst teachers, and promoting the perspective of seeing schools within the context of the wider social policies that impact upon the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom (Brookfield 1995), University-school partnerships aim to enhance the learning and teaching experiences of students in schools.
The most effective university-school partnerships in the UK are long-standing, stable and united by a common set of expectations about what constitutes the principles of effective learning and teaching (Moore et al 2005). However, since the 1990s, the functioning of university-school partnerships in England has been fundamentally refocused by successive governments’ policies that have progressively shifted the lead in teacher education away from universities towards ‘school-led’ provision (DfE 2011; Furlong 2013).
The political context of this shift is an era of ‘New Public Management’ (Apple 2005), where schools and universities have to conform to a centrally-regulated ‘audit culture’ within the context of a neo-liberal market environment (Ball 2003; Mansell 2007; Wilkins & Wood 2009). In this culture, teachers are subject to standardised criteria for successful performance (Teachers’ Standards) and a series of benchmarks that identify minimum levels of performance at strategic thresholds of a teacher’s career, including initial entry and promotions. The Teachers’ Standards, while acknowledging the need for some degree of reflection by teachers, tend to focus on the ‘practical skills’ of teaching and the values that align with compliant conformity to centrally-determined ‘good practice’. This compliance is reinforced through a rigourous inspection regime in both universities and schools, where the judgements of centrally employed inspection teams on the basis of a centrally determined inspection frameworks can have adverse and sometimes fatal consequences for the institution inspected. The reduction in emphasis on the more ‘theoretical’ aspects of teacher education, as opposed to training, leads to a more ‘instrumental’ view of teaching (Leaton-Gray 2006) that undermines the idea of developing the critically reflective teacher.
Within this context, the EU Tempus project which is the focus of this proposal (and about which a paper was presented at ECER last year concerning initial findings) has been exploring the ideas of good practice in the three linked areas of the teaching practicum, teacher professional development and action research. The EU TEMPUS project involves 14 partners from 8 countries in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. The project’s aims are primarily knowledge transfer and capacity building amongst all the participants, with the intention of learning from each other about the complexities, affordances and barriers of creating effective partnerships between universities and schools around these three dimensions.
Apple, M.W. (2005) Education, markets, and an audit culture. Critical Quarterly 47(1-2):11-29. Ball, S.J. (2003) The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity JEP 18(2):215-228. Brookfield, S.D. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher San Francisco: Jossey Bass. DfE (2011) Training our next generation of teachers: An improvement strategy for discussion. London: DfE. Furlong, J. (2013) Globalisation, Neoliberalism, and the Reform of Teacher Education in England, The Educational Forum, 77 (1) p. 28-50. Leaton Gray, S. (2006) What Does it Mean to Be a Teacher? Three Tensions within Contemporary Teacher Professionalism Examined in Terms of Government Policy and the Knowledge Economy. Forum 48(3):305-315. Mansell, W. (2007) Education by Numbers; The Tyranny of Testing. London: Politicos Publishing. Moor, H., Lord, P., Johnson, A. and Martin, K (2005) ‘All together better’: An evaluation of the GTC-DfES-LEA Continuing Professional Development Partnership Project. Slough: NFER. Pedder, D., Opfer, D.V., McCormick, R. &Storey, A. (2010) ‘Schools and Continuing Professional Development in England – State of the Nation’ research study: policy context, aims and design. Curriculum Journal, 21(4):365-394. Wilkins C & Wood, P. (2009) ITE in the Panopticon, JET, 35(3):283-297.
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