23 SES 01 D, Teacher Education Reforms
This paper will focus on a theoretical analysis of adult literacy teacher training policies and provision in England, regarding their authorship (that is, who creates the policies? And who regulates the provision?), stakeholders, goals, measures, theoretical and conceptual underpinnings.
In order to achieve the aforesaid goal, literature from England was reviewed and documents such as syllabi, legislation and reports were analysed.
As stressed by the EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy, “low literacy remains a taboo subject and thus largely invisible across Europe. In most Member States, there are no surveys or studies, so the scale of the issue simply does not show up”. This has led to an unawareness “of the gravity of the problem” and to “inaction”. Moreover, literacy is indispensable to the development of the human being, personally and culturally (wellbeing, self-confidence, better attitudes to learning, health, more fulfilling lives), socially and civicly (civic involvement, social inclusion, active and informed citizenship), professionally and economically (independence, better employment) (EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy, 2012, p. 77). According to the OECD, “literacy is defined as a particular capacity and mode of behaviour: the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities, at home, at work and in the community — to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential” (OECD, 2000, p. x).
Although “far more evidence on the link between teacher quality and learner gains emerges from the compulsory schooling sector” (Vorhaus, Litster, Frearson & Johnson, 2011, p. 73), research suggests that teacher quality is an important predictor of learner achievement (Cara & Coulon, 2008a; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Vorhaus, Litster, Frearson & Johnson, 2011). Among the most relevant dimensions to teacher quality, seem to be the “number of years’ experience teaching”, the “subject knowledge” and the teachers’ qualifications (Cara & Coulon, 2008b), the “relationship between teacher and learner” (Balatti, Black & Falk, 2007; MacLeod & Straw, 2010), but also teachers’ self-identity, sense of agency and ability to adapt to different contexts and to deal with change. However, there remains much to learn regarding the quality and training of adult literacy teachers.
The EU High Level Group, again, recommended raising “the professional profile of the adult literacy teacher by providing tailored initial and continuing pedagogical training, good career prospects and adequate remuneration” (EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy, 2012, p. 93). Barber and Mourshed stressed that high-performing school systems consistently (i) “get the right people to become teachers”, due to the fact that “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”, and (ii) “develop these people into effective instructors”, because “the only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction”. According to these authors, the third thing that matters most is to ensure that “the system is available to deliver the best possible instruction” (Barber & Mourshed, 2007, p. 13).
This study is the first methodological step of a broader research on adult literacy teacher training and adult literacy teacher quality both in England and in Portugal. The relevance of this project is justified by the fact that Europe is facing a great need for evidence and expertise in the adult literacy sector in general, and in the understanding of adult literacy teacher training and teacher quality in particular. The European Union has great need for cross country comparative research in these areas, as such research is needed to facilitate the development of effective policies, and to avoid the expenses and counter-productive development of ineffective ones.
Amorim, J. P. (2013). Da “Abertura” das Instituições de Ensino Superior a “Novos Públicos”: O Caso Português. Tese apresentada à Universidade Católica Portuguesa para obtenção do grau de Doutor em Ciências da Educação. Sob orientação do Professor Doutor Joaquim Azevedo e do Professor Joaquim Luís Coimbra. Maio de 2013. Porto: Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Faculdade de Educação e Psicologia. Balatti, J., Black, S. & Falk, I. (2007). Teaching for social capital outcomes: The case of adult literacy and numeracy courses. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 47, 2, 245-263. Barber, M. & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top. McKinsey & Company. Cara, O. & Coulon, A. (2008a). Do better qualified teachers teach better? Reflect, 11, 18-19. Cara, O. & Coulon, A. (2008b). Research Summary. Skills for Life Teachers’ Qualifications and Their Learners’ Progress in Adult Numeracy. Analysis of Data from the Skills for Life Teacher and Learner Studies. London: NRDC, Institute of Education. Cara, O., Casey, H. & Mallows, D. (2009). Teachers of adult literacy, numeracy and ESOL: progress towards a qualified workforce. London: NRDC, Institute of Education. Cara, O., Litster, J., Swain, J. and Vorhaus, J. (2008). The Teacher Study: The impact of the Skills for Life strategy on teachers. London: NRDC. Carneiro, R. (Dir.) et al. (2011). Accreditation of prior learning as a lever for lifelong learning: lessons learnt from the New Opportunities Initiative, Portugal. Lisboa: UNESCO, MENON Network e CEPCEP — Centro de Estudos dos Povos e Culturas de Expressão Portuguesa, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8, 1. EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy (2012). Final Report of the EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. MacLeod, S. & Straw, S. (Eds) (2010). Adult basic skills. Reading: CfBT Education Trust. OECD (2000). Literacy in the Information Age: Final Report of the International Adult Literacy Survey. Paris: OECD. OECD (2013). Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD. Vorhaus, J., Litster, J., Frearson, M. & Johnson, S. (2011). Review of Research and Evaluation on Improving Adult Literacy and Numeracy Skills. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
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