10 SES 11 D, ‘Professionalism’ and the Governance of Teacher Education across the British Isles
Before the devolution of powers in the late 1990s, the governance of teacher education in Northern Ireland was broadly in line with that in other parts of the UK. Divergence emerged when the strands of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism which increasingly characterised policy in England and Wales, ensured a move away from a discourse of ‘teacher education’ towards one of ‘teacher training’ with a focus on competence-based approaches. In 2002 the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) was established and in 2005, the GTCNI reviewed the existing teacher competences model and what emerged was ‘Teaching: The Reflective Profession’. Central to this landmark document was the concept of teaching as a values-based profession underpinned by continuous professional learning and development. This paper, examines the extent to which the GTCNI Competence Framework offers a mode of professional governance which promotes critically reflective practitioners and rejects the technical-rational approaches to teacher learning, which are increasingly characteristic of trends in other parts of the UK. It also identifies a range of factors: contextual; political; and ideological which mitigate the potential of teacher education in Northern Ireland to develop on the basis of ‘active trust’ in order to build a world-class system of teacher education.
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