10 SES 06 C, Teacher engagement, assessment practices and strategic partnership
Over the last decade, a marked shift in the reform of initial teacher education (ITE) in England has been linked to school-led teacher preparation. Since the late 80’s, this country has introduced employment-based schemes to train prospective teachers. More recently, the government’s ambition has been to ‘provide more opportunities for a larger proportion of trainees to learn on the job by improving and expanding the best of the current school-based routes into teaching’ (Department for Education, 2010, p. 23). A key strategy to establish the school-led ITE was the institution of teaching schools (TS) and the establishment of a new employment mode - the School Direct Salaried Scheme (SDS), in continuity with the graduate teaching programme (GTP).
The newly created TSs are in the lead. These can choose their training provider to deliver SD and select their candidates. In order to deliver their training provision, TSs can chose between a variety of strategic partners, from LA, to traditional HEIs and local groups of schools (SCITTs). Because the government encourages schools to become acredited training providers and proritised SCITTs in the allocation process of the training places (Mutton, Burn & Menter, 2017), there has been related growth of the employment based route. This trend has also implied that a significant number of TS partner with SCITTs and their SD trainees that may or may not opt for a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).
In addition, there is considerable variation across England regarding how SD programmes are conceived and shaped at the school level. One source of such variation comes from the SD formats: (1) tuition fee paying and (2) salaried (National College for Teaching and Leadership, 2014). These differ significantly in that under the former, recruits are paying fees for their experience whilst, for the latter, they are employed by the school. Another major source of local diversification comes from the TSs’ choice of the strategic partner to deliver the programme. This is a key contextual factor that increases the variation from locality to locality. TSs can chose between a wide variety of strategic partners whose nature and vision determines the orientation of the whole training process. As stated by Brown and colleagues (2017) SD courses vary “greatly between different partnership arrangements across the country, leading to greater fragmentation within the system as a whole”.
Conceptually, we consider that teacher education programmes differ in their organisational mission and goals. University-based programmes differ from non-university types because they promote broader aims, such as education for citizenship, rather than simply job training (Gatlin 2009 in Lincove et al., 2015). The underlying premise is that specific institutions, policies, and practices may significantly influence not only the knowledge profile in certain settings (Paine and Zeichner, 2012), but also how training processes are reconfigured. In other words, the context of teacher preparation, both at the national and the local institutional level, is a key issue.
In this paper we aim to understand:
(RO1) In which ways may a TS’s choice of a particular strategic partner affect training, that is, the learning opportunities and the overall vision.
(RO2) How particular TS operational choices and strategic partners' cultures may influence ITE provision
Fieldwork was conducted in two SD programmes set in different locations in England: one was rural and the other urban. The rural programme offered SD tuition fee paying (SDT) through a partnership between a TS and a university that delivered tuition and awarded successful candidates the PGCE and seven neighbouring secondary schools that had formed a consortium to promote educational opportunities, as well as teacher recruitment, in the remote rural locality. By contrast, the urban case was an employment-based SDS route run collaboratively by a TS, together with a local consortium of schools (SCITT). Training has two major components: (1) one refers to the on the job/school experience and mentoring (2) the other to more specific training, that is transmitting knowledge/outstanding practice and organised in general pedagogical (GP), subject-based (SB) and school-level policy (SP) sessions. For the SDT programme (1st case), the alliance took responsibility for the first component, that of the school experience. It arranged the school placements, ensuring that the beginner teachers had opportunities to experience a range of schools and work alongside different mentors. For the specific training, there was a programme of studies organised on a one day a week basis. For this, the university staff delivered GP and SB content at the university campus, and then similar, related issues in terms of SP were covered by the school staff, through sessions held at the schools, later in the week. For the SDS programme (2nd case), the TS (alliance) organized the school experience and mentoring, as well as SP sessions. The SCITT delivered a specific training developed directly with the help of the teachers in the alliance. We chose in this case to look into the configuration of the specific training provision and not into the difference of path. We adopt a comparative case study methodology and the object of our study is the influence of specific institutional arrangements on the nature of ITE provision. The two researchers carried out their own fieldwork through observations and interviewing on the sites. Subsequently, the data were subjected to thematic analysis to probe the nature of the two sites. A wide variety of data empirical collection has been deployed and we draw mainly on data from interviews with key participants conducted on both sites.
The analysis of two cases of alternative preparation in England sheds light on how the newly created TSs operate in two different contexts, and how the training parameters are redefined when the type of the ITE provider varies. Our findings indicate that in both cases the TS played quite a limited role in training. When the TS choses to work with a SCITT, the role it plays with the organization of the SD path is quite limited: through informal agreements many of the tasks of a TS are delegated to its strategic partner. In the second case, the TS chooses a university provider and provides insignificant inputs regarding both the operation of the programme, and in the creation of a truly operational alliance. The TS distributed funding and was the legal structure that gave the group of schools permission to operate SD. In the first case, a protective setting for teacher learning, usually provided by universities, is absent. This implies that the theoretical input is limited, as substantiated mainly in “abstract reasoning” often around teaching standards. In addition, the links between specific training and experience were weak and left to trainees themselves. Moreover, in this case sharing best practices with outstanding teachers encapsulated, quite paradoxically, a prescriptive focus on ‘what works’. The second case could be considered as a half-way measure that continues to draw on conventional university provision but capitalises on the chance for schools to take control of ITE under the SD initiative. The university provides a somewhat protective environment for critical analysis and research based learning, even though this has been moderated by the changed ITE landscape. The very idea of preparation can be transformed in various environments under the influence of national and global pressures: an outcome to be considered by policy makers.
Brown, T., Rowley, H. and Smith, K. (2017). The beginnings of school led teacher training: New challenges for university teacher education. School Direct Research Project Final Report. Manchester Metropolitan University. Retrieved from http://www.esri.mmu.ac.uk/resgroups/schooldirect.pdf Department for Education (2010). The Importance of Teaching. The Education White Paper. London: The Stationary Office Gatlin, D. (2009). “A pluralistic approach to the revitalization of teacher education”. Journal of Teacher Education 60(5): 469-477. Lincove, J.A., Osborne, C., Mills, N. and Bellows, L. (2015). “Teacher preparation for profit or prestige: analysis of a diverse market for teacher preparation”. Journal of Teacher Education 66(5): 415-434. Mutton, T., Burn, K. and Menter, I. (2017). “Deconstructing the Carter Review: competing conceptions of quality in England’s ‘school-led’ system of initial teacher education”. Journal of Education Policy, 32(1): 14-33, DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2016.1214751P National College for Teaching and Leadership (2014) School Direct: guidance for schools. Retrieved from www.gov.uk/guidance/school-direct-guidance-for-lead-schools Paine, L. and Zeichner, K. (2012). “The local and the global in reforming teaching and teacher education”. Comparative Education Review 56(4): 569-583. Whitty, G. and Gore, J. (2015). Reform and the reconceptualization of teacher education in England and Australia. Paper presented to BERA Annual Conference, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
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