REFLECTING ON EXPERIENCES OF THE TEACHER INDUCTION SCHEME

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1 REFLECTING ON EXPERIENCES OF THE TEACHER INDUCTION SCHEME September 2005 Myra A Pearson, Depute Registrar (Education) Dr Dean Robson, Professional Officer

2 First Published 2005 The General Teaching Council Scotland This book is published for The General Teaching Council Scotland. The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The General Teaching Council Scotland. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication can be accepted by the author or publisher. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. Printed and bound in Great Britain

3 The General Teaching Council for Scotland ( the Council ) was set up under the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act It was the first such body for teachers in the United Kingdom and, indeed, one of the first teaching councils in the world. One of the fundamental principles underlying the work of the Council is that of professional self-government. The public interest is represented on the Council. Its membership of 50 consists of 26 elected registered teacher members; 18 appointed members representing local authorities, directors of education, directors of social work, further and higher education institutions, the churches and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools; and 6 members nominated by Scottish Ministers. The Council is an advisory non-departmental public body (NDPB), but differs from other NDPBs in that it is funded from the annual registration fees paid by registered teachers and not from the public purse. With regard to the public interest, policy statements and general advice issued by the Council are made available to the public and Minutes of meetings of the Council are made available to the press and on the Internet, subject to confidentiality in the Council s case work. The Standards in Scotland s Schools etc Act 2000 made a number of important changes to the functions of the Council. In the light of these changes this Code of Practice on Teacher Competence is intended to illustrate how the Council defines teacher competence and the proposed procedures for dealing with cases of under-performance. The principal aims of the General Teaching Council for Scotland are: To contribute to improving the quality of teaching and learning; To maintain and to enhance professional standards in schools and colleges in collaboration with partners including teachers, employing authorities, teacher education institutions, parents and the Scottish Executive Education Department; To be recognised as a voice and advocate for the teaching profession; To contribute to the development of a world-class educational system in Scotland. The Council s key functions are: To maintain and enhance the quality of teaching in Scotland; To maintain standards of professional conduct and competence in teaching; To provide advice on the entry requirements for initial teacher education and the supply of teachers; To enhance the status and standing of teaching and the teaching profession; To develop the strengths of Council staff; To run an effective and cost-efficient organisation.

4 Contents Page 1 Introduction Standard for Full Registration Research Survey 7 2 Survey Findings : Initial Teacher Education and the Induction Year General Analysis Sector Analysis Qualitative Analysis 10 3 Content and Structure of ITE Programmes Positive Aspects Issues and Concerns 11 4 School Experience Elements of ITE Programmes 12 5 Standard for Initial Teacher Education 13 6 Development Targets 13 7 Conclusions 13 8 Recommendations 15 5

5 1 Introduction 1.1 Standard for Full Registration The Standard for Full Registration (SFR), published in June 2002, was the result of a joint project between the General Teaching Council for Scotland and the Scottish Executive Education Department. One of the major aims of the project was to develop a set of standards that will govern the transition from provisional to full registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. As the project developed that set of standards became known as the Standard for Full Registration. The Council believes that the Standard for Full Registration is an important milestone for the teaching profession in Scotland. It serves two main purposes. It provides: a clear and concise description of the professional qualities and capabilities teachers are expected to develop in the course of induction; a professional standard against which reliable and consistent decisions can be made on the fitness of new teachers for full registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. In other words it sets out clearly what is expected of new teachers during their induction process and it provides a professional standard against which decisions will be taken on full registration. But the Standard is much more than that. It provides a structure for schools and employers developing the first stage of the new national framework for Continuing Professional Development for all of our teachers. A commitment to lifelong learning and personal development is at the heart of what it means to be part of a learning profession. As probationer teachers work towards the SFR they need guidance and support to address specific development needs. This support has been delivered through structured induction programmes organised by local education authorities and schools. It is based on a process of professional review and development which encourages self-reflection on the part of our new teachers and encourages them to prioritise their professional development. 1.2 Research Survey The quantitative review of the Teacher Induction Scheme undertaken during indicated that the scheme had been very successful in its first year of operation with clear evidence to show that probationer teachers were being well supported during their Induction year. A similar review was carried out during Again the findings of the review indicated that the Teacher Induction Scheme provided a high level of support to probationer teachers during their Induction year. In general, the Teacher Induction Scheme has been one of the most successful education initiatives in Scotland in recent years. In March 2005 the Council undertook a survey of the 3908 teachers who had gained full registration in June 2003 and June 2004, ie the first two groups of new teachers who were involve in the Teacher Induction Scheme. A total of 1222 responses (31.3%) were received. Of those who responded, 49.3% had participated in the scheme and 49.8% in the scheme. A total of 55% of the respondents were from the primary sector and 45% were from the secondary sector. This reflects the proportions of new teachers joining the profession. The survey comprised of a confidential questionnaire entitled Reflecting on Experiences of the Teacher Induction Scheme. The questionnaire was divided into four sections: current employment status; teachers perceptions of Initial Teacher Education and links between Initial Teacher Education and the Induction year; teachers view of the Teacher Induction Scheme; links between Teacher Induction Scheme and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the early years of teaching. This paper presents the findings of the analysis in relation to sections and above. 7

6 2 Survey Findings : Initial Teacher Education and the Induction Year 2.1 General Analysis Section 2 of the survey, ie teachers perceptions of Initial Teacher Education and links between Initial Teacher Education and the Induction year, focussed on four key issues: how well the taught elements of the Initial Teacher Education programme prepared the new teachers for their Induction year; how well the school experience elements of the Initial Teacher Education programme prepared the new teachers for their Induction year; whether or not the standard for Initial Teacher Education was clearly defined; whether development targets were discussed and defined for the induction year. Respondents were invited to rate their responses using a four point Likert scale with specific responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The responses received in relation to each of the four questions are shown in table 1 below. Question Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree Not Specified The taught elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. 10.7% 62.5% 21.0% 4.5% 1.2% The school experience elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. The requirements of the Standard for ITE (SITE) were clearly defined during my ITE course. At the completion of my ITE course, development targets were defined in my ITE profile to be addressed during my induction year. 49.4% 44.9% 4.2% 0.5% 1.0% 27.5% 59.9% 9.3% 1.7% 1.5% 27.5% 56.5% 12.3% 2.0% 1.7% Table 1: Responses to Questions relating to the Articulation between Initial Teacher Education and the Teacher Induction Scheme In many respects the data presented in the above table reinforces what many people already believe about the strengths and weaknesses of Initial Teacher Education programmes. Looking at the quantitative data alone might suggest that for most of our new teachers, ie more than 70%, their initial teacher education programmes, both the in-faculty taught elements and the school experience elements prepare new teachers well for the challenges that face them both in the Induction year and beyond, the Standard for Initial Teacher Education (SITE) has been explained and understood and the final profile identifies clear professional development targets to be addressed during the Induction year. However: 311 respondents did not agree with the statement that the taught elements prepared them for their Induction year; 134 did not agree with the statement that SITE had been explained; and 171 did not agree that development targets had been set for the Induction year. If this survey is indeed representative of the whole group of teachers from the and , then perhaps the picture is not quite as rosy as might first appear. 8

7 2.2 Sector Analysis Were the response rates similar for the primary and secondary sectors? To evaluate whether this was in fact the case the responses we split by sector. Table 2 below indicates the response rates from primary teachers. Overall, the figures were quite similar to the general figures presented in Table 1. Although there was some variation in comparison with the general number of respondents who strongly agreed (42.7% rather than 49.4%) or agreed (50.9% rather than 44.9%) that school experience prepared them well for the Induction year, in general, more than 90% of primary teachers agreed that school experience provided a good experience. Question Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree Not Specified The taught elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. 10.0% 66.8% 19.2% 3.0% 1.0% The school experience elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. The requirements of the Standard for ITE (SITE) were clearly defined during my ITE course. At the completion of my ITE course, development targets were defined in my ITE profile to be addressed during my induction year. Table 2 : Primary Sector Responses 42.7% 50.9% 5.2% 0.3% 0.9% 27.9% 60.1% 9.2% 1.6% 1.2% 27.7% 58.8% 10.2% 1.5% 1.8% Table 3 below indicates the response rates from secondary teachers. Again, the figures are quite similar to the general figures presented in Table 1. A slightly higher percentage of respondents (almost 96%) believe that the school experience elements prepare them well for the Induction year. Question Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree Not Specified The taught elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. 11.7% 57.8% 23.5% 6.4% 0.6% The school experience elements of my ITE course prepared me well for my experiences during my induction year. The requirements of the Standard for ITE (SITE) were clearly defined during my ITE course. At the completion of my ITE course, development targets were defined in my ITE profile to be addressed during my induction year. Table 3 : Secondary Sector Reponses 58.0% 37.7% 2.9% 0.7% 0.7% 27.2% 60.0% 9.4% 1.8% 1.7% 27.2% 53.9% 14.6% 2.6% 1.5% 9

8 2.3 Qualitative Analysis In addition to responding to the statements above, respondents were also invited to write comments related to two open - response questions. The first question related to their reasons for disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with any of the four questions asked in this section. However, the majority of respondents included comments in this section whether or not they ticked the disagreed or strongly disagreed categories. The second question asked respondents to identify particularly positive aspects of their Initial Teacher Education programme. An analysis of the open response questions provides a valuable insight into what our new teachers see as the key strengths of our existing initial teacher education programmes and the key issues and concerns they believe should be addressed. Some typical comments from the questionnaires have been included in italics. The remaining sections of this paper summarise the key issues raised in relation to: Content and Structure of ITE Programmes; School Experience Elements of ITE Programmes; Standard for Initial Teacher Education; Development Targets. 3 Content and Structure of ITE Programmes 3.1 Positive Aspects A large number of comments were made in relation to positive aspects of the initial teacher education programmes. Listed below are a number of the most commonly raised points: The value of school experience placements. You learn most from practical school experience. Real teachers. The high quality of support offered by: staff in the universities; staff in schools; support services in the universities to help students experiencing personal difficulties. (v) (vi) (vii) The constructive feedback received from staff in the universities and schools regarding their development as teachers. The balance of school experience and the taught elements of the programmes was considered appropriate. All practical elements of the programmes such as school experience placements, workshops related to Expressive Arts and Science and subject tutorials were seen to be of more value to a teacher/student at this early stage of their development. Respondents emphasised the importance of knowing how to teach and what to teach. Opportunities that allowed students to interact, for example, where several students were placed in the same school was seen as being of great value in helping students come to terms with the reality of being a teacher. The high standards expected of students. 10

9 3.2 Issues and Concerns The most commonly raised issues and concerns regarding the content and structure of ITE programmes are listed below: Many respondents believed that too much emphasis was placed on theory and too little on how the theory related to the practicalities of organising and managing a class of pupils. A number of respondents suggested that the theoretical inputs in ITE programmes come at too early a stage before students have enough experience and understanding of what teaching is about and therefore they have difficulty contextualising the theories explained. While some respondents thought that the content of the ITE programme was interesting there was general agreement that more specific, practical input was needed in relation to issues such as: forward planning; setting; differentiation; behaviour/classroom management; dealing with disruptive pupils; assessment and in particular National Assessment and formative assessment; recordkeeping; timetabling; time management; dealing with confrontational parents; writing reports; collaborative learning; multiple intelligences. It was the view of many of the respondents that too much emphasis was given to Professional Studies with limited explicit emphasis being given to the impact of the issues discussed on learning and teaching (see above). Too much time devoted to studying the principles of education. Too much time spent on peripheral issues policy rather than practice. Lack of practical strategies for dealing with issues in the classroom. (v) More emphasis was needed to be placed on discussing current educational initiatives such as Assessment for Learning, Enterprise and Health-Promoting schools. Some of the assessment tasks seemed, from the respondents perspective, to bear little relevance to the task of teaching and as a result were seen to be of limited value. The taught course was a series of hurdles to be jumped. Too much emphasis on proving that students were applying theory to practice. (vi) Concerns were expressed about the quality and experience of university staff working with students. There were a number of respondents who felt that some lecturers: were out of touch with what happens at the chalk face ; or had been out of teaching too long and had romanticised notions or old-fashioned notions of what teaching was about; seemed to be distant from the day to day concerns of the classroom; were not always aware of what went on in a classroom; However, these comments must be balanced against the very positive comments made about university staff and the support they provide for students (see 3.1). 11

10 (vii) (viii) (ix) Many elements taught in the university were hard to understand and to appreciate the relevance of without classroom experience. There was a strong feeling that there was too much too soon without students having little experience on which to contextualise their learning (see above). There was a need for more concrete advice. The one year Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate in Education, both primary and secondary, were considered too short to give sufficient time to prepare students for teaching. The programmes were too packed. A small number of primary teachers expressed concern that they were not adequately prepared to teach mathematics, reading, writing or spelling or some of the more practical subjects. Secondary teachers also identified concerns about being adequately prepared to teach courses in S3 to S6 and many felt there was a need for more subject specific input rather than generic pedagogy. 4 School Experience Elements of ITE Programmes Not surprisingly, school experience was viewed by almost all respondents as the most useful part of Initial Teacher Education; it was seen to be the best place to learn about the reality of day to day teaching and most respondents felt that more time should be spent in schools particularly during the early parts of the ITE programmes. Respondents welcomed the opportunity to be placed in a variety of schools as it gave them a better, broader understanding of the context in which teachers and pupils are working. However there were still a number of issues that need to be addressed: There was a feeling that short blocks of school experience do not give enough time for students to get to grips with teaching or to know the department and school in which they are working. Respondents also felt that these short school experience placements did not really prepare a new teacher for the demands of the induction year. A number of comments were made about universities and schools expecting student teachers to invent resources rather than use the resources already available in the schools. This was felt by respondents to place the students in an unrealistic teaching situation. The quality of school experience placements was seen to be dependent on the school and department in which the student was placed. Some placements provided an excellent experience with good support. Others provided a less positive experience. School placement visits by university staff were perceived as being inconsistent in terms of: the length of time of the visit; the nature and quality of the feedback, in other words whether the feedback was constructive (identifying areas for development and suggesting actions for the student) or destructive (criticism without next steps being identified); the expectations during the placement and subjective in terms of interpreting how the Standard for Initial Teacher Education (SITE) was applied. There were a number of comments indicating that students taught what they thought their tutor wanted to see. (v) (vi) Some mature respondents felt that Initial Teacher Education and Induction are designed to suit young teachers with limited experience of life who do not ask questions because they accept what they are told. They felt that their own knowledge and expertise of life and other careers was not acknowledged. Some of this feeling could be related to their own attitude. There were a number of references made by primary teachers about the fact that they had not had teaching experience across the 3 to 12 age range during their ITE programme. 12

11 5 Standard for Initial Teacher Education The comments respondents made in relation to how well the Standard for Initial Teacher Education (SITE) had been explained fell into two broad areas: There was a general impression that many staff working with the students were vague about SITE, what it meant and how it related to both the content of the ITE programme and placements. Information about SITE was perceived to have been disseminated in an inconsistent manner. This point links to comments made in section 4 above. There is a perceived lack of consistency in how SITE is used to assess and grade students on placements and many respondents found it difficult to find out what actions they should take to improve on their performance and achieve SITE. Perhaps there is a need to look more closely at how SITE is used within ITE programmes and whether it forms an integral part of the students experience and development. 6 Development Targets At the end of initial teacher education programmes all students receive a profile for entry into the teaching profession, commonly called a final profile. This profile, among other things, identifies areas for professional development during the Induction year. Given the importance of ensuring progression from ITE to Induction these areas for professional development are supposed to be used as the basis for discussion between the probationer teacher and mentor/supporter at the start of the Induction year. Comments made about the definition of development targets and the subsequent value of these targets were not particularly positive: The majority of respondents indicated that either: they had no recollection of any development targets being set at the end of the ITE year; and/or the development targets defined were not discussed by supporters/mentors at the beginning of the induction year and therefore they were seen to be of limited value; many respondents indicated that where development targets had been defined they were often vague. Staff in universities were vague about the SFR and requirements for the Induction year. While this situation may have been understandable for teachers embarking on the first year of the Teacher Induction Scheme in , the same comments were also made by teachers embarking on the second year of the Scheme. A number of respondents felt that not enough time was spent on target setting. Target setting seems to have been dealt with at the end of the programmes when ITE profiles were being completed but does not seem to have been incorporated throughout the programmes. Clearly the link between ITE and the continuing development of the teacher during the Induction year needs strengthened. The evidence would seem to indicate that a fresh start approach seems to be being adopted as our new teachers move from ITE into Induction. 7 Conclusions This section of the questionnaire generated a large amount of data and the analysis in this report highlights the issues raised most consistently by the respondents. 13

12 In reflecting on the issues raised a number of consistent messages emerge: School experience placements are seen as being the most valuable part of all ITE programmes; however the quality of the placements is seen as being variable. Some elements of the ITE programmes are perceived as being more appreciated and valued: all aspects of the programmes that were perceived as practical and directly useful to what was described as the task of teaching ; aspects of the programmes delivered by classroom teachers rather than Principal Teachers, Headteachers or University staff; for secondary teachers in particular, aspects of their programme that were directly related to teaching their subject(s); information and practical guidance on dealing with issues that are likely to be difficult in schools, eg: - working with pupils with learning difficulties; - discipline and behaviour management; - working with parents; - health and safety issues. Some elements of the ITE programmes are considered to be of limited value; however this may be as a result of including them at too early a stage in a teacher s development, eg: all matters concerning the education system ; professional studies or developing professional knowledge in general, although there were many respondents who commented on the need for more input on learning styles. The use of the Standard for Initial Teacher Education (SITE) within teacher education programmes, and the link between SITE and the SFR are unclear to many teachers. If continuity and progression between Initial Teacher Education and Induction is to be a reality then the nature, purpose and use of the Standards may need to be reviewed. There is a strong argument for: using one Standard to define the competences to be achieved by students and probationer teachers; the QAA benchmark statements which apply to programmes of ITE and the Standards. (v) (vi) Much of theory seems to come too soon in a teacher s development. During ITE it may be better to concentrate on practical and coping strategies and then to deal with theoretical aspects when the student/probationer teacher has sufficient experience to make the theory both relevant and meaningful. Perhaps the way to develop a reflective practitioner is to reverse our current approach in initial teacher education which is to take the theory and try to translate it into practice and focus more explicitly on providing students and probationers with sufficient quality teaching experience at an early stage of their development to enable them to understand the context in which they are working and the issues that affect them before asking them to stand back and put the practice back into the theory. Much of the university input was perceived, rightly or wrongly, as being out of date and not relevant to the current situation in schools. One of the main reasons for this was that university staff, particularly in the secondary sector, were seen as being too removed from the real world of the school; they had been away from the classroom for too long. Teachers who work in universities, either in a permanent or seconded capacity seem to lose their credibility with the students relatively quickly whereas a teacher or lecturer who is in the school context working with the students is seen to be more credible. Given the increase in the number of teachers being seconded to work with student teachers either in universities or within local authorities, careful consideration will need to be given to the most effective deployment of these staff to ensure that their involvement enhances the quality of the Initial Teacher Education phase of teachers development. 14

13 8 Recommendations Many of the issues highlighted in this paper relating to Initial Teacher Education cannot be considered in isolation from those related to the Teacher Induction Scheme and to the CPD needs of teachers in the early years of their careers. Similar issues are emerging at each stage. The following recommendations are made in this context: A review of the nature, content and structure of Initial Teacher Education programmes is undertaken with a view to determining how issues raised in section 3 of this paper can be addressed. A clearer, more focussed approach to determining the key components of professional learning to be addressed during Initial Teacher Education and similarly during the Induction year would help to ensure progression between the first two stages of a teacher s career. A review of the roles and responsibilities of all partners involved in school experience/placements be undertaken to ensure a greater consistency of approach. Consideration be given to the development of a national mentor/supporter training module for all staff involved in working with students and probation teachers. During the forthcoming review of the Standard for Initial Teacher Education and the Standard for Full Registration consideration should be given to: the Standard for Full Registration becoming the single Standard used to describe the capabilities expected of a teacher from Initial Teacher Education through Induction and into their future career to ensure continuity and progression in professional learning and development; developing a separate set of benchmark statements or guidelines to describe framework for programmes of Initial Teacher Education. (v) Council initiates a dialogue with the profession regarding the development of a new framework or model of professional learning and development recognising that the development of the reflective practitioner is grounded or founded on practice/experience to ensure that appropriate professional learning and experience are matched to the appropriate stage of a teacher s development whether that be during initial teacher education, induction or the first five years of a teacher s career. 15

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