Review of the Initial Teacher Education Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. Overview of. International Trends in Teacher Education

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1 Review of the Initial Teacher Education Infrastructure in Northern Ireland Overview of International Trends in Teacher Education

2 Contents 1. Executive Summary 3 2. Introduction 4 3. Current International Trends in Initial Teacher Education and Emerging Themes 5 4. Next steps Annex A Annex B 17 2

3 Executive Summary 1. The starting point for the Review is the Panel s analysis of the current developments in the field of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) from an international perspective. This will provide a context for reviewing the current structure of ITE in Northern Ireland, for making recommendations for the further development of ITE, for sharpening the vision for the future, and for outlining the conditions for a teacher education structure that best fits the needs of the people of Northern Ireland. 2. The analysis will facilitate the Panel s interaction with the ITE sector and is summarised by a series of emerging issues internationally. These are: ensuring that ITE programmes attract the best and most suitable candidates; offering academic awards that are competitive, practice-focused and built on relevant educational research; developing strong links between theory and practice, in a way that helps students to understand and explore the interconnectedness of educational theories and classroom practices; establishing strong links between ITE and continuing professional development of teachers in schools; and ensuring that all of the above principles are underpinned by a clear understanding of evidence about how student teachers learn to teach. 3. Drawing on these issues, this overview paper aims to help both the providers of ITE and the Panel to think more holistically about how the structure of ITE and the enhancement of teacher education in Northern Ireland are interconnected. 4. This document lays out the context in which the Panel is conducting the Review and offers a specific framework for developing the structure of ITE in Northern Ireland through four themes. These themes are explored in more detail at Page 12. The Panel plans to discuss these themes, along with the issues raised in the submissions to the Review, with ITE providers and stakeholders. 5. The Review Panel recognises that some of the themes and issues identified in this paper relate to ITE provision and content which, as areas of responsibility, fall to the Department of Education. These are, however, provided here as context for this Review and will not form part of the recommendations in the final report. 6. As a final stage in the Review, the Panel will produce a paper which takes account of the international literature, the views of institutions and other stakeholders, and Panel Members own deliberations, and which will set out for the Minister options for the future shape of initial teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. 3

4 1 Introduction 1.1 In November 2011, the Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, announced a two-stage study of the teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. 1.2 The first part of the study considered the costs and affordability of the current ITE system as compared to benchmark provision elsewhere; outlined the rationale for the various funding streams; and forecast the degree to which the institutions in Northern Ireland are sustainable into the future. The work on stage one was completed earlier last year and the consultants report was published in May This second stage of the study will examine the case for the reform of teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland and set out options for a more shared and integrated system for the delivery and funding of teacher education. The Terms of Reference for Stage Two are attached at Annex A. Purpose of the overview paper 1.4 The starting point for this stage of the Review is the Panel s analysis of current developments in the field of ITE and what can be concluded from often very different ITE systems and structures around the world. Based on both research literature and panel members international experience, this analysis is intended to inform the Panel s consideration of options for the structure of initial teacher education in Northern Ireland whilst also recognising the unique features of the particular context of teacher education in Northern Ireland. 1.5 The Panel considered international research and current policy issues on initial teacher education in order to construct the framework for this Review. Among the teacher education models considered were the four jurisdictions of the United Kingdom (UK), the Republic of Ireland, the USA, and examples from some of the most successful international education systems such as Finland, Singapore and Switzerland. 1.6 The Panel also draws from supra-national teacher education policies of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 1.7 This analysis is summarised by a series of issues and emerging themes which will provide the context for discussing the current ITE structure in Northern Ireland. It will also provide the basis for the consideration of an appropriate vision for teacher education in Northern Ireland and how that vision might inform the further development of the ITE structures in a way that meets the needs of learners, of schools, of the economy, and of the community as a whole. 4

5 2 Current International Trends in Initial Teacher Education and Emerging Themes 2.1 There is a widespread international consensus that, if they are to flourish, if they are to strengthen their economic productivity, and if they are to ensure that all their citizens lead satisfying personal lives, modern societies need, through their educational systems, to cultivate the skills and capabilities of all, so that all can achieve their best potential. That same consensus affirms that the quality of teaching is the most crucial school factor in raising the level of pupil achievement and furthering their educational progress. 2.2 It is therefore clearly vital that communities need to have in place robust ways of selecting students to teacher education, of having teacher education programmes that are academically relevant with a systematic focus on clinical practice, and of supporting teachers professionally throughout their careers. 2.3 To this end, both OECD and the EU have been devoting increased policy attention, over recent years, to the teaching profession and to teacher education. International influences on education policy have become increasingly evident. It has become commonplace for countries to assess the quality of their teacher education provision against international trends and models, thus allowing research increasingly to have an impact on policy and practice in teacher education The acknowledged importance of teacher education and continuing professional development to the creation of a successful and effective education system also prompted a recent inquiry by the British Educational Research Association 3 (BERA) and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), into the relationship between educational research and the nature of teacher education provision. 2.5 This inquiry has provided a range of research papers relevant to this Review and reference to them is made throughout this analysis. These research papers form part of the considerable volume of research reports on teacher education that will feature in the discussions between the Review Panel and the teacher education institutions in Northern Ireland. 2.6 The Panel s review of the international literature on initial teacher education has identified five issues. These are: ensuring that ITE programmes meet the needs of future teachers in Northern Ireland and that they thereby attract the best and most suitable candidates to be trained to be teachers; offering academic awards that are competitive, practice-focused and built on relevant educational research; 5

6 developing strong links between theory and practice, in a way that helps students to understand and explore the interconnectedness of educational theories and classroom practices; establishing strong links between ITE and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of teachers in schools; and ensuring that all of the above principles are underpinned by a clear understanding of evidence about how student teachers learn to teach. 2.7 The Review Panel recognises that these themes tie in with ITE provision and content which, as areas of responsibility, fall to the Department of Education. They are provided here, however, as context for this Review and need to be taken into account in order to inform consideration of any future ITE structures. These themes are explored in more detail below. 6

7 Issue 1: Teacher education should attract the best and most suitable candidates. a) There is international agreement 4 that teaching is such a crucial and demanding professional activity that it ought to seek to recruit to its ranks those who demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and who possess those pronounced academic and social skills necessary to become successful and effective teachers. b) Concurrent programmes, for example, Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees, need to be attracting an appropriate share of able school leavers, and consecutive programmes such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) should recruit a significant share of the most able graduates with the depth of knowledge and the range of skills that are so essential in the teaching profession. Having recruited highly able students, universities and the schools, working in partnership, need to stretch their students both academically and professionally. c) Those who teach, in either the primary phase or the secondary phase, need to be able to operate from a secure academic base in the subject(s) they teach, and need to engage in professional studies and activities that are intellectually, socially and professionally demanding. d) Good teacher education requires candidates who are strong academically and who also have the appropriate combination of interpersonal skills, the commitment and the drive which the teaching profession requires. That is, whilst academic ability is a necessary condition for admission to a teacher education programme, it is not in itself a sufficient criterion for selection. Issue 2: Teacher education should be based on academic degrees that are competitive vis-à-vis other academic fields of study, practicefocused and built on relevant educational research a) It is widely acknowledged that teacher education programmes incorporate three key elements foundation studies, professional studies and practical training through school placement or clinical teacher training schools. i. Foundation studies provide the theoretical underpinnings of teaching, equipping the beginning teacher with a framework of reference, drawing on insights from fields such as educational psychology and sociology. ii. Professional studies focus on curriculum, pedagogical and assessment processes which relate directly to the practical engagement with learners and the planning of how their educational progress is to be secured. 7

8 iii. School placement or clinical teaching practice in specific teacher training schools incorporates the observation of teaching, the practice and analysis of teaching under mentoring and supervision, as well as a wide range of school-based experiences which induct the beginning teacher into the culture of schooling and the values of the teaching profession. b) The international evidence 5 indicates that in high quality teacher education programmes each element benefits from the infusion of relevant research. It is therefore incumbent on teacher education staff to be pro-actively involved in the conduct of educational research and be skilled in applying such research, and that of their peers, to enrich course content. The promotion of educational research forms a dynamic component of the culture and practice of teacher education institutions. c) The duration and level at which teacher education courses are offered are also relevant. There is a growing international trend, especially among the most successful education systems, to offer initial teacher education programmes at master s level in research-led universities. d) This mode of professional preparation is linked to a course duration which allows student teachers, as well as appropriating research findings, to engage with research training and to conduct research projects linked to their pedagogy or to aspects of their school-based experience. e) This orientation to, and experience of educational research, provide a foundation for an enquiry-focussed approach in CPD; it facilitates the emergence of teachers as reflective practitioners; and it nurtures and reinforces the ideal of teachers as researchers of their own practice, committed to systematic self-study. f) Both concurrent and consecutive models of teacher education programmes are endorsed by international agencies such as the OECD and the EU. Whichever mode is employed, international developments highlight the value of a wide range of teaching-learning approaches. To that end, formal lectures are supplemented by small group sessions such as seminars, tutorials, workgroups, paired-learning, micro-teaching and problem-solving groups. In addition, training and facilitation in the use of a repertoire of information and communication technologies are essential to the equipping of student teachers for the modern classroom. 8

9 Issue 3: Develop strong links between theory and practice, in a way that helps students to understand and explore the interconnectedness of educational theories and classroom practices. a) Prominence is given to the inclusion in all teacher education programmes of school experience, or placement, or clinical practice, as an acknowledgement that learning to teach requires sustained spells of school-based work under the supervision of accomplished, experienced teachers. In the course of this experience trainees observe and analyse their own and other people s teaching, undertake progressively more demanding teaching episodes with learners, and begin to come to terms with the way of life of schools. b) The importance of school experience has implications for which schools are involved in the provision of school experience and the numbers of students placed in such schools. There is strong evidence 6 that placing larger numbers of student teachers in a smaller number of schools is the key to developing effective placement opportunities. c) There is a range of different ways in which that can be achieved in order to develop what has been called research informed clinical practice. One model is that the ITE institutions work in close partnership with chosen schools to ensure that they become places for clinical teaching practice similar to teaching hospitals that are part of faculties of medicine in many countries. d) The quality of university-school partnership is strengthened by invoking the idea of schools as centres of professional learning, where teachers collaborate in curriculum development, student assessment and school improvement, and where the principle of schools as self-evaluating institutions is taken seriously, and where, as a consequence, the notion of the teacher as researcher is continuously reinforced. e) The challenge is to secure the proper co-ordination of the two inter-related strands: university-based and school-based. It is for this reason that the practice has developed of coupling teacher education with the term universityschool partnership. Issue 4: Establish strong links between ITE and continuing professional development of teachers in schools a) There is evidence internationally 7 that, however effective initial teacher education may be, it is in itself insufficient: structures are also needed to ensure newly qualified teachers are well supported during their induction year and indeed throughout their careers. Effective programmes of initial teacher education can be set at nought if they are not built upon in ways that take teachers professional understanding and skill further forward in a structured way, well beyond the point of induction. 9

10 b) In order to serve the complex set of needs of teachers in schools, the ITE institutions must be actively engaged in research and development work in teacher education, other human sciences, educational technologies and global education policies, and must be able to take full account of international trends in these fields. c) School improvement is increasingly focusing on developing whole-school practices and fostering schools as learning institutions rather than concentrating on individual teachers or teaching on its own. CPD for teachers therefore requires that teacher education institutions have more holistic and systemic repertoires of knowledge and solutions to be offered to teachers and school leaders. Issue 5: Ensure that all of the above principles are underpinned by a clear understanding of evidence about how student teachers learn to teach a) There is extensive research evidence 8 on how student teachers learn to teach. For example: how they often need to re-learn what they think they know about teaching and learning from their own very particular school experience; the difficulties they have in learning to see how effective teachers actually teach (what often looks simply like common sense); the importance of experimenting firstly within a safe environment. There are also important decisions to be made as to how the different elements of the programme link together. Again there is evidence 9 that the most effective teacher education programmes are based on clear understandings of student teacher learning and are themselves the focus of ongoing research and development. Developments of teacher education within the United Kingdom and Ireland 2.8 Developments across the four nations of the UK reveal a diverse picture in relation to international best practice 10. In England and Wales there has, for many years, been a strong emphasis on placing school-based experience at the heart of ITE programmes with the consequence that the contribution of universities has lessened. This practice-oriented approach has been particularly strong in England 11 with many new teachers entering the profession through a variety of employment-based routes. 2.9 The current development in England of the School Direct model of teacher education, where schools themselves take responsibility of training, buying what support from universities they see fit, further extends this practiceoriented model and potentially undermines the contribution of universities even further. 10

11 2.10 By contrast, Scotland and Northern Ireland have maintained a strong role for their universities. However, while in both countries schools have contributed substantially to the professional education of teachers, it is acknowledged that there is still scope for the further strengthening of university/school partnerships, with the aim of securing the closer integration of research and professional practice. Therefore, national practice in all four countries requires further development if it is to match the very best models of teacher education identified in the international literature In the Republic of Ireland 12, ITE programmes have been extended in duration and are being restructured along best practice lines. Government policy has decreed that closer collaboration or integration should take place between colleges of education and the universities. Teacher education, as a continuum, is now officially established with many courses leading to formal qualifications. The emphasis is on reflective practice and research underpins all features of the continuum. Framework for reviewing the structure of initial teacher education in Northern Ireland 2.12 Development trends in teacher education internationally offer one possible perspective to analyse teacher education systems in any country. In addition to the developments of teacher education within the UK and Ireland it is necessary to look at some other systems as well Singapore, which is often mentioned as a model when it comes to modern structures of teacher education, has one national institute of education that educates all teachers and school principals in the country. That same institute also has a key role in teacher professional development and school improvement Finland has one unified teacher education programme that is offered by eight research universities with similar rigour and length leading to a master s degree Switzerland had a comprehensive reform of teacher education in the 1990s that led to the establishment of universities of teacher education. Since then, teacher education for all educational levels has been provided by tertiary level A institutions. There are 14 officially independent cantonal universities of teacher education, four teacher training institutions integrated into other types of higher education institutions, and two associated federal higher education institutions. At the national level these ITEs are governed by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education. 11

12 2.16 Although ITE systems and structures vary significantly from one education system to another, there are common trends in teacher education internationally that cut across many or most of these systems The following framework identifies themes that are based on the issues discussed above and also sets some guiding questions which are focused in particular on how ITE structures in Northern Ireland could be designed to reflect these international trends in teacher education. Key Themes 2.18 Theme 1: Teacher education is becoming increasingly upgraded in terms of its academic nature. Initial teacher education, especially primary school teacher education, has been traditionally offered in teachers colleges or other non-university institutions. In the Nordic countries, Switzerland and in the South-East European countries, these teacher training institutions were often scattered around the country. Since the 1990s there has been a clear movement to merge teacher training colleges into universities and at the same time raise the academic requirements of degrees for teachers. Master s degree level primary school teacher education programmes are not yet very common internationally (Finland, France and Estonia are examples of these) but many countries (Norway and Sweden for example) are planning to upgrade all teacher education to master s level degrees. Guiding questions: What is an appropriate level of academic education that different types of teachers in Northern Ireland need in the future? How would an attractive and competitive academic teacher education programme look like? What institutional conditions would these require? 2.19 Theme 2: ITE is becoming research-based. Although there are education systems that offer advanced academic degrees for teachers, they are not research-based in the same way as, for example, degrees for medical doctors or scientists. To be research-based teacher education must be built on and supported by scientific knowledge and be focused on thinking processes and cognitive skills needed to design and conduct educational research. To that end, teacher education institutions require to sustain a strong research culture and orientation, with funding to maintain a sufficient level of academic research activity. Guiding questions: What do teachers in the future need to know and be able to do with educational research? What do more researchbased teacher education programmes look like? What does this mean for how teacher education is structured? 12

13 2.20 Theme 3: ITE is becoming increasingly comprehensive, ranging from early childhood development to the continuing professional development of teachers. There has been a notable trend to bring different levels of teacher education closer to one another. Early childhood teachers and primary school teachers are increasingly educated within the same institution and also subject teacher education and primary teacher education are nowadays frequently arranged by the same department. There are clear benefits, both educational and economic, in these more comprehensive teacher education systems. Moreover, the drive to bring research closer to initial teacher education has also increased the interest in placing all teachers initial education in one institute. Guiding questions: What are the pros and cons of having all types of teacher education programmes provided by the same institution? How can a seamless continuum between different levels of teacher education in terms of knowledge and skills of teachers be ensured? 2.21 Theme 4: Internationalisation is becoming a sign of a world-class higher education institution. Internationalisation is one of the key aspects of contemporary European higher education policy. A European level goal is that one in five university graduates by 2020 should have an international education component in their degree. A similar outcome is included in the Northern Ireland Higher Education Strategy Graduating to Success. International exchange of faculty and collaboration in research projects with other countries are indicators of internationalisation. Active participation in EU mobility programmes is often a sign of active development of higher education. The two-way mobility and cooperation are often valuable and enrich teacher education. Summary Guiding questions: How could the teacher education sector best achieve the national and regional goals for international student and staff mobility? What does internationalisation require from teacher education providers? What does it mean for the institutional structure? 2.22 The Review Panel recognises that evidence from international case-studies needs to be read while fully recognising that individual jurisdictions vary significantly in their social, political and economic contexts. It is clear that such contextual differences will have an important effect on policy priorities and the range of possible options for change Also of considerable significance for the purposes of this Review is the unique blend of institutional traditions and culture which have shaped the evolution of educational priorities and practice in a particular country. In Northern Ireland, for example, its particular political and religious history provides a unique setting against which current international best practice in teacher education must be interpreted. The separation of ITE responsibilities across two Government Departments and the Review s focus solely on structural change also needs to be taken into account. 13

14 2.24 The Panel recognises that these context-specific factors will strongly influence the priorities that guide any proposals for change that result from this Review, as they will any subsequent process of implementation. 14

15 3 Next steps 3.1 In order to also inform the next stage involving engagement with the sector, ITE providers and other interested stakeholders were invited to submit opinion papers on the following: Whether, in addition to those referred to in the previous section, there are other international developments in the field of ITE that are considered to be relevant to Northern Ireland; how current ITE structures here compare with the trends in ITE best practice internationally; how ITE delivery might be structured to support delivery of international best practice, for example, in linking research to teacher education; whether there is anything distinctive about the way ITE is delivered in Northern Ireland that needs to be taken into account in this review; and whether there are any other ITE infrastructure issues that should be identified as needing particular attention within the Review. 3.2 Over 100 submissions have been received and the Panel will take account of the issues raised in these submissions. The Panel will also meet with the ITE providers and a number of other interested stakeholders with a view to learning about how the structure today corresponds with the four themes presented in this overview paper. 3.3 As a final stage in the Review, the Panel will produce a paper which takes account of the international literature, the views of institutions and other stakeholders, and Panel Members own deliberations, and which will set out for the Minister options for the future shape of initial teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. 15

16 Assignment Terms of Reference Annex A 1. This assignment focuses on the need to examine the case for the reform of teacher education provision in Northern Ireland and whether the funding being provided could be used better by the teacher training institutions if they were prepared to move towards a more shared or integrated system. 2. An expert panel of international standing in the field of higher education has been appointed to conduct this review. A summary of the work expected of the panel is shown below. 3. The panel will: a. Provide an overview of the most current developments in the field of initial teacher education provision which represents best practice internationally b. Compare what is considered best international practice with the current provision in Northern Ireland. This will be done by: inviting each of the ITE providers and other stakeholders to put forward papers outlining its vision of the structures necessary to create a worldclass system of initial teacher education in Northern Ireland which also enhances and improves sharing and integration within the sector; and conducting a series of in-depth interviews with each of the five ITE providers and relevant stakeholders. c. Produce a paper which builds upon the ITE Stage 1 study and which draws on the views of the ITE providers and the stakeholders. This would involve an examination of the options/visions put forward by providers/stakeholders, critically assessed against international best practice as outlined above. d. Following engagement with ITE providers and stakeholders, produce a final report on the work carried out and set out for the Minister options for the future shape of initial teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. 4. At the outset of the assignment, the panel will prepare an assignment action plan setting out the major elements of the work to be undertaken and to agree deadlines for their delivery. Outcome 5. The final output from this assignment will be a report setting out for the Minister options for the future shape of initial teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. This will allow the Department to enter into further dialogue with the various institutions, with the intention of finding an agreed way forward. Support 6. Policy advice and administrative support will be provided by staff from the Department s Higher Education Division. 16

17 REFERENCES 1 Grant Thornton (2013) DEL - Study of Teacher Education Infrastructure in Northern Ireland 2 Coolahan. J. (2013): Towards a New Era for Teacher Education and the Engagement of the Teaching Profession, Irish Teachers Journal (INTO), vol 1, No. 1, pp BERA-RSA (2014) The Role of Research in Teacher Education: Reviewing the Evidence, Interim Report of the BERA-RSA Inquiry. 4 Furlong, J (2013) Education: an anatomy of the discipline. London: Routledge 5 British Educational Research Association BERA (2013): Research and Teacher Education: the BERA Inquiry: Inquiry Paper 2: International Overview: the Contribution of Research to High-Performing Systems. (Maria Teresa Tatto) 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid.3 8 Ibid.3 9 Ibid.3 10 British Educational Research Association BERA (2013): Research and Teacher Education: the BERA Inquiry: Inquiry Paper 1: Policy and Practice within the United Kingdom (Gary Beauchamp, Linda Clarke, Moira Hulme, Jean Murray) 11 Ibid 12 Coolahan. J. (2013): Towards a New Era for Teacher Education and the Engagement of the Teaching Profession, Irish Teachers Journal (INTO), vol 1, No. 1, pp

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