Happy birthday! it’s been exactly a year since this blog was born. As I said, it is a quiet wee blog, it doesn’t get huge traffic but it serves its purpose to be my sounding board and reflective journal for my M. Ed studies. So I feel I should mark this occasion with, trumpets, fanfare, champagne and birthday cake. But what I am actually going to do is to finish the post I have been saving in draft form for 6 days now on the Donaldson review. So, Cat’s Eyes – consider this your birthday treat!
Graham Donaldson and his review team have recently published the report on their review on Teacher Education in Scotland, which contains a hefty 50 recommendations.
I think it’s great – there is quite a lot to get excited about, and he hasn’t been shy to set some challenges for us all. Here are some of my personal reflections form my first few readings of it:
I love the idea of school – university partnerships and “hub” schools. These schools could grow out of existing learning communitites as referenced in the report to Learning Rounds (developed and supported by the National CPD team) and other learning community actvities. Imagine a partnership in teacher learning involving university teacher-educators, experienced teachers (who will be considered as teacher educators) and beginning teachers, working together in one environment and sharing all their thinking, all the things they know. I think this could be a powerful vehicle for teacher learning at very many levels.
I love the fact that CPDFind has been recognised as a great basis to build a one – stop – shop for CPD for Scotland’s educators! So much to do, but we could be within striking distance of providing CPD experiences, endorsement and impact evaluation, focused on the learning outcomes for the young people who really matter at the end of all this CPD. Like I said – loads still to do, but much to be positive about…….He has also said that every teacher should engage in online CPD. that’s great, but also has its drawbacks……
I like the idea of a Virtual College for School Leadership (recommendation 50). It will aim to improve leadership capacity across Scotland, to co-ordinate resources, support and development and nurture distributed leadership. This could be a place where all teachers could develop their leadership capacity, from early career beginnings through the different stages of leadership on their career trajectories, sharing or recording privately their journey through a CPD record and acknowledgement of what they achieve on the way – there could be much more to this when you consider the suggested “Standard for Active Registration” but I get the feeling there is quite a lot to be thrashed out before we reach a consensus on this one. Isn’t it great that we’ve already started thinking though?
I’m not well enough informed yet to say very much on the new “Standard for Active Registration.” I know that this is a contentious issue and I need to think more deeply and speak to others in a socially constuctivist way to be able to get to grips with this. The process has started – last Saturday I had a chat with David Noble – an inspiration to me – who has thought (as always!) at a much deeper level than I on the issue of standards, and his thinking goes way beyond notions of managerialism or accountability and really focuses on what the standards are for, what drives them and why we pay attention to them.
I’m not sure about the Masters account for all teachers. The reason being that surely the possibility for all teachers to pursue studies at Master’s level already exists – if they choose to do it they already can, and will fund it themselves, as many, many have done over the years. So if no specific funding is to be made available to teachers to do this (and there is no reason for us to believe that there will be), what’s new?
I’m pleased that he has rejected the “placement only” route to achieving teacher status as is currently part of the teacher -education experiment south of the border – there is far too much to lose in disagregating from the universities, where links have been established. Yes, there is agreat deal to work on here, but it would certainly be a retrograde step for schools to go it alone in this respect.
I’m disappointed, in a very subject specialist way that he didn’t make any specific reference to the place of languages in the curriculum. To give you a bit of background, in 2001, a government comissioned report on languages in schools was published. Its official title was “Citizens of a Multi-Lingual World” but it was quickly renamed the “Mulgrew Report” as a tribute to its author. One of its recommendations (recommendation 11 to be precise) was to embed languages learning in the teacher education of all trainee teachers. For whatever reason, the teacher education institutions declined the offer to take up this recommendation. So languages, especially primary languages , are left hanging in a very unusual space. Because of the refusal ofScotland’s TEIs to absorb this as a fundamental element of teacher education, this whole area of teacher education is left to the discretion of each individual authority, who are expected by government to provide training for this process to occur with no additional funding. That’s not entirely painting an accurate picture: protected funding has been provided previously, but has been withdrawn (I think, since 2009) . Would Maths, as a curricular area, be treated in the same way? What if English as a curricular area was left to local authority discretion, and they could choose to provide training for teachers to teach it, or maybe not? And the training that was carried out wouldn’t really be verified or monitored by anyone? And if they decided not to do any training at all, no-one would ask any questions or bother terribly much because there are no national standards for achieving what you need to demonstrate to teach this particular curriculum area. Which is in fact, one of the eight curriculum areas that form part of a learner’s broad and general education, to which EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAS AN ENTITLEMENT up until the end of s3. Does anyone else care about this as much as I do? I’d love to hear from you if you do.
So, whichever way you look at it, the Donaldson Review has loads of challenges to offer us, and if the recommendations are to be acknowleged and not ignored, the prognosis is generally good, if challenging and demanding, for teacher education in Scotland.