Thursday, 5 May 2011

May Education Forum

Reflections on The Importance of Teaching: is teacher-training at a turning point?

Far-reaching changes to initial teacher education and training have been proposed in the Coalition’s Education white paper The Importance of Teaching. Trainees will now have to have a 2.2 in their first degree if they wish to receive state funding and psychometric tests have even been proposed to see if trainees have ‘resilience’. Significant changes have also been proposed to the content of teacher training. The white paper seeks to develop this approach and suggests a focus on ‘key teaching skills’ - such as maintaining classroom discipline. Education Secretary Michael Gove has argued that teaching should be understood as a ‘craft’, which is ‘best learnt as an apprentice observing a master craftsman or woman.’ However, sitting uneasily with these developments, the EBacc proposals imply a greater focus on subject knowledge, which would have different implications for training.

At the same time, institutional changes are also proposed. The number of training places allocated to Teach First - which seeks to recruit academic high achievers - is to be expanded, whilst a new network of practically oriented 'Training Schools' will be developed as an alternative to university-based training pathways.

So should teacher training and education become more practically focused? Will teaching be improved by a closer focus on subject knowledge? Do teachers require knowledge about education itself? Or is educational knowledge and theory an unnecessary diversion from developing their craft practice? And is all this so different from what the previous government attempted? In short, is teacher training at a turning-point?

Monday May 16th 2011 at 7pm at the Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 3AT