Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Improving Practice in initial teacher education

Keywords: Initial Teacher Education, 21st Century, Geography, Stakeholders' perceptions, Early professional learning

Author: Ashley Reid (University of Strathclyde)

'A Curriculum for Excellence' (SEED, 2004a) and publications such as 'Better Behaviour-Better Learning' (SEED, 2001b) and 'Determined to Succeed' (SEED, 2003) strive to enable "pupils to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors." (SEED, 2004b, p.15). They signal a shift away from a traditional, knowledge-driven curriculum towards a more skill-based, flexible, creative system which highlights the importance of transferable skills. In contrast there is little evidence of change within Initial Teacher Education. The First Stage Review of ITE (2001) raised several questions with regard to the credibility of ITE staff and quality of campus based elements of ITE courses. The need for ITE providers to illustrate and promote best practice was also emphasised. An additional requirement from the review was to build upon the essential thread of CPD. 'A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century: Agreement' (2001) yielded several critical comments from students, probationers and registered teachers about the quality of ITE they had received. The Second Stage Review highlighted that ITE is only "the initial phase in a continuum of teacher education" (Scottish Executive, 2005, p. 7).

If we are to ensure that ITE prepares students for the challenges of a 21st Century school, the way teachers are trained and the extent to which they feel prepared to meet these challenges must be examined. This research is interested in assessing stakeholders' perceptions (probationers and mentors) of the value of the Geography university based element of the PGDE course in relation to their probationary year. This small-scale reflective case study employed mixed methods to analyse questionnaire and 2006 GTCS Interim Profile data gathered from 25 probationers and 19 mentors. It provides some interesting and relevant insights into key issues relating to ITE and those involved in the human services.

Early professional learning is a key area of research currently within the field of ITE. Schools their approach toprofessional development are currently undergoing considerable change. Initial Teacher Education needs to listen to the voices of stakeholders and adapt to meet the requirements of 21st Century schools.
Researchers, policy makers such as the GTCS and practitioners with an interest in education would be the intended audience.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 11.30-12.00

Venue: Ochil One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).