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Major international HE conference considers impact of the digital revolution

A major international conference considered the digital revolution and its transformation of higher education, society, and the way technology affects the creation and use of knowledge.

Rule out variable fees and minimum entry requirements, says new report

The government should rule out variable fees and restricting university access for lower grade students, according to a new report.

UK universities' fundraising success helps sooth financial uncertainty

Fundraising added more than £1 billion to the coffers of universities in the UK and Ireland last year, new research shows. Sue Cunningham, President and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) argues that the findings point to the growing importance of philanthropy for the future health and vitality of the sector.

Conceptions of what is excellent in higher education are starting to change

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, outlines strategies adopted by NTU that are boosting social mobility and which helped it win the inaugural Guardian University of the Year award, a gong he believes shows how notions of excellence in HE are changing.

HEi-think: White Paper serves up "under-done" teacher training plans

New plans for teacher training contained in the Education White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere have some merit, but need further development: preferably with the help of the university sector, argues James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers.

 

From a teacher education perspective, the Education White Paper 'Educational Excellence Everywhere' was a bit of an under-done Curate's egg; good in parts but not yet fully boiled. The Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) and the university sector hope to help bring it to the boil over the next few months.

The good news is that at least some ITE providers will receive an allocation of places that will allow them to plan the number of new teachers they will be expected to train to meet the needs of schools in their areas and beyond. That will help avoid some of the catastrophic scenes experienced this year, where a rigged system of recruitment controls led to a rush to recruit, and the perverse spectacle of prospective teachers arriving for interviews only to be turned away at the door. The one concern that we have is whether this stability will apply to all providers, or only to the favoured few.

Replacing QTS with a longer process under which teachers only receive full recognition after a period in the classroom is also a potentially good idea. For it to work, however, new teachers will need access to structured early professional development that builds on and complements their initial training, and which allows time out of school to maintain links with their ITE providers and to reflect alongside their peers. Without this, the new system could in practice turn out to be little changed from the one that we currently have, which would mean another missed opportunity.

There are some very welcome references in the White Paper to the importance of CPD and to research, something that has been overlooked for far too long. We hope that this long overdue recognition will extend to Master's level CPD, which is proven to have a positive impact on both retention and the performance of teachers in the classroom. It may be too much to hope for now, but maybe we will start to move again towards a Master's qualified teaching profession. That really would improve the status of teaching, as well as incentivising high calibre new recruits.

There continues, unfortunately, to be an assumption that 'school-led' training (whatever that actually is) is somehow superior to the more traditional school-university partnerships. There is of course no evidence for this.  All routes into teaching make a valuable contribution and all should be allowed to flourish on an equal footing. That is why it is disappointing that the only new ITE providers that will be accredited are SCITTs, despite the role that university partnerships could fill and despite the fact that universities are, on average, much better at filling places.

Finally, there are the proposals to establish new university centres of excellence. This idea has potential and is very interesting. Although a lot will, as with the rest of the White paper, depend on the detail.

 

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