Listen, learn a thing or two

May 10, 2012

The Commons Education Committee states that "a diminution of universities' role in teacher training could bring considerable demerits". It also questions the use of degree class as the determinant of bursary eligibility for primary school teachers and confirms that there is a lack of research into the qualities required to make effective teachers. Of course, this is not what the Department for Education wants to hear, but it is key to the future of the teaching profession and the role universities should play in it. It also calls into question the government's drive to switch student numbers from universities to schools.

The coalition needs to take stock. There is room for universities to be innovative and to build on the partnerships that they have already developed with schools and colleges.

For their part, MPs also make some interesting and timely recommendations about the need for a continuous professional development career structure for teachers similar to that in other countries. However, we already know that ministers think CPD (including master's) should be led by schools.

Rather than repeating policies that have been called into questions by MPs, ministers need to make clear that the future direction of travel in teacher education will be coherent and recognise the crucial role universities play when allocating student numbers. Listening, learning and reflection as well as subject knowledge are important competencies for teachers: ministers would do well to consider how they might assist them, too.

Pam Tatlow, Chief executive, Million+

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