With the shift in UK initial teacher training over recent years, towards schools having the central role rather than universities, it is easy to disregard how other countries are faring and whether it is as tumultuous.
But a study of how teachers are trained for secondary schools in Spain has suggested that universities should have more involvement.
That is the argument of Miguel Santos Rego, professor in the department of educational theory at the University of Santiago de Compostela, in his recent co-authored paper: “Training of secondary education teachers: thinking about the reconstruction of the university project.”
Professor Santos Rego told Times Higher Education that Spanish universities “do not take secondary teacher education in serious and solid terms”.
The reasons for this include “low sensibility” towards teacher training by senior management teams and “passivity” from policymakers. He also said that pressure from schools against change, resulting from a belief that “the most important thing to be a teacher…is to know about the subject matter, not about education and/or pedagogy”, was harmful.
He argues in his paper that teachers require pedagogic instruction and should not rely solely on subject knowledge. “[The model] creates a false identity in teachers [seeing] themselves more as experts in a concrete subject and not as teachers in the strict sense, [which] demands other skills and knowledge in a more pedagogical perspective,” he told THE.
To make teacher training more rigorous, Professor Santos Rego said there needed to be an agreement between the ministry of education, universities and Spain’s regional governments about the “practical stage of secondary teacher training”.
He said trainees should spend a minimum of “one year in a secondary school, with an effective system of tutoring and/or mentoring” and “creative links between universities and good schools” must be encouraged.
“Over the next 10 years, Europe in general and Spain in particular have to recruit thousands of teachers into their secondary schools. It is high time for universities to think about their preparation as an essential part of their social prestige as references for scientific and educational excellence,” he concludes in the paper, co-written with María del Mar Lorenzo Moledo, another academic at Santiago de Compostela.