EIS welcomes Donaldson review but highlights resource implications
Commenting on today's publication of the Donaldson Review Report "Teaching Scotland's Future", EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said: "The EIS welcomes the publication of Mr Donaldson's review of teacher education in Scotland, and is encouraged that it identifies many positives about Scottish teacher education and highlights many strengths within the Scottish teaching profession as a whole."
"The report also emphasises the importance of building on these existing strengths in order to deliver an enhanced, more cohesive system of teacher education. This should help to ensure that all teachers, no matter what stage they are at in their career, would have the opportunity to benefit from high quality educational opportunities and continuing professional development."
Mr Smith continued, "The EIS also welcomes Mr Donaldson's comments on the importance of Scotland's world-leading induction programme for new teachers, and supports his view of the need to examine ways of enhancing this still further by exploring better links between schools and Teacher Education Institutions."
"The suggestion that Initial Teacher Education and the one-year induction placement be viewed as a seamless experience is welcome. The EIS also notes the Report's concerns about the inconsistency of much of the current CPD provision for induction year teachers in many local authority areas. This is a key issue that must be addressed to ensure that all new teachers receive proper support and the opportunity to enhance their teaching practice at an early stage."
"The EIS is also encouraged by the Report's findings on the value of the Chartered Teacher Programme to the Scottish education system. It is vitally important that this world-leading programme should continue to grow, so that experienced Scottish teachers can have the opportunity to continue to develop and enhance their teaching skills throughout their careers."
"The value of the Chartered Teacher Programme to teachers, schools and pupils is extremely high and it is important that the scheme is supported."
Mr Smith went on to warn however, "It is less welcome that the Report outlines a model of local authority control over access to the Chartered Teacher programme. This would be a backwards step which would potentially rob many experienced teachers of the opportunity to enhance their skills through the Chartered Teacher scheme."
"One of the key aspects of the CT scheme has always been that it is open to all experienced classroom teachers, with those teachers meeting the vast majority of the course costs themselves."
"Altering this to a model where the local authority decides who has the opportunity to embark on the CT programme would mean that some very deserving teachers could see their chosen path blocked on political or financial grounds. This would be contrary to all the founding principles of the CT scheme, which was created to encourage and reward excellence in the teaching profession.”
"It would be fatal to the Chartered Teacher Scheme to place control over the professional aspirations of teachers in the hands of local authorities who have declared their wish to close the whole scheme down,” warned Mr Smith.
Mr Smith also warned that the Report's emphasis on creating Hub Schools for student teacher placement and induction could potentially lead to additional resources to support the induction programme being channelled to a small number of schools, with other schools struggling to meet the demands placed upon them.
"Scotland has a proud history of teaching excellence, and has one of the highest qualified and most professional teaching workforces in the world. It is important that we seek to enhance this still further, rather than just looking at ways to do it more cheaply. Creating better links between schools and teacher education institutions is a sound idea, but it must be done in the right way to enhance teacher education and professionalism.
Some of the suggestions in the report, such as training all teachers to be mentors and providing both mentors and assessors for all teacher inductees in schools, are worthy ideas but would be extremely resource hungry. With the increasing workload being placed on Scotland's dwindling number of teachers by the combined pressures of Curriculum for Excellence, rising class sizes and now potentially the teacher induction scheme and student placement, it is difficult to see where the time or the school resources are going to come from to meet these demands."
Mr Smith went on to say, "The EIS also has serious reservations about the suggestion that a 'Teach First' model should be explored in Scotland, as this could lead to a dilution of the standards of teaching expertise in our classrooms."
"Scotland's teachers must continue to be a properly trained, well-educated and highly professional workforce in order to ensure that Scotland's pupils can continue to receive the high-quality education that they deserve."
"Teaching is far too important for on-the-job training, as schools, pupils and parents have the right to expect consistent high quality teaching from dedicated professionals who have been well trained and educated in each of the many skills required in the classroom ".
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