Shaping the Transformation of Initial Teacher Education in Scotland

Submitting Institution

University of Glasgow

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Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

The mode and structure of initial teacher education (ITE) is an instrumental factor in the quality of pupil learning and educational attainment. University of Glasgow research had a direct role in re-shaping ITE by substantially influencing Teaching Scotland's Future: Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland, the government's most comprehensive and radical review of teacher education and professional learning for the last 20 years. The final government report specifically called for a `hub model' of teaching schools, similar to a model being piloted at Glasgow, to be introduced across Scotland, effecting a transformation in the way that Scotland's 49,000 teachers are initially taught and trained.

Underpinning research

The importance of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) for the quality of pupil learning outcomes has long been recognised in education policy. In a range of internationally recognised journal publications, Glasgow based researchers (Professor Ian Menter, 2004-12; Professor James Conroy, 1999-present; Dr. Moira Hulme, 2006-present) demonstrated that current models too often leave little opportunity for a sophisticated account of education as an intellectually grounded profession. To further research the implications of this phenomenon, they designed the Glasgow West Teacher Initiative: A Clinical Approach to Teacher Education (GWTEI) in collaboration with Glasgow City Council between January-June 2011. The aim of the GWTEI pilot project was to re-conceptualise partnership between teacher educators and local authorities in the re-design of teacher education programmes. The `clinical model' proposed in the GWTEI pilot, so named because it imitated models of medical training at teaching hospitals, made significant changes to the historic pattern of `placement' in ITE and training and reshaped the relationship between (University) tutor and school.

The pilot initiative sought to: (a) enhance school experience for beginning teachers, particularly the integration of theory, practice, content and pedagogy; (b) promote the professional learning of school teachers, teacher mentors and university tutors; and (c) use evaluation evidence to inform programme development and future policy choices. It aimed to do this through a pilot model of `clinical placement'. The pilot involved a schedule of learning rounds involving the university tutor, teacher mentor and two other students observing lessons conducted with a particular learning or organisational focus in mind; these rounds would then form the basis of a subsequent seminar. It also provided more opportunities for formative assessment of the student by the teacher mentor and the University tutor than had previously been allowed for in the conventional model in place at the time.

In this model of `clinical placement', University of Glasgow tutors were located in a learning community (i.e. a cluster of schools) to provide overall co-ordination and support for supervision with respect to students (n=31) pursuing the Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) who were placed in the 11 primary (18 student teachers) and two secondary schools (13 student teachers) concerned. Embedded in the day-to-day operation of the school-based programme, University of Glasgow tutors worked closely with teacher mentors in development and assessment activities over the pilot period.

In step with the implementation of the pilot programme, an evaluation of the development of the initiative and an assessment of the achievement of project goals was undertaken by the University. Evidence was drawn from analysis of pre- and post-experience questionnaires for students; observation of steering group meetings and school-embedded activities; and interviews and focus group discussions with students, teachers, school managers, local authority and University staff.

Initial findings showed that the pilot model required the cultivation of sophisticated communications given the complexity, range and dynamics of the relationships involved in the successful implementation of the model. The seminars and learning rounds raised the level and quality of professional discourse for students who were able to observe one another's work. The emerging research findings suggested that students' professional learning was enhanced by the distinctive nature of the scheme. Moreover students were able to link theory and practice in a more meaningful way than on previous placements. The development of learning rounds alongside joint assessment and school seminars played an important role in re-imagining teacher education.

As well as feeding these insights into the Scottish Government review of teacher education (see below S.4), Glasgow researchers were commissioned to undertake literature and policy analysis research to inform the review.

Review of Teacher Education in the 21st Century:

As part of the evidence-base for the Review of Teacher Education in Scotland, Glasgow researchers conducted a major review on Teacher Education in the 21 Century. The review provided a comprehensive examination of teacher education and its contribution to the quality and effectiveness of the educational experience and wider personal development of young people; drawing on effective practice in Scotland and elsewhere. The Glasgow researchers strongly recommended a much more integrated approach to teacher education across the career course of teachers, which would incorporate more developed partnerships between stakeholders, including schools and universities.

References to the research

(1) Conroy, J., M. Hulme, and I. Menter. (2013) `Developing a Clinical Model for Teacher Education', Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, published online 9 October 2013. (doi:10.1080/02607476.2013.836339).


(2) Menter, I., and Hulme, M. (2012). `Teacher education in Scotland: riding out the recession?' Educational Research, 54 (2). pp. 149-160. (doi:10.1080/00131881.2012.680040).


(3) Menter, I, and Hulme, M. (2011). `Teacher education reform in Scotland: national and global influences'. Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 37 (4). pp. 387-397. (doi:10.1080/02607476.2011.610991).


(4) Smith, I., E. Brisard, and I. Menter. (2006). `Partnership in Initial Teacher Education 1990-2005', Scottish Educational Review 3: 20-31 Link

(5) Menter, I. et al. (2010). Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century. The Scottish Government, Edinburgh, UK. Link
[Research outputs (1-4) above have been published in high impact and internationally significant journals that operate rigorous peer-review].

Details of the impact

Shaping ITE through the development of stakeholder partnerships and extension of GWTEI

Following the University of Glasgow's evaluation of the pilot `clinical model' for ITE, the GWTEI project was subsequently rolled out to schools across other parts of Glasgow and led to the involvement of the University of Strathclyde, a cluster of schools in West Dunbartonshire, and four secondaries and their associated primaries in North Lanarkshire, thus demonstrating the wide appeal of this model. Additionally, in February 2012, Irvine Royal Academy and its cluster primary schools in North Ayrshire became the University of Glasgow's official partner for implementing the `clinical model' of ITE, extending the reach of the GWTEI research project well beyond Glasgow. The project and new partnership received positive public endorsement from the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning when he officially launched the partnership at Irvine Royal Academy on 21 February 2012, commenting that: `I am confident that this truly innovative model of partnership will be of great value to pupils and teachers in the schools involved and, importantly, to the student teachers learning the profession here' [1].

Informing government review of teacher education and career-long learning

University of Glasgow research influenced and shaped the recommendations advanced in the Scottish Government's most radical review of teacher education and professional learning in Scotland for over 20 years. The Government's Review was carried out from February 2010 to December 2010, with the final report, Teaching Scotland's Future: Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland (TSF) published in January 2011 [2].

Glasgow researchers were commissioned to lead an extensive review on teacher education and this substantial evidence base lies at the heart of the TSF investigation. As well as contextualising and providing insights into the kinds of initiatives and activities that had been happening elsewhere to address system-level changes to teacher education, the Glasgow researchers also made several recommendations. Their key recommendation that a much more integrated approach to teacher education, spanning the career course of teachers and involving more developed partnerships between the stakeholders, including schools and universities, is clearly embedded in the final TSF Report.

In addition to formally acknowledging the usefulness of the University of Glasgow review in the TSF Report, the outgoing Senior Chief Inspector of Education (2002-2010) who led TSF, regarded it ` a very important piece of work which was extremely influential in helping shape my thinking and the direction of the Review' [3].

Re-Shaping ITE: The `clinical model' as a mechanism for formal stakeholder partnerships

Additionally, by engaging the Senior Chief Inspector of Education with the ongoing development of the GWTEI project, during which the researchers successfully negotiated formal partnership agreements between the University of Glasgow and local authorities, members of the GWTEI project team significantly contributed to and informed the recommendations of the TSF review. Among other things the TSF Report emphasised the role of the university in teacher education, the importance of career-long development and the signifb01cance of partnerships in learning.

The TSF Report argued that the university location of Schools of Education might be more fully exploited to reduce, `unhelpful philosophical and structural divides [that] have led to sharp separations of function amongst teachers, teacher educators and researchers' (at p.5). A view of schools as sites for `well researched innovation' by `research-aware teachers' was encouraged (at p.102). There was also a commitment to the view that `every teacher should be a teacher educator' (at p.73), which clearly resonated with the aim of the GWTEI project being undertaken at the time.

The GWTEI `clinical model' is cited in the TSF Report as a best practice example for other similar `hub school' models which the Report suggested should be developed across the whole of Scotland. The Senior Chief Inspector of Education noted that he found maintaining contact with research developments at Glasgow very useful for thinking through the approach adopted in the Report on `hub' schools, which are similar to the approach that was being researched by the University of Glasgow. The final TSF Report draws on the University of Glasgow research, where it states that:

Current experiments involving a more intensive relationship between a university and identified schools, analogous to teaching hospitals, should be pursued as possible models of practice more generally. Joint appointments between schools and universities, for example, would provide a very tangible form of partnership as a practical expression of the theory/practice relationship (at p. 7).

It also explicitly highlights the benefits of the University of Glasgow model, where it notes:

Current experiments, for example as led by Glasgow University and partners, where university teacher educators are based within a locality, may help to ensure better progression from initial teacher education into induction and beyond (at p.47).

The influence of the University of Glasgow research also extends to the formal recommendations made in the final TSF Report. ITE was one of the key areas subject to recommendations for change and improvement, of the final Report's 50 recommendations, approximately 21 related to changes to ITE; with 5 of these specifically relating to the issues identified in the researchers' evaluation of the piloted `clinical model'.

The implications of the recommendations in the TSF Report extended to teachers, school leaders, universities, local authorities, government, and professional and public bodies. The Scottish Government accepted all 50 of the recommendations advanced in the TSF Report, making it clear that all mechanisms required to implement them should be put in place. To this end, it established a National Partnership Group (NPG) to devise an Action Plan for taking forward the recommendations; the NPG reported on its Action Plan in September 2012 to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning who accepted it in full on 6 November 2012; the Scottish Government subsequently appointed a National Implementation Board and committed £3 million over a 3-year period so that the Board could successfully implement the NPG's plan [4].

The TSF Report, generally, and the GWTEI research project, in particular, received coverage in numerous media outlets including: BBC News online, the Herald, the Times Education Supplement (TES), Holyrood Magazine, and the Scotsman [5]; thus, informing public debate about the state of ITE and training and the potential implications for the quality of education in schools. Additionally, Teaching Scotland's Future was used elsewhere in the UK and Europe during the course of practitioner debate around ITE. It played an important role nationally and internationally in shaping stakeholder debate about teacher education. For example, Graham Donaldson, the former Senior Chief Inspector of Education who undertook the TSF review, used it to underpin presentations to the ATEPIE project, which advances teacher professionalism and education across the Western Balkans region, namely: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, in Sarajevo in April 2013; as the basis for a keynote presentation at the Teacher Education Advancement Network in Birmingham in May 2013; and in his presentation on Better Assessment and Evaluation to Improve Teaching and Learning, and the system-level change needed to achieve improvement in these areas, to a practitioner conference in Dublin organised as part of Ireland's EU Presidency on 19 March 2013. Conroy, from the GWTEI research team, presented the emerging findings and best practice from the research with a range of international policy-makers and practitioners (c.200) at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development's National Forum on Initial Teacher Education in Victoria, Australia on 29 May 2012 [6]. Other speakers at the Forum included: members of the Victorian Council of Deans of Education; the Victorian Minister for Higher Education and Skills and Minister responsible for the Teaching Profession; as well as the (former) Chief Adviser on School Standards at the Department for Education and Skills in the UK.

In this way, the University of Glasgow research, undertaken in the literature and policy review as well as the design and evaluation of the `clinical model', can be seen to have stimulated and influenced practitioner discussion and debate at the national and international levels.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. See BBC News Scotland article 21 Feb. 2012 on partnership launch between University of Glasgow and Irvine Royal Academy, for Cabinet Secretary's comments: Link
  2. Teaching Scotland's Future: Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland, 2011, Edinburgh: Scottish Government: Link [cited throughout the case study].
  3. (former) Senior Chief Inspector of Education who led TSF Review can attest to impact of University of Glasgow research on his recommendations: Contact details provided.
  4. For details of adoption of NPG recommendations, and subsequent Government investment: Continuing to Build Excellence in Teaching: the Scottish Government's Response to Teaching Scotland's Future, March 2011, Edinburgh: Scottish Government: Link Cabinet Secretary Response to NPG Action Plan, 6 November 2012: Link
  5. Media coverage: TES 14 January 2011; 16 March 2012; 30 November 2012; BBC News: 9 March 2011; Herald: 20 February 2012; Holyrood: 28 January 2011; Scotsman: 13 January 2011
  6. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), Victoria, Australia: National Forum on Initial Teacher Education, 29 May 2012, Conroy Presentation uploaded online by DEECD: Link