The importance of schools and HEIs in Initial Teacher Training: how collaboration between Canterbury Christ Church University and its partnership of schools changed trainees’ understandings of diversity
- Publisher: Unipress
The DfE’s recent teacher training strategy, ‘Training the Next Generation of Outstanding Teachers’ argues that ‘where teachers have had extensive initial training in schools, they perform better’ (DfE 2011a, pp. 13). The strategy therefore argues that ‘schools should take greater responsibility in the system’ (ibid, pp.14), a move which follows in the footsteps of three-quarters of OECD countries (Musset, 2010, pp. 38). However, the DfE’s strategy also recognises that ‘universities bring great strengths to the training of teachers’ (DfE 2011a, pp. 14). The role of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in initial teacher training (ITT) will therefore not disappear but will need to be ‘reconceptualised’ (Sachs, J. 2003). \ud Our research provides a successful model for collaboration between HEIs and schools. We show the measurable improvements to training achieved when Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) and its partnership of schools used a phased model in which we tapped into both parties’ different strengths. The HEI took responsibility for aggregating trainees’ experiences, co-ordinating a research based response and providing the space and theoretical frameworks for trainees to share, contrast and reflect on their in-school experiences. Meanwhile, schools brought an understanding of context which guided an appropriate response, provided trainees with opportunities to see theory in practice and a context for professional dialogue. In order to bring together these strengths, the HEI’s role started as that of initiator, then moved to that of facilitator and capacity builder and finally to evaluator and supporter.\ud \ud Our project was focused on a need (identified in feedback and surveys) for enhanced training on ‘teaching for diversity’. Our definition of diversity emerged from the project itself and was agreed to be: ‘the variety in pupils’ sense of self and their background including the range and differences between pupils’ personal biographies” (Menzies and Curtin, 2010, pp.1). At the end of the ITT programme, surveys and interviews suggested that trainees had developed a more sophisticated understanding of diversity and that several had changed their opinions. We explore their views on what contributed to their learning (‘the locus of learning’) and show that some, though far from all trainees were able to see significant complementarity between the contribution of the HEI and school.
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