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Prof Paterson Attacks CfE Again!

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by cochrane1964, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. cochrane1964

    cochrane1964 New commenter

    The professor of education at the University of Edinburgh discusses some of the weak spots in Scotland?s approach to teacher education, the shortcomings in Curriculum for Excellence and the significance of the view from the window of his new workplace. Interview by Elizabeth Buie Photography James Glossop

    You?ve become the University of Edinburgh?s most-quoted professor of education - why leave the School of Education for the School of Social and Political Science?

    I?ve been 17 years at Moray House and I think a change is always stimulating. The main reasons for the move are that a lot of my research is based with colleagues in George Square, so that is a reason to base myself here. The other one has to do with Donaldson. The major recommendation is that teacher education should be more firmly integrated with the rest of the university, so building bridges between the study of education and the other disciplines of the academic community is an important argument.

    Teacher education institutions face great challenges to meet the Donaldson Report?s aspirations - are they up to it?

    They have to do it in partnership with the university. The way forward is that teachers should no longer mainly be students of a faculty or school of education; they should mainly be students of some other part of the university and have a pedagogical expertise developing alongside their main substantive discipline.

    What should teacher education institutions be doing to prepare teachers?

    (Making) them think - rigorously and systematically - (and equipping them) to know the difference between opinion and evidence. That sounds rather grand, but in practice it means engaging in detail with the nature of knowledge and of evidence in a range of disciplines that are key to understanding how children develop.

    Do we set entry requirements for teaching high enough?

    No. We need to see teaching as being one of the most difficult professions in society and therefore requiring some of the best minds that society can produce, and the best training.

    What weaknesses do you see in students currently entering teacher training?

    The academic standard is not high enough. You cannot teach maths or language development without having an advanced grasp of these subjects. It?s a fiction, an illusion, to think you can teach primary maths and yourself only have the equivalent of Standard grade maths. I think you have to have university-level maths. And the typical entrant to an undergraduate teacher education course at the moment would struggle to do maths beyond Higher.

    You?ve been scathing in the past about primary teachers? subject knowledge and assessment abilities - why?

    There is good evidence, through no fault of their own, that people who go into primary teacher-education courses don?t get prepared with the necessary subject knowledge for the classroom and then don?t have adequate opportunities through CPD to develop their subject specialism. But all of that can change - it?s not set in stone.

    Do you support the principles of Curriculum for Excellence?

    Who couldn?t? But they are too general - as general and important as the vague principle of universal human rights. But it?s when you come down in practice to working out how to achieve these, or the four capacities, that you run into difficulties.

    Has it gone off the rails?

    It?s run into the sand. There are two ways in which it?s got nowhere. One is that the vagueness of the aspirations has got bogged down in the piles of web-pages of experiences and outcomes which, far from freeing teachers to experiment and develop their own courses, is far more prescriptive than anything that has ever been done before in Scotland. More depressing is the proposed exam structure. It?s more conventional than Standard grade; it?s less imaginative than some of the Advanced Higher ideas that have evolved over the past few years. It?s incredibly boring. None of the big principles of cross-disciplinary or learning how to apply knowledge to the world will, as far as I can see, be assessed.

    What needs to be done to deliver CfE for the next crop of pupils?

    Provide clear guidance which could be achieved by following through the examples of the Excellence Working Groups that reported in spring 2011. We need a better way of bringing teachers together and of structuring their CPD. We have a good working example in the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre - that structure of CPD, nationally provided, and funded by the 32 local authorities is what?s needed in all areas of the curriculum.

    What have been the main weaknesses in implementation?

    The whole thing just vanished into this plethora of bureaucracy. The key mistake was not to provide central guidance and centralised schemes that would bring teachers together with appropriate experts in industry, universities, whatever, to enable them to do it.

    At whose feet would you lay the blame?

    The entire political leadership class.

    Is the view from George Square better than the one from Moray House?

    It?s different. The advantage of being in George Square in a romantic sense is the sense of being in a place which has a direct allegiance back to the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, which is still Scotland?s major contribution to the life of the mind.

    PERSONAL PROFILE

    Born: Hamilton, 1956

    Education: Tain Royal Academy; MA,University of Aberdeen; PhD in statistics, University of Edinburgh.

    Career: Lecturer - specialised in statistics in medical epidemiology at Heriot-Watt University - researched the effects of exposure to lead on children?s development; Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, 1995-August 2012; now in the School of Social and Political Science.
     
  2. cochrane1964

    cochrane1964 New commenter

    The professor of education at the University of Edinburgh discusses some of the weak spots in Scotland?s approach to teacher education, the shortcomings in Curriculum for Excellence and the significance of the view from the window of his new workplace. Interview by Elizabeth Buie Photography James Glossop

    You?ve become the University of Edinburgh?s most-quoted professor of education - why leave the School of Education for the School of Social and Political Science?

    I?ve been 17 years at Moray House and I think a change is always stimulating. The main reasons for the move are that a lot of my research is based with colleagues in George Square, so that is a reason to base myself here. The other one has to do with Donaldson. The major recommendation is that teacher education should be more firmly integrated with the rest of the university, so building bridges between the study of education and the other disciplines of the academic community is an important argument.

    Teacher education institutions face great challenges to meet the Donaldson Report?s aspirations - are they up to it?

    They have to do it in partnership with the university. The way forward is that teachers should no longer mainly be students of a faculty or school of education; they should mainly be students of some other part of the university and have a pedagogical expertise developing alongside their main substantive discipline.

    What should teacher education institutions be doing to prepare teachers?

    (Making) them think - rigorously and systematically - (and equipping them) to know the difference between opinion and evidence. That sounds rather grand, but in practice it means engaging in detail with the nature of knowledge and of evidence in a range of disciplines that are key to understanding how children develop.

    Do we set entry requirements for teaching high enough?

    No. We need to see teaching as being one of the most difficult professions in society and therefore requiring some of the best minds that society can produce, and the best training.

    What weaknesses do you see in students currently entering teacher training?

    The academic standard is not high enough. You cannot teach maths or language development without having an advanced grasp of these subjects. It?s a fiction, an illusion, to think you can teach primary maths and yourself only have the equivalent of Standard grade maths. I think you have to have university-level maths. And the typical entrant to an undergraduate teacher education course at the moment would struggle to do maths beyond Higher.

    You?ve been scathing in the past about primary teachers? subject knowledge and assessment abilities - why?

    There is good evidence, through no fault of their own, that people who go into primary teacher-education courses don?t get prepared with the necessary subject knowledge for the classroom and then don?t have adequate opportunities through CPD to develop their subject specialism. But all of that can change - it?s not set in stone.

    Do you support the principles of Curriculum for Excellence?

    Who couldn?t? But they are too general - as general and important as the vague principle of universal human rights. But it?s when you come down in practice to working out how to achieve these, or the four capacities, that you run into difficulties.

    Has it gone off the rails?

    It?s run into the sand. There are two ways in which it?s got nowhere. One is that the vagueness of the aspirations has got bogged down in the piles of web-pages of experiences and outcomes which, far from freeing teachers to experiment and develop their own courses, is far more prescriptive than anything that has ever been done before in Scotland. More depressing is the proposed exam structure. It?s more conventional than Standard grade; it?s less imaginative than some of the Advanced Higher ideas that have evolved over the past few years. It?s incredibly boring. None of the big principles of cross-disciplinary or learning how to apply knowledge to the world will, as far as I can see, be assessed.

    What needs to be done to deliver CfE for the next crop of pupils?

    Provide clear guidance which could be achieved by following through the examples of the Excellence Working Groups that reported in spring 2011. We need a better way of bringing teachers together and of structuring their CPD. We have a good working example in the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre - that structure of CPD, nationally provided, and funded by the 32 local authorities is what?s needed in all areas of the curriculum.

    What have been the main weaknesses in implementation?

    The whole thing just vanished into this plethora of bureaucracy. The key mistake was not to provide central guidance and centralised schemes that would bring teachers together with appropriate experts in industry, universities, whatever, to enable them to do it.

    At whose feet would you lay the blame?

    The entire political leadership class.

    Is the view from George Square better than the one from Moray House?

    It?s different. The advantage of being in George Square in a romantic sense is the sense of being in a place which has a direct allegiance back to the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, which is still Scotland?s major contribution to the life of the mind.

    PERSONAL PROFILE

    Born: Hamilton, 1956

    Education: Tain Royal Academy; MA,University of Aberdeen; PhD in statistics, University of Edinburgh.

    Career: Lecturer - specialised in statistics in medical epidemiology at Heriot-Watt University - researched the effects of exposure to lead on children?s development; Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, 1995-August 2012; now in the School of Social and Political Science.
     
  3. iamspartacus79

    iamspartacus79 New commenter

    This is goldust, I'm printing this out! [​IMG]
     
  4. kibosh

    kibosh Star commenter

    Brilliant [​IMG]
     
  5. Not just in Primary...
     
  6. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Scottish Education has for quite a few years now, clearly, repressed any form of dissent or questioning of its 'policies and practices'. There were admittedly elements of this going on before the 'Scottish Government'. However, what exists now truly smacks of the 'Stalinist State'. When politicians like Jim Sillars brand the SNP 'a totalitarian and intellectually dumb party' you can see why the Education System, and CfE in particular, has got to the position it is in now. No doubt there are plenty of Scots who will vote for Independence if they see that there might be something in it for them. But the self-interested should look no further than to Scottish teachers to see what has already been taken from these dedicated and core professionals, i.e. their professional freedom and their right to speak out. In return teachers and their pupils have that 'mill-stone' round their necks for years to come - CfE. Looking back a year or 2 now it is clear that the so-called 'Learning Festivals' were little more than 'Nuremberg-style Rallies'.
     
  7. cochrane1964

    cochrane1964 New commenter

    Jeezo! Have you just started teaching? It's been like this since I started in 1987. Well known HTs with MBE's told me they were playing the game when they were PTs. They reached the top to change things...then didn't! I have been taken into offices and told to stop expressing my professional opinion during consultations asking for...professional opinion. Debating statistics with HMIE and SMT when they only have the official HMIE script has always been fun due to their lack of ability to understand them. The educational establishment - ScotGov, Universities, the EIS and LAs have always been in cahoots! TO say it has only been as bad the last few years is disingenuous..
     
  8. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Yes, but by the same logic, English Language at primary school should be delivered by subject specialists trained to university level. What is more important to learning, in general, than the ability to read, write and understand?
    How many pupils struggle with maths because they can't read, and understand, the question?
    I couldn't agree more. Although there is something to be said for the security of a single class teacher at the early stages of primary, there should be increased provision of full time, primary specialists in english, maths, science, modern foreign languages, history, geography, music, art, PE, health education and everything else the government thinks should be taught.
    All we need is a massive financial investment in schools, staffing and ITE provision.
    Again, I agree. I've never understood why some people in teaching, and elsewhere, believe you can't be an effective teacher if you go from school to university / ITE institution to teaching in a school and somehow first need to work in the 'real world' to gain 'experience'.
    Doctors, dentists and lawyers are generally recruited into professional university courses straight from school. Why should teaching be any different?
    In theory, yes, but in practice a great deal of a primary teacher's time is spent on social, health and educational issues in addition to direct teaching. For example, there are children who are not fully toilet trained, children with special needs who do not have adequate auxiliary support, children who arrive at school ill, children who are not collected at the end of the school day, children with significant behaviour issues, children who are so emotionally disturbed they probably shouldn't even be in a mainstream class.
    I'm sure there are similar, problematic pupil issues in secondary schools but the young age of the nursery and primary pupils involved does have implications for how a teacher responds to their individual needs. If only we had school janitors who worked the same hours as pupils, if only we had school nurses who visited more than a couple of hours a fortnight, if only we had full time school secretaries, clerical assistants and auxiliaries perhaps primary teachers could say, "I am professionally trained to teach - I am not employed to care for pupils' social needs" but somehow I suspect most primary teachers will find that strict separation of roles difficult in practice.
    So, provided we appoint highly qualified graduates with effective teaching skills, pay them good salaries and provide them with appropriate working conditions and pensions, our education system has the potential to be one of the best in the world.
    I can't argue with that.
     

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