What the resource is:
This report offers a critique of the current secondary teacher training model in England by suggesting that it should adopt a framework of teacher education based on social pedagogy, similar to that of Sweden, rather than that which the author describes as the utilitarian, competency-based training operating today. The author, James Wetz, is writing on behalf of the CfBT Education Trust, a charity providing education services for public benefit, most notably for those who are marginalised educationally, although he has published several works himself exploring how to make schools more humane places for those who appear to achieve little in the way of formal qualifications from their secondary schooling.
The aims of the resource:
The report calls for a more unified approach, such as that of Sweden, to be employed as part of a fundamental review of professional qualifications for those working in children's services. Sweden is hailed as offering a model to emulate for teacher education owing to its focus on social pedagogy, which is based on an ethos of social support as well as education for those working in the children's and care sector. Although the Every Child Matters agenda in England was intended to provide 'wrap around care' for children, the author suggests that the training models are far from joined up theoretically in this country in 2010.
Key findings or focus:
The main proposition of the report is that secondary teacher training does not permit a broader curriculum encompassing psychological development and attachment theory. By focusing on Standards demanding the acquisition of sets of competencies which are functional and subject specific in nature, and which are taught within a very tight time-frame, developmental psychology is squeezed out of the teacher education curriculum. The author argues that this training model does not prepare teachers to work as effectively with all pupils as they could in the current complex and socially divided world.
Based on his assessment of current research demonstrating quite clearly the emergence of a new underclass, the author proposes that a new theoretical framework for teacher education is required to permit a move away from a reductionist model, towards courses that develop understanding of learning and attachment theory such as that of Bowlby. Wetz suggests that the issues of safeguarding and emotional instability, owing to urban deprivation and social fragmentation, mean that many children are anxious and unable to learn. Whilst acknowledging the criticism of the 'teacher as therapist' perspective, the author argues for a deeper understanding of children's development in the teaching profession, which historically has reflected vocational elements, rather than the ‘technical' view of teaching held by those making policy.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
The report utilises two forms of evidence to support the argument for fundamental reform of teacher education; documentary evidence from recent research and testimony from two expert witnesses (a child psychotherapist and child psychologist). The justification for reform is based on robust and recent research about the social divide which is in the public domain. This research draws attention to an alarming trend for social fragmentation and educational disadvantage with which those involved in urban teacher education will be very familiar. The use of the expert witnesses is interesting. Their view as child psychotherapists/psychologists is that attachment theory can offer a central tenet around which teacher education can be based in order to offer children a secure platform from which to learn.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact:
For those who prefer the term ‘teacher education' rather than that of ‘training', this report makes for an interesting read. Whilst many of the arguments for greater depth and more time will be familiar to those working in teacher education for some time, it does no harm to refresh one's enthusiasm and commitment for change. I would endorse this as a useful read for any tutor or mentor, to engage them in a debate about teacher education as we move into a new political era.
The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
This report could introduce ITE students to the notion that current training models might be contentious. Social and emotional development form a small part of the initial teacher education curriculum, especially in secondary, where the focus has been on subject-focused pedagogy. If trainees/student teachers are invited to reflect on the nature of their own training/teacher education, it may promote a desire to reflect on the nature of the school curriculum also, hence developing their professional autonomy.
Dr Anne Bore