The UCET Annual Conference 2009, with the theme New and continuing perspectives in teacher education, was held in Hinckley, Leicestershire on 9th and 10th November.
After a welcome and introduction by the UCER Chair, Roger Woods, in which he talked of the need for teacher education to continually seek improvement, the UCET annual conference 2009 opened with a keynote address by HMCI Christine Gilbert, entitled Developing Inspection. Although referring to the evaluation of the first year of the ITE cycle of Ofsted inspections in the final stages of the presentation, Gilbert spoke primarily about the outcomes of recent school inspections. She advised that "Ofsted finds behaviour isn't a problem", but there were issues regarding numeracy and literacy, which was "not shifting quickly enough", as well as ICT; interestingly, it was felt that teachers were using it more effectively in their teaching, but pupils were not using ICT effectively in their learning. Overall, there was still far too much ‘satisfactory', rather than ‘good' - or ‘outstanding' - teaching, and a need to contrast what teachers think they're doing and what is happening in the classroom. As well as ‘good teaching', what mattered was "strong partnerships, CPD, high expectations and high standards". Personalisation was key; rather surprisingly, in light of the 2020 Vision ‘Gilbert report', she maintained this was "all about knowing the child", and claimed that Ruth Kelly, when Education Secretary, had said to her that "primary do personalisation anyway"! Turning then to the 2008/9 ITE inspections, Gilbert revealed that all 14 of the primary providers had been graded good or better, with 12 of the 14 secondary and 9 out of the 10 FE providers achieving this. Areas for development included:
- Capacity to improve (in 1/3 of EBITTs inspected)
- Overall effectiveness (of 16% of EBITTs and 4/10 of the FE providers inspected)
- Providers' ability to assess performance, and plan and take action for improvement
- Linking outcomes of evaluation with improvement planning and trainees' outcomes
- "Employment-based providers do subject knowledge less well"
After lunch, Professor Robin Alexander, Director of the Cambridge Primary Review, spoke of the Review's final report, asking What now?. He started by saying that there had been three versions of the Plowden report: as written, as sanctified, as demonised. Comparing these to the responses to the Cambridge final report, he suggested that ‘off message', ‘not invented here' reports were likely to be dismissed by the authorities. The government response to the final report was revealed in a DCSF press release of 16.10.09, which was "highly critical and inaccurate", focussing on but a handful of the 75 recommendations, presented out of context. There was, therefore, a need to reclaim the text, as well as the debate. As reported on the TTRB, however, the text is no longer publicly accessible on-line, which may prove to be a barrier to this (although summaries and briefing documents are available). Nonetheless, a statement/manifesto will be produced after the final Cambridge Primary Review conference in February 2010. In the meantime, Alexander offered this from the text:
"ITE and CPD should move from models premised on compliance with received official wisdom to critical engagement, on the basis that this not only makes for better teaching, but is a minimal position from which to advance the learning, empowerment, autonomy and citizenship of the pupil".
The third keynote address of the first day, entitled New and continuing perspectives - a Vice Chancellor's view, was from Professor Les Ebdon of the University of Bedfordshire. He spoke of the inevitable reductions in public expenditure, warning that the climate in HE could be "decidedly uncomfortable" by the end of next year. The special challenges for teacher education were:
- TDA quotas
- Government requirements
- Challenging demography
- Supply side problems (STEM, MFL...)
- Poor workforce planning (by government)
- Constraints and internalisation
- Rising expectations of students, e.g. BSF (at a time of rising constraint)
He also talked of the key role of teacher education within faculties of education (our supply chain, CPD challenges), and the need to move forward on an evidence-based footing.
Amongst the variety of sessions scheduled for the first day was Role models, school improvement and the gender gap - do men bring out the best in boys and women the best in girls?, presented by Peter Tymms from Durham University. Beginning with discussion of the background to the widely-held concern for the lack of male teachers, and the drive for male role models as a way of reducing the gender gap, Tymms explored the empirical basis for this argument. Referring to studies conducted between 1995 and 2005, little evidence was found to support the notion that matching by gender (or ethnicity) affects achievement. The study recently undertaken by Tymms and Christine Merrell, Performance Indicators in Primary School (PIPS project), based on 9000 Year 6 pupils, reached similar conclusions: matching by gender had no impact on the attainment or attitudes of 11 year olds - although female teachers had children with more positive attitudes to school.
Helen Scott and Simon Asquith from the University of Cumbria presented a critical account of the development of MTL in the North West of England to date, with a view to giving other providers some insight into the positive and negative aspects of the process. Helen outlined the history of MTL, from the announcement of the Children's Plan by the Government in 2007 through to the validation of the framework in early 2009. It was agreed towards the start of the process that the role of the coach was central to MTL and that training in this area was key to its success. Consultation events took place with all relevant parties, which proved an excellent opportunity to network and discuss with colleagues.
Dr Alison Jackson presented the findings of her recent study in a session entitled The Professional Development Needs of Teacher Educators in HEIs and School-based Mentors in Schools. The full report can be found on the Teacher Educators' Storehouse page of the TEAN website (http://www.tean.ac.uk/). The aims of the study were to identify the support and CPD needs of these two under-researched professional groups, in order to inform TDA planning for 2009/10. Qualitative data were collected from surveys and focus groups, and key themes analysed. It was found that there was a lack of shared vision between teacher educators in HEIs and those in schools, which suggests the need for more opportunity and communication links between the two. CPD could also take the form of ‘Community Development'. The presentation of findings was followed by a workshop, and discussion of the implications of the study, and of TEAN.
The second day of the conference began with a keynote address by Jonathan Adams from Thomson Reuters on Analysis of RAE 2008 and prospects of REF: Evolving Research Evaluation. Arguing that the RAE had been guilty of reductionism, in attempting to measure the impact our work had had, Adams suggested that multiple and complex indicators and profiling were needed in order to discover "what lies beneath". Therefore, peer review was at the heart of REF (although Adams later stated that there was "some degree of peer review"), which was intended to support development. The easiest variable to look at was academic, whereas economic, policy, and social impact were more difficult. However, there was a need to engage, as "hoping it will go away is not an option". RAE 2008 had produced a more diverse map of research, showing a broad distribution of excellence, the problem being that research activity and performance is always skewed: average impact is no guide to the centre. Regarding REF, Adams was able to state that there will be academic impact assessment based on publications (as in the RAE), and also "for other targets"; however, what these will be remains unclear.
Andrew Pollard presented a second keynote address, entitled Principles and Pedagogic Concepts in Teacher Education: exploring some TLRP applications. This was organised under four main headings:
- A professional opportunity
There were fundamental and enduring issues regarding pedagogy, but the costs of improving teaching and learning were marginal.
- TLRP's outputs
The TLRP was committed to sharing research findings worldwide and to international collaboration. Their website included such a wealth of reports and other publications, it was difficult to know how to make sense of "all that stuff". Pollard talked of the possibilities of capacity building, of knowledge accumulation through thematic analysis.
- Making sense through pedagogic principles
Pollard talked of evidence-informed principles, affirming a holistic approach, representing cumulative evidence and experience, and supporting contextualised judgement by teachers, tutors, practitioners and policy makers. Patti Barber then explained how the Institute of Education (University of London) had based an M-level module within the primary PGCE upon the TLRP framework, as outlined in the TLRP leaflet Effective teaching and learning.
- Making sense though conceptual tools
Teacher expertise was poorly understood in our society, but the pedagogical practice of teaching was framed by curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Posing questions of what language we use, and why some words last and others don't, Pollard suggested that the concepts are to do with aims, contexts, processes and outcomes. He then introduced the TLRP/GTCs Conceptual Framework as a way of developing a professional language. Included as an attachment (below), this will be published on RTweb (www.RTweb.info/concepts) in Spring 2010, as well as a commentary based on the taxonomy, and material added under each cell.
Sessions on this day included PCE teacher educators need support too, presented by Jim Crawley from Bath Spa. This explored the findings of an ongoing action research project into the support needs of prospective, new and experienced teacher educators, which included an on-line survey with 161 respondents. During discussion, it was felt that boundary management issues for PCET teacher educators were largely to do with the HE/FE interface, resulting in particular concerns to do with creating a new professional identity. As the discussion activities ate into the time available for the presentation of findings, Crawley has since sent round backup materials for the session, which are attached below.
A session on Partnerships between HEIs and Teach First was led by Sonia Blandford. She began by providing background information about the initiative, which is the 5th largest graduate recruiter in the country with a target of 650 participants in 2010. A presentation demonstrated the Teach First ‘journey', and explained the recruitment process for the top graduates from over 40 leading Universities. The two-year Masters accredited programme aims to "develop participants' ability to widen access, raise aspirations, and improve achievement among the pupils they serve". To support the programme, Teach On is a network of leadership development and support for "Ambassadors continuing to support and engage challenging schools". Personalised guidance aims to develop the Ambassador movement with access to bespoke training opportunities, networks, mentors and partner training organisations.
Members of the content team from the TTRB, along with colleagues from eep (the educational evidence portal - http://www.eep.ac.uk/) and CERUKplus (the database of current research in education and children's services in the UK - http://www.ceruk.ac.uk/), were involved in the session Connected resources for research and practice, presented by Alison Lawson of the NFER. After an introductory presentation about the three websites, the opportunity was given to explore these on-line. Feedback was generally positive, and it was noted that participants were already aware of the TTRB, and were able to share examples of how this is particularly useful both to them and to their students. Suggestions for how these resources might be linked most effectively were also sought.
The final keynote address of the conference was from Ken Spours (Institute of Education, University of London), Creating 14-19 strongly collaborative local learning systems: the challenge for professionals. Closing remarks were from Roger Woods.
Sue Field and Rooie Thomas
Keynote 1 - Developing Inspection - HMCI Christine Gilbert, OfSTED
Keynote 2 - The Cambridge Primary Review Final Report: What Now? Professor Robin Alexander, Director of the Cambridge Primary Review
Keynote 3 - Professor Les Ebdon, Vice Chancellor University of Bedfordshire
Keynote 4 - Analysis of RAE 2008 and Prospects For REF - Jonathan Adams, Evidence, Thomson Reuters
Keynote 5 - Principles and Pedagogic Concepts in Teacher Education: exploring some TLRP applications - Andrew Pollard and Patti Barber, TLRP, Institute of Education, University of London
A1 - Des Hewett (Derby); Helen Taylor (Northumbria) and others: ‘Hearts and Minds': Developing inclusion through initial teacher education - case studies in the use of the TDA primary undergraduate SEN/disability training materials and...
A1 (2) - Glendra Read (IOE): Looking back and going forward: materials to support the teaching of pupils with SEN and/or disabilities
A4 - Sara Bubb & Peter Earley (IOE): The Staff Development Outcomes Study
A9 - Elisabeth Lazarus (Bristol): The road to self discovery? Videopapers a tool for reflection on practice
A13 - Allison Bolster (Bristol) - The use of paired placements - an answer to school recruitment problems or a valid learning experience?
B3 - Alison Jackson & Rebecca Westrup (Cumbria): The Development Needs of Teacher Educators
B8 - Alison Barton (UCLAN): Writing together: making a space to think and talk supporting the professional development of teacher educators
B8 (2) - Alison Barton (UCLAN): Writing together: making a space to think and talk supporting the professional development of teacher educators
B11 - Archie Graham & Chris Munro (Aberdeen): Developing a Combined Primary & Secondary PGDE Programme at the University of Aberdeen: A View from the Programme Team
B12 - Keith Posthlethwaite (Exeter) and Linda Haggarty (Open): From student teacher to NQT: some issues in initial teacher education and induction
C5 - Shelley Tracey (Queens): Crossing thresholds and expanding conceptual spaces: using arts-based methods to extend teachers' perceptions of literacy
C12 - Jenny Carpenter and Madelaine Lockwood (York St. John) - Developing and supporting PGCE student awareness of learning to become a teacher
D1 - Ruth Heilbronn & Liz Wright (University of London IOE): Developing articulation of critical reflection in ITE - writing at Master's level
D2 - Tony Nasta & Lynn Rogers (IOE): Impact of the LLUK/SVUK assessment regime on ITT curricula and the professional development of trainees across PCET providers in HE
D4 - Warren Kidd (UEL): Knowing me, knowing you. Using the mentor, trainee and learner 'voice' to inform reflective practice for UEL PCET provision
D5 - Nick Smith (DCSF): Update on the introduction of the new vetting and barring scheme
D6 - Paula Mountford (York) and John Trafford (Huddersfield); Minority ethnic recruitment and retention - lessons from the Teachers for the 21st Century project in Yorkshire and the Humber
D7 - Caroline Daly, Norbert Pachler and Caroline Pelletier (University of London IOE): ICT CPD for primary and secondary school teachers in England
D9 - Tim Cain (Southampton & UCET research award winner): The Southampton Music Action Research Programme
D11 - Dr Alison Jackson (Cumbria): Teaching - a Masters profession
D13 - Alison Lawson (NFER) and colleagues from eep, ttrb and CERUKplus: Connected resources for research and practice