|The MUSTER Synthesis Report - Researching Teacher Education: New Perspectives on Practice, Performance and Policy (CIE, 2003, 237 p.)|
The last scenario has explored some of the more radical options available that would challenge current practice and can provide an agenda for reform. In conclusion several possibilities stand out that could make real differences. These include:
· More strategic use could be made of untrained teachers supported by orientation programmes and school-based apprenticeship-like relationships (on-the-job training). If this process was managed effectively it could become a step on a pathway to initial qualification. The experience of working as a teaching assistant would discourage some, reinforce the aspirations of others, and allow the unsuitable to be selected out.
· Initial training could be organised in a more modularised way to allow training to be acquired as and when needed. Investment in skill and competency would be cumulative and could take place through a variety of routes (full-time, part-time, day release, residential, distance etc) and in a variety of locations (in school, at teacher centres, in colleges and universities). It would have to be linked to a progressive career structure that regulated promotion to different grades to experience, qualification level and competence. The important difference is that it would not be a single-shot qualification process but a continuous pathway leading to higher levels of competence.
· A staircase of training linked to posts of responsibility and rewards offers the opportunity to embed the training process more firmly in the school and the learning needs of its pupils. So also might the modularisation of the training curriculum. It would make it possible for more training to take place in closer proximity to professional practice both in space and time. It might allow possibilities for schools (and colleges) to acquire some of the attributes of learning institutions. It could obviate the need for special induction and support of NQTs if a seamless web of Continuing Professional Development began to develop which could include the induction of NQTs.
· Teacher educators at all levels, whether school or college based, need to have induction and continuing professional development. This should ensure that they are aware of recent developments, can judge whether these should be incorporated into training, have perspectives that run beyond their direct experience, and have a rich range of material to draw on to support and stimulate trainee teachers.
· Colleges could then move away from being monotechnic institutions focused purely on residential long course qualifications, towards becoming dynamically integrated nodes of innovation, professional development activity, and advisory support. They could be challenged locally and nationally to make a real difference to learning in schools and the development of the human potential of the populations they serve.
Whether these kinds of proposals are feasible or desirable is necessarily a question for different systems to address. It may be that incremental changes based on the kind of evidence that MUSTER has accumulated are both more attractive and more likely to gain political support. The teacher education systems MUSTER has undertaken research on are 'not broken but they do need fixing'. If teacher educators are to retain public support for their activities, if EFA and MDG targets are to be realised, and if new approaches to learning and teaching which have developmental significance are to be adopted, then all the options should be aired and considered judgements made about which will make a real difference to the next generations of learners and teachers.