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close this bookInitial Primary Teacher Education in Lesotho (CIE, 2002, 142 p.)
close this folderChapter 5: The Impact of Training: College and School Experiences
View the document5.1 Introduction
View the document5.2 Profile of the samples of newly qualified teachers and exiting student teachers
View the document5.3 Views about aspects of the teacher education programme
View the document5.4 Transition into teaching
View the document5.5 Newly qualified teachers in practice
View the document5.6 Attitudes and perceptions
View the document5.7 Emergence of a new role identity
View the document5.8 How they are perceived by stakeholders
View the document5.9 Concluding discussion

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents findings on the impact of teacher training on newly qualified teachers. This issue has not been given due attention in the past since there is no formal mechanism for following up the College graduates after they join the teaching force. The chapter addresses the following questions:

· How do the College graduates perceive and value their training in retrospect?
· How do they experience the transition into teaching, and what kinds of support do they get?
· How has the NTTC training affected the way its graduates teach?
· How have their perceptions of themselves and that of the profession changed?
· How are they perceived by the stakeholders' community?

Unlike in previous chapters the findings here refer to graduates of the Primary Teacher Certificate programme rather than to that of the DEP. They are based on a variety of data sources, including the surveys administered to the exiting PTC cohort and to NQTs who had mostly left the College some 3 - 4 years earlier. For triangulation purposes, a small group of NQTs was observed teaching, and their principals were interviewed along with three untrained teachers working in the same schools. Another small group of principals and District Resource Teachers, who were enrolled in the NUL B.Ed primary programme and who had NQTs in their schools, were asked to fill up a short questionnaire.

It is difficult to evaluate accurately the effects of teacher training on practice, and these results, based as they are on small samples, are presented as tentative until further studies can be carried out.

5.2 Profile of the samples of newly qualified teachers and exiting student teachers

5.2.1 Gender

There were 70 NQTs, out of 71, who indicated their gender. Of these 17 (25%) were males and 53 (75%) were females. A total of 61 out of 64 exiting student teachers indicated their gender. Out of these 11 (18%) were males and 50 (82%) females. This finding shows how in the Lesotho teaching force female teachers outnumber their male counterparts.

5.2.2 Age

The age of the NQTs ranged from 22 to 60 years, with the majority (75%) being 32 years or younger. On the other hand, the age of the 58 exiting student teachers who responded to the question ranged from 21 to 33 years, and the majority (79%) were 25 years or younger1.

1 As explained in Chapter 2, the NQT questionnaire was sent to schools and was distributed by the headteacher. From the returns, it seems likely that a small number of questionnaires were inadvertently filled out by older teachers, hence the wider age range.

5.2.3 Teaching experience

Most NQTs, that is, 47 (66%), had taught before studying at the College. Of these, 60% had taught at primary and 21% at secondary level. Seven individuals had taught at both primary and secondary levels. More female NQTs (72%) than male NQTs (53%) had taught prior to attending the College. A total of 24 (34%) of the NQTs had not taught before. Most of the NQTs who had prior teaching experience were over 30 years old.

Over 80% of the exiting student teachers had not taught before entering teacher training. Most of those with teaching experience were over 26 years old, and were female.

The figures given above suggest that teachers who trained some time ago were much more likely to have had some informal experience of teaching than those who have recently entered training, because applicants are now usually taken direct from high school. This has implications for the curriculum, as discussed in Chapter 3.

5.3 Views about aspects of the teacher education programme

The views of the two groups are quite similar. The overall impression is that NTTC graduates value their training greatly, find most of it useful, especially the professional studies and methods components, and rely heavily on what they have learnt when they enter teaching.

5.3.1 Length of training

There was a difference between the groups here. Most of the exiting student teachers (64%) wanted the length of training to be decreased, while approximately 39% of the NQTs wanted it to remain the same, and nearly half thought it should be lengthened. One interpretation might be that the initial period could well be reduced, but supplemented by more in-service training at a later date.

5.3.2 Perceived usefulness of the components and the balance between them.

The message is not entirely clear. In general, both groups claimed almost everything to be useful. Professional Studies (PS) and methods courses topped most of the lists, and this was reinforced by the value NQTs accorded to the various kinds of general pedagogic knowledge they were taught.

Asked to comment on the 'balance' between content v. methods, and theory v. practice, both groups want more time on methods, and the NQTs also thought more time should be given to content. Both groups agreed that the amount of theory was about right, but that more time was needed on 'practical activity'. How they interpreted this last phrase is not clear, since they do not seem to value practical activities such as micro-teaching, teaching practice preparation (TPP) or even teaching practice (TP) so highly. Certainly their priorities for improving the course put more methods courses at the top of the list, followed by more subject content, more books and more help with exams. It is interesting that the new DEP prioritises content over methods, in direct contrast to these views.

Further evidence about how they value the training is shown by the fact that both groups claimed to feel confident about most aspects of teaching, especially in subject content, lesson preparation and class control. Most doubt was expressed over dealing with individual needs and assessing pupils' work, and the exiting group expressed some doubts about methods.

5.3.3 Additional ideas for inclusion in the training programme

With regard to teaching practice both the NQTs and exiting student teachers indicated that they wanted more support from the College tutors rather than from the schools. This confirms evidence quoted above in Chapter 4. Other suggestions included the following: increase of class hours, opening of the library around the clock, raising the programme to degree level, follow-up of students after training, and more methods of teaching English.

5.4 Transition into teaching

5.4.1 Deployment

In Lesotho most teachers apply for their jobs, either directly to a school, or to one of the Church Secretariats that own most of the schools. Of the NQTs, 70% found their jobs this way. Otherwise they answered an advertisement or heard informally of vacancies.

5.4.2 Kinds of schools - School physical facilities

Availability of facilities and furniture vary greatly from school to school. The observation data shows that some schools have adequate and good quality furniture in the form of desks, tables and chairs. The reverse is true for other schools, to an extent that pupils use their laps for writing. In situations where furniture was in place, it was observed that the seating arrangement for pupils was in rows, where desks were placed one after another, leaving only a walking space for the teacher. Such an arrangement neither encourages maximum pupil participation nor allows the teacher to interact with all pupils. However, it is a very common seating arrangement, even at the College itself. Although the Educational Foundations course teaches about the merits and demerits of various seating arrangements, it may not be possible to apply the theory in the real world because of crowded classrooms in most primary schools in the country.

5.4.3 Class size and classes taught

In the survey, NQTs reported that their class sizes ranged widely from 4 to 170. Roughly a quarter taught in classes with < 30 pupils; half taught in classes with > 40 pupils. A quarter had classes of over 60. The classes observed ranged from 5 (a Special Unit) to 72.

Most of the surveyed NQT (>85%) taught only one class. They were spread over all 7 standards, although over 60% were concentrated in standards 5-7. About 10% taught standard 1. This finding might reflect a tendency to put NQTs in higher standards. Of those who taught more than one standard, most reported teaching standards 2 and 3.

5.4.4 Support from the professional and community

(i) Induction into teaching

It appears that very little professional induction of NQTs goes on in schools. Most commonly, NQTs are shown round and introduced to people - sometimes just to teachers and pupils, at other times to important community groups or representatives. Two NQTs mentioned being given accommodation. A few just said they were 'oriented' or 'briefed about the situation here'; but others gave more details. For example, three specifically mentioned being helped on lesson planning, scheming and classroom management. Three others said they were given what was needed for their class. Finally, there were others who stated that they were given 'official books' and shown how to use the record books.

Issues that were most frequently cited in terms of induction programmes and which were found useful included assessment of pupils, keeping records, information about the school and relationship with other teachers, disciplining pupils, information about the community, and, to a less extent, information about where to go to get help. Interestingly, 25% of the respondents reported that classroom teaching and school and community relations were not among issues investigated in the induction exercise. Perhaps it is assumed that these should have been fully attended to during training at the College. It has to be noted here that the topics that are high on the agenda are largely administrative, or have to do with control and management. The principal was said to be the main source of help, followed by the co-operating class teacher and then other teachers.

It appears that most schools supply NQTs with all or most of the official documents such as syllabuses and textbooks, while some also provide them with teachers' guides, and reference materials. It would seem that the provision of teaching and learning materials varies from school to school.

(ii) The role of cooperating teachers and mentors

According to the school principals, the current practice is that NQTs are attached to class teachers so that the two can share responsibilities and observe each other. This is intended to provide support to NQTs. However, contrary to what the principals said, NQTs pointed out that the co-operating teachers did not render much classroom support but only worked closely with them during 'scheming of work to be covered, setting examination or test questions'. In addition, the NQTs consider co-operating teachers' support to be more appropriate than that of the principals. The NQTs' suggestion that the co-operating teachers be provided with necessary skills seems to be valid. Thus, those who are charged with the responsibility of helping NQTs in the schools can do so effectively only if they are properly trained.

(iii) Problems and concerns

Newly Qualified Teachers reported meeting a wide range of problems, particularly those related to classroom management. Several of them found it difficult to deal with individual needs, especially in cases where there was a wide age range among pupils. Some encountered problems in introducing a lesson, time management, using methods taught at NTTC, planning, scheming and keeping records of work done. A few had curricular problems such as teaching all subjects, or dealing with standard 1, and one or two found it hard to 'make pupils understand'. Some NQTs also made reference to pupils' poor English. Others mentioned personal problems, such as lack of confidence in various forms or feelings of isolation, and six referred to relationships with other teachers.

Concerns expressed by the principals focused on the following issues, punctuality, practising of corporal punishment, and lack of skills required to handle pupils with disability. They complained that NQTs experience difficulties in managing time, the tendency being to teach for a longer time than allocated for a lesson period. From this evidence, it would seem that not all principals are aware of the difficulties faced by new teachers.

5.5 Newly qualified teachers in practice

All NQTs reported that the teaching strategies learned at NTTC were either very useful or quite useful. Lesson planning came top (94%) as being very useful, followed by 'introducing a lesson' (90%). Others included 'scheme of work' (87%), 'keeping records' (85%), 'group work' (74%), handling 'question/answer' sessions (72%), and 'closing a lesson' and 'methods of assessment' (68% each). It is interesting to note that respondents rated 'introduction' high and 'closure' sections of lesson presentations low. Observations of College lecturers' teaching tend to suggest that few of them bring a closure to their lessons. This finding probably demonstrates that the NQTs could be reflecting what they observed and internalised at the College.

Overall, NQTs seemed to value what they were taught at the NTTC, and claimed to teach in similar ways to how they were taught in College. Most differences were felt to be in dealing with individual pupil needs, classroom management, and disciplining pupils. This section will draw on the observational data to see how far NQTs are putting into practice what they say they have learnt.

5.5.1 Introducing lessons

Observing NQTs in practice revealed that they vary in the manner in which they introduce their lessons. The tendency is to begin by greeting pupils, writing the date, subject and standard on the chalkboard. This practice is very common in Lesotho primary school classrooms. Thus, the NQTs could be reproducing what they have internalized throughout their schooling period.

5.5.2 Subject/content knowledge

Most of the NQTs who were observed seemed to adequately master the subject content. However, there were situations where they could not sufficiently explain concepts to the pupils. For example, the ideas of 'profit' and 'enterprise' were not understood by the class.

5.5.3 Teaching methods

The classroom observations revealed that the most common method of teaching followed by NQTs is question-and-answer. All questions come from teachers, with pupils' response usually given in chorus. Another common method was explanation/lecturing. No groupwork was seen. As another sub-study clearly shows (see Chap.4) lecturers at the College are inclined to use the lecture method most frequently, and although they do use groupwork, it is not well implemented. It may be that NQTs have not experienced successful groupwork and therefore are not ready to use it themselves. In some of the classes observed pupils were not relaxed and there was no visible interaction among pupils themselves. However, there were other teachers who had good interaction with the children.

5.5.4 Teaching and learning materials

The NQTs say they rely heavily on notes and on teaching and learning materials developed at the College, but much less on books. Some NQTs claim to use the libraries and teaching materials available in neighbouring schools, showing that they had learned from the College that libraries hold relevant materials that can be used for teaching and learning purposes. However, when observed, most of these NQTs tended to prefer to handle the materials themselves and only required pupils to observe. Teaching young children becomes more effective if they are allowed to explore materials and use all their senses to interact with them so that learning can occur. Additionally, in the majority of the observed classes there was no visible display of pupils' written work, even though the 'learning centres' or corners earmarked specifically for display of materials for a particular subject area were visible, well assembled and adequately resourced.

5.5.5 Classroom management

Despite the fact that pupils were often noisy and inattentive during lessons, some observed NQTs satisfactorily maintained good discipline among pupils, and used neither corporal punishment nor heavy reprimand. It can be argued that some NQTs manage their classrooms skilfully. Most of the principals expressed the view that generally most NQTs had good classroom control and management.

5.5.6 Assessment

Asked to comment on the different assessment approaches they used at school, NQTs in the survey ranked them as follows: short-answer type (87%), practical work (70%), true/false (54%), multiple choice (45%), essay (36%) and projects (25%). Presumably, the methods of assessing pupils vary according to the grade taught. In addition, classroom observations revealed that written students' work was adequately checked and marked, although there were differences among various teachers in the way they handled this task. Checking students' written work is a common practice in Lesotho primary school classrooms. Pupils are assigned tasks individually and are expected to show their answers to the teacher (Chabane et al. 1989).

5.5.7 Comparisons with unqualified teachers

Compared with the NQTs, the unqualified teachers interviewed and observed seemed less confident that they could handle the job. In dealing with the syllabus, they were relying on their high school knowledge, and on methods remembered from their own schooldays. Surprisingly, one was acting as cooperating teacher for an NQT; she admitted she had learnt from the NQT, and as a result was planning to go for training.

From all this it would seem that the NQTs have indeed brought relevant knowledge and skills from the College into the schools, and were more effective teachers than those untrained. However, there is little evidence that they were able to act as change agents, or to develop their practice in new ways to meet the challenges of difficult classroom conditions.

5.6 Attitudes and perceptions

The perceptions and views of NQTs and both the entering and exiting student teachers on issues related to teachers and teaching were gathered through a Likert-type instrument administered as part of the questionnaires. The instrument had four response options which ranged from 'strong agreement' which was coded 1, 'agreement' coded 2, through 'disagreement' coded 3, to 'strong disagreement' which was coded 4. For each statement, the expected mean response was 2.5. A response mean below 2.5 was considered to indicate some level of agreement with the statement, and vice versa for the mean above this figure. The instrument was administered to a total of 70 NQTs, 90 entering students and 50 exiting student teachers.

Table 5.1 gives the statements and the results for the three groups.

Table 5.1: Perceptions and Views of Entering and Exiting Students and NQTs on Teachers, Teaching and Learning


Entering Student Teachers

Exiting Student Teachers

NQTs


N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

N

Mean

SD

1. The most important thing a teacher can do is teach pupils facts that they need to know.

89

1.94

0.98

59

1.51

0.73

68

1.71

0.79

2. Teachers cannot do much to improve the results of slow learners.

87

3.18

0.97

59

3.22

0.95

68

3.46

0.74

3. Children need to be divided into ability groups to be taught well.

88

2.10

1.04

27

2.44

1.01

69

2.17

0.95

4. I think it will be easy to use new teaching method in my school




27

1.78

0.75

68

2.00

0.67

5. I find it difficult to make teaching and learning aids.




27

3.22

0.85

70

3.04

0.71

6. After teaching lessons in school, I write down how to improve next time.




27

1.67

0.62

70

1.77

0.57

7. There is no time in the school for teachers to plan lessons well.




27

2.85

1.06

70

2.86

1.00

8. School pupils learn more from listening to the teacher than from asking questions

88

2.88

0.98

58

2.69

0.88

70

2.93

0.79

9. School children learn best when in small groups.




59

1.39

0.53

68

1.21

0.41

10. Teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline in schools without corporal punishment.

85

3.04

0.88

59

2.61

1.11

70

2.67

0.93

11. Corporal punishment is not useful for helping children to learn




26

1.88

1.07

70

2.01

0.96

12. People who are good at teaching do not need much training




27

2.96

1.06

70

3.21

0.78

13. Teachers are born not made.

86

2.37

0.96

56

2.09

0.98

70

2.14

1.04

14. I feel (felt) well prepared to start my teaching career




27

1.59

0.63

70

1.63

0.68

15. I need more training to be an effective teacher.




27

1.77

0.85

70

1.54

0.74

16. All you need to do well in college tests is good memory




59

2.03

0.78




17. Doing well in college examinations is easier than doing well at secondary school.




58

2.65

1.05




18. Examinations are a fair test of what I have learnt at college.




27

2.00

0.68




19. I prefer being assessed through assignment than through end-of-term examinations.




26

2.23

1.07




20. Teaching is a very difficult job to do well

89

2.52

1.01

56

2.73

0.96

70

2.86

0.69

21. Teaching is easier than many other jobs I could do..




27

2.44

1.09

70

2.69

0.93

22. I think being a teacher is the best job I can get.




56

2.20

1.07

70

1.96

0.94

23. Primary school teachers are respected in the community




37

2.00

0.91

70

2.13

0.74

24. My friends think I am fortunate to be (trained to be) a school teacher

84

2.19

1.06

27

1.85

0.82

69

2.39

0.89

25. I would rather teach in a secondary than in a primary school.

89

2.90

0.95

56

3.13

0.96

70

2.96

0.69

26. I would rather have gone to university than teacher training college

90

2.93

0.98

56

2.73

1.00

70

2.54

1.00

27. I know many teachers who would prefer to do other jobs.




56

1.98

0.86

70

2.09

0.83

28. Women make the best primary school principals




27

2.44

1.12

70

2.21

0.87

29. Men make the best primary school class teachers.




56

2.52

0.87

70

2.71

0.78

A further analysis was carried out on the ten items common to all three groups. This helps to highlight whether, and how, the teachers' views may have changed through their training and early years of experience. Since the samples were different, the comparisons are cross-sectional rather than longitudinal, so the results are suggestive rather than firm. Fig. 5.1 summarises the results in graphical form.


Figure 5.1: Comparisons between the attitudes of entering students, exiting students, and NQTs

Details of items

1. The most important thing a teacher can do is teach pupils facts that they need to know (Facts)

2. School pupils learn more from listening to the teacher than from asking questions (Listen)

3. Teachers cannot do much to improve the academic performance of low achieving students (Slow lrn)

4. Children need to be divided into ability groups to be taught well (Grouping)

6. Teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline in schools without corporal punishment (Punish)

7. Teachers are born not made (Tchrs born)

8. My friends think I am fortunate to be training to be a school teacher (Fortune)

9. Teaching is a very difficult job to do well (Difficult)

10. I would rather teach in a secondary school than a primary school (Pref Sec)

11. I would rather have gone to university than teacher training college (Pref Uni)2

2 Adapted from Coultas and Lewin (2002). No.5 was not applicable to Lesotho.

As can be seen, the mean responses did not vary greatly. Typically the range in mean score is 0.5 or less between the greatest and the least. This suggests that in the main the attitudes expressed here are fairly stable. However, there are some potentially interesting changes, and three items - 3, 9 and 11 - show a consistent direction of difference between entry, exit and NQT.

5.6.1 Views on Teaching and Learning

Most respondents agree with importance of 'teaching students facts', but the entering students seem least certain, while the exiting students agree most strongly. Opinion is more divided on the statement that 'pupils learn more from asking questions than from listening to the teacher'; though all groups tend to disagree, the exiting group are least sure. The majority of respondents agree that 'children need to be grouped according to ability', though again the exiting students are least certain. There is much stronger agreement among NQTs and the exit group that children do 'learn best in small groups', though whether this is actually done in practice is doubtful, from the classroom observation. On the evidence presented here the college course seems to reinforce traditional approaches: a focus on facts, transmission methods, and whole class teaching. This was indeed what was observed among the NQTs.

Exiting students and NQTs share similar views about their teaching: they tend to think it is 'easy to use new teaching methods', and claim to 'write down how to improve' their lessons. They disagree firmly that 'making teaching/learning aids is difficult' but are less sure that there is enough 'time in school for teachers to plan lessons'. The strongest disagreement, for all the groups, is with the statement that 'teachers cannot do much to improve the results of slow learners' and this increases from entry through to NQTs. It is heartening that their training apparently helps young teachers to feel more confident of their effectiveness.

5.6.2 Corporal Punishment

There is some ambivalence about using the cane. Given the statement 'teachers find it difficult to maintain discipline without corporal punishment': the entering students disagree significantly*3 more strongly than those who have been through the training. On the other hand exiting students and NQTs agree quite strongly that 'Corporal punishment is not useful for helping children to learn'. It seems they believe it is wrong but a number feel it is still necessary.

3 Chi square where *=p<0.05

5.6.3 Nature of the teacher and attitudes to training

A majority of respondents in all the groups believe 'teachers are born not made', though the entering students are least sure. However, responses to further statements suggest most of those who have experienced professional training see it as important. Thus while exiting and NQTs groups said they felt 'well prepared to start teaching', they also agree they 'need more training to be effective' and that even those 'good at teaching' should be trained. These results seem to confirm the other evidence that respondents value their training; they believe it is both necessary and useful, and that it helps them to do their job more effectively.

5.6.4 Assessment

The exiting student teachers agreed that 'all one needs to do well in College tests is a good memory'. This could be a reflection of the low quality of recall type of questions in the College's tests and examinations. The student teachers marginally disagreed with the statement that 'doing well in college examinations is easier than doing well at secondary school', but tended to agree that examinations are a 'fair test' of what they have learnt. They also agreed that they prefer 'being assessed through assignment than through end-of-term examinations'.

5.6.5 Perceptions of the teaching profession

The responses appear to show considerable ambivalence. The statement 'teaching is a very difficult job to do well' elicits mounting disagreement among the three groups, suggesting confidence increases with training and experience. On the other hand, NQTs seem less likely than exiting students to agree that 'teaching is easier than many other jobs I could do'. Both groups tend to agree that 'being a teacher is the best job I can get', and that 'primary school teachers are respected'.

On the whole, the groups agree that their friends 'think I'm fortunate to be a teacher'. This is most strongly marked among NQTs and least among the exiting students. Most indicate they would not 'prefer to teach in a secondary school', again this being most strongly indicated by the exiting group. However, when asked if they 'would rather have gone to university', there is a clear trend over time towards agreement, and the NQTs are significantly* more likely to wish they had. This is consistent with their yearnings to 'further their studies' in some way.

Thus most seem relatively satisfied with a career in primary teaching, though with experience comes an increasing regret they had only been to the College. Some dissatisfaction is indicated by the way the exit and NQT groups also agree they 'know many teachers who would prefer to do other jobs'.

On the gender question, there is a tendency to agree that 'women make the best primary school principals', and to disagree that 'men make the best primary school class teachers'.

Care must be taken in interpreting these patterns, given the problems of sampling, respondents' interpretation of the statements, and construct validity. However, certain patterns seem to emerge:

- The training course does not seem to produce radical shifts in their views.
- Some changes in attitudes may be reversed after they have moved to schools.
- In some aspects, more traditional attitudes seem to be reinforced rather than challenged.
- Most seem relatively content to be primary teachers.

These findings cannot be considered conclusive. However, they are not inconsistent with other data from the questionnaires (see next section), and from the classroom observations.

5.7 Emergence of a new role identity

The Likert items can be complemented by further data from the survey, including answers to open-ended questions, which throw some light on the new teachers' perception of their emerging professional identity

5.7.1 Life as a teacher

When NQTs were asked to comment on their life as teachers, many expressed positive feelings. For example, they reported a feeling of respect towards them as teachers (90%), confidence in contributing to some changes in the school system (70%), settling quickly into the job (67%), feeling that pupils understand quickly (64%), finding pupils easy to manage (60%), and enjoying their work (58%). Asked what they considered their greatest success, almost a quarter highlighted pupils' achievements, and a substantial number wrote about creating good relationships with pupils; fewer mentioned new teaching methods.

5.7.2 Important things learned

Asked to identify important things they had learned, the majority mentioned aspects of a broad and reflective nature, while others were more focussed on practical classroom skills, or routine tasks of a teacher's life.

Some reflected on their own personal development: 'I've changed a lot, become more polite, tolerant and sympathetic'; 'I'm improving my English'; 'I feel confident to help solve people's problems'. The relationship theme appears again in 'I must be a friend to the students'. Others phrased their learning in a more general way, echoing perhaps the 'ethics' or role model theme found in the tutors' discourse: 'A teacher must have initiative'; and 'a teacher must love his work and be patient'.

Some of the comments indicate a growing awareness of the complexity of the role: 'The profession is challenging'; 'slow learners need endurance'; In some there appears a readiness for life-long learning: 'The more one teaches, the more one learns - from pupils, teachers and the community'. Only a couple sounded disillusioned: 'Teaching is badly paid, one has little chance of further study'.

About a quarter focus on some practical aspect of teaching. This may be straight skills, such as 'grouping method is best' or 'setting questions', but others describe high level, complex skills, showing how awareness and technique have to be integrated: 'pupils do not fall under one category so ... I have to unite them and make them ... ready to learn and enjoy that learning'.

Such answers provide some evidence of the effects of training and how it leads to a new sense of identity as a teacher. One notes there is a difference at the level of discourse; in these comments and reflections the NQTs are able to articulate much more sophisticated ideas about teaching than the entering students in their essays. At the same time, one can note that there is still a strong emphasis given to the personal, nurturing aspects of teaching, similar to that expressed by the entering students (see Chap.3). In many ways, these new teachers seem to be following in the same tradition.

The question remains, as to how far they fully understand the implications of what they have learnt, and whether they can apply their ideas in practice. This may depend crucially on the school ethos and environment, and the present study did not pursue this thread.

5.7.3 Career plans

A large majority wanted to further their studies, but few said they would move from primary to secondary, and even fewer (5%) wanted to leave teaching. The College seems to have confirmed them in their professional ambitions.

5.8 How they are perceived by stakeholders

The principals and DRTs were not at all unanimous. In general, they praised NQTs' energy and commitment, but some complained about poor punctuality and time management. The heads believed that NQTs have good content knowledge and particularly appreciated their understanding of new curriculum subjects like art and health education; they also mentioned their 'good teaching methods', but criticised their blackboard work and record-keeping. On the issue of language, there were conflicting responses in that some principals were of the view that NQTs were fluent in English while others expressed a strong feeling that NTTC should place more emphasis on the mastery of the English language.

Some stakeholders feel that the interest and enthusiasm of the NQTs does not last beyond the first two years, and that thereafter they are not performing as they should. This should be seen in the light of interviews held with two representatives of the Parents in Education Association. These did indeed express the view that teachers were responsible for the kind of student produced in the schools, and criticised the teachers for lack of creativity, saying that they failed to foster 'inquisitive minds' among students.

A national question is therefore: what contributes to the observed decline in teaching and professional ethics? If indeed NQTs demonstrate willingness to contribute to school development, are innovative and bring new ideas to schools, but these are not sustained throughout the life of a teacher, then something is wrong. Collaboration between the pre-service and the in-service institutions with the aim of ensuring that work ethics are maintained, is desirable.

5.9 Concluding discussion

One big question addressed by the MUSTER project through the 'Impact of Teaching' sub-study, among others, was the extent to which teacher education makes a difference. The sub-study has established that NQTs seem to be able to articulate much more sophisticated ideas about teaching than is the case with exiting students and those who are at the entry level. Additionally, NQTs have been found to perform differently from unqualified teachers (UTs) in the way they teach. However, the answer to the complex question: 'does teacher training make a difference?' calls for a longitudinal type of investigation, which was not possible in this project. Thus, the findings should be considered tentative until further empirical studies are undertaken.

It is also important to note here that most of the data used here was obtained from the PTC graduates. The findings therefore may not apply to the graduates of DEP. During the time of the study this programme had not yet produced graduates.

5.9.1 How the new teachers evaluate their training

The findings show that exiting student teachers value teaching and the teacher education programme. They feel confident that they can teach well. The main problems they encounter include lack of skills in classroom management and in dealing with individual pupils' needs, especially in large heterogeneous groups. The implication here is that the College should address problems experienced in the school system. These teachers enter the College with varying experiences, some having taught and all having been students of the Lesotho primary school system. Relating their experience more closely to their world of work might go a long way towards preparing them for the problems they are likely to experience.

5.9.2 Entry into work

The lack of a formal induction programme into teaching is a serious gap. Nonetheless most NQTs seem to settle fairly easily into their new jobs. Even though less than half received any organised induction, they seem to have had a lot of help from the principals, and rather less from other teachers. Normally, syllabuses and textbooks are provided for them, while reference materials and other related resources are not.

Material resources do not seem to be the main problem. Rather, it is more the lack of confidence on the part of NQTs, particularly when faced with the realities of the classroom situation. One begins to question the extent to which teaching practice prepares trainees to better achieve the objective of becoming confident. Nonetheless, some responses tend to suggest that NQTs have acquired the ability to reflect and articulate professional ideas, and that they are concerned about their pupils, can manage their classes, feel respected, are reasonably content with their job, and show commitment to their work.

Many of the difficulties reported are issues to which the College curriculum could pay more attention. Trainees could be better prepared to face potential school problems through case studies, role plays and discussion, although confidence and expertise only come with practice. Perhaps the idea of peer support among NQTs should be explored.

5.9.3 Observed effects on teaching

While there is no doubt that the NTTC graduates leave the College with content and pedagogic knowledge, it seems that the main methods of teaching that they eventually get to use most are explanation/lecture and the question-and-answer. Because of large class sizes they have to cope with, NQTs resort to those teaching methods that enable them to reach all students but which allow little attention to be paid to individual students' needs.

The NQTs are able to choose relevant content and present it systematically and confidently to learners. They show clear understanding of the use of a school syllabus, manage their classroom fairly well, are to a large extent able to plan their lessons and use suitable resources, and assess students and provide them with necessary feedback. In short, the College training has an impact on the graduates, particularly in the acquisition of pedagogy and content.

There are certainly perceived differences between NQTs and unqualified teachers concerning issues that are pertinent to the teaching profession. NQTs are capable of using their acquired pedagogic and content knowledge while untrained teachers have to rely on their high school content knowledge. The interview data suggests that unqualified teachers wish to emulate the NQTs.

5.9.4 Changes in attitudes and perceptions

College training seems to have enhanced young teachers' confidence and enabled them to fit reasonably well into the existing school system, where most of them intend to stay. It has inducted them into a new discourse with which to think and talk about their job. At the same time, the evidence suggests that deep-rooted attitudes to teaching and to the profession have not changed much. If anything, their more conservative and traditional views have been reinforced. This confirms what was said in Chapter 3 about how important it is to recognise what students bring with them, and how often their views remain unchanged. If the new DEP students are to be different, and to fulfil the ambitious aims of the new programme, the College must explore seriously ways of challenging and reshaping such views.

5.9.5 How they are perceived

Finally, perceptions of stakeholders with regard to the NTTC graduates are contradictory. There is definitely a group that tends to view NTTC graduates positively in many respects. There is however another group that is of the view that the College needs to work harder to produce quality personnel for the Lesotho primary school system. These different views about the NTTC graduates might be a message for the College to engage in a nation-wide impact study in order to get a full picture of how its products are being evaluated.