What do new teachers need to know?

Thursday 8 October, 18.30 until 20.00, Pimlico Academy Primary, Lupus Street, Pimlico, London, SW1V 3AT. UK Satellites

Tickets: £5/£3 - book via Eventbrite.

Initial teacher training underwent significant, perhaps fundamental, reform under the previous Coalition administration. Initially it seemed a practical experience-based approach was going to be favoured. Former Education Secretary Michael Gove argued teaching should be understood as a ‘craft’ that was ‘best learnt as an apprentice observing a master’. Following this, funding shifted decisively to school-led programmes, in the belief that these would provide a common-sense alternative to the overly theoretical or ideological approach of many university-based programmes. At the same time a fleet of Teaching Schools was launched, while the heads of Academies were given the right to recruit unqualified teachers directly. Simultaneously the professional standards by which new teachers are judged were also rewritten, giving greater priority to the key teaching skills many believe are essential to effective and authoritative classroom practice.

More recently, however, there seemed to be a shift in emphasis, with greater significance being attached to the idea that new teachers need to adopt an open, flexible and evidence-based approach. The Carter Review, which recently examined the future of initial teacher training for government, concluded that debates over the location of initial teacher training were not ‘terribly helpful’. Instead it advocated a mixed economy, similar to clinical training, in which both schools and universities play a part, with new recruits being offered both the ‘crucial elements of knowledge, skills and understanding that all teachers need’ and the opportunity to ‘learn from our best teachers’. Critically Carter concluded that the very best initial training ensures new teachers have strong subject-knowledge, an awareness of subject-specific pedagogy, as well as the ability to ‘access… evaluate and challenge research findings’.

So what knowledge, skills and experiences do new teachers need? Does it help be understand teaching as a craft, a science, perhaps even an art? What balance should be struck between theory and practice? Do we need a new College of Teaching to act as a professional gatekeeper? And with increasing numbers of Academies now employing unqualified teachers, do teachers really need formal certification beyond their first degree?


Dr Peter Kent
immediate past president, ASCL; headteacher, Lawrence Sheriff School

Leila MacTavish
head of initial teacher education, Future Training, Future Academies

Angela McFarlane
chief executive and registrar, The College of Teachers

Carolyn Robson
executive headteacher, Rushey Mead School, Leicester; CEO, Rushey Mead Educational Trust

Dr Alex Standish
senior lecturer in geography education, University College London/Institute of Education

Toby Marshall
A Level Film Studies Teacher; PhD researcher in sociology of education, UCL Institute of Education

Produced by
Toby Marshall A Level Film Studies Teacher; PhD researcher in sociology of education, UCL Institute of Education

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