7 LA/University partnerships
7.1 Partnership working between Local Authorities and Universities was highlighted in TSF as a key means of delivering a more coherent transition between ITE and induction, with all LAs to be committed to a formal partnership with a university by August 2013. TSF recommended that partnerships could improve student experiences of school placements but also identified the role of partnerships in providing high quality probationer placements and professional learning, and increasing professional dialogue between the school and university sectors. In addition, the report suggested there was scope for partnerships to develop a broader CLPL remit beyond the early phase.
7.2 In September 2015, Education Scotland published the Aspect Review of the Education Authority and University ITE Partnership Arrangements (phase one). The Aspect Review presents findings on the first stage evaluation of the LA/University partnerships. Our findings in this report are broadly in line with those of the Aspect Review, particularly in relation to joint assessment and placements, and the impacts of collaborative working.
What's working well?
7.3 LA representatives reported that partnerships with ITE providers were one of the main benefits of TSF.
Support for ITE
7.4 Three quarters of LA representatives rated their partnerships as 'very effective' or 'effective' at supporting student experiences of ITE. This included increased teacher involvement in ITE student selection processes and increased joint assessment of student placements.
7.5 Partnerships have increased collaborative working not only between LAs and universities, but also between LAs and other LAs, and among universities who are in the same partnerships. This has had the following benefits:
- improving cross-sectoral understanding of working practices and procedures, and challenges and pressures
- providing a focus for universities and LAs to share resources and co-develop learning activities (e.g. trialling practitioner enquiry and experiential learning courses)
- creating opportunities for LAs to share resources and co-deliver CLPL with other LAs
- developing SCQF level 11 accreditation of Local Authority CLPL courses
- increasing SCQF level 11 opportunities for Leadership CLPL (e.g. Into Headship, middle leadership programmes)
- increasing opportunities for cross-sectoral secondments (e.g. teacher secondment to ITE tutoring roles).
7.6 Students valued the role and input of seconded teachers in ITE as they were able to discuss current 'on the ground' realities of classroom practice and approaches to teaching.
7.7 As noted in chapter 5, university stakeholders saw increased collaborative working between themselves and individual schools and teachers (rather than local authorities) as a positive development. However, they felt that there was still scope to develop a closer working relationship.
What are the challenges?
Awareness of partnerships
7.8 Awareness of LA/university partnerships was low. Only 30% of survey respondents were aware of a partnership between their LA and a university to support professional learning.
7.9 Furthermore, only 29% of respondents who had completed ITE in Scotland in the last year were aware of a partnership between their LA and a university when completing their probationary period. However, the results do suggest that awareness is increasing over time: 29% of the most recent cohort compared with 25% of those who had completed ITE 1-2 years ago and 10% of those who had completed ITE 2-5 years ago.
7.10 Among those who had recently completed ITE and were aware of a partnership, views of the partnership were mixed: 34% thought the university and local authority worked together well to deliver the probationary period; 31% thought they worked together adequately; and 22% thought they worked together poorly (Figure 7.1). There was no difference on this point between those who had completed their ITE less than a year ago, those who had completed it 1-2 years ago, and those who had completed it 2-5 years ago.
Figure 7.1 How well or poorly do you think the university and the Local Authority worked together to deliver your probationary period?
Base: All who were aware of a partnership between their local authority and university during probation (113)
Contact with university during probation
7.11 It was not common for respondents to keep in touch with university staff in their probationary year: only 13% did so. Forty-nine per cent did not know that they had the opportunity, 28% said they were not given the opportunity and 10% were given the opportunity but chose not to stay in touch. Those in the secondary sector were nearly twice as likely to keep in touch as those in the primary sector (17%, compared with 9%) (Figure 7.2).
7.12 However, based on a broadly comparable question in the 2010 TSF survey, it appears that the proportion of teachers staying in touch with university staff in their probationary year has more than doubled over the past five years (13% in 2015, compared with 5% in 2010).
Figure 7.2 Did you keep in touch with university staff during your probationary period?
Base: All who completed ITE at a Scottish University (632)
7.13 Although LA representatives highlighted partnership working as one of the main benefits of TSF, there was a perception from some that there was an imbalance of input, with universities having the greater input into the partnerships. In general, LA representatives would prefer increased input into their partnerships, particularly around joint assessment. However, universities identified the reduction of Local Authority central capacity and resources as creating a challenge for partnership working, as LA staff had wider remits than the partnership alone, resulting in their having less time available to dedicate to the partnership, and having limited financial resources to work with.
Partnership CLPL remit
7.14 Some national stakeholders and LA representatives stated that partnerships had not yet fully extended their CLPL remit beyond ITE and Leadership. While national stakeholders and LA representatives generally thought that CLPL in Leadership at SCQF level 11 was well supported by partnerships, there was also a perception that there is potential to develop the CLPL remit into other areas of professional learning. It was also suggested by some of these participants that as the CLPL remit of partnerships widened and CLPL opportunities were publicised, teachers would become more aware of their LA/university partnership.
7.15 University stakeholders recognised this as an area for further development and were keen to increase the sharing of expertise between themselves and LAs/schools. For example, through providing accreditation for CLPL developed by local authorities or by increasing opportunities for teachers to be seconded to ITE.
Key areas for consideration
- More involvement of class teachers in partnership activities
- Continuing the contact between probationers and their ITE providers
- The balance of input from LAs and universities to the partnerships
Email: James Niven