The National Improvement Framework (2016) states the central principle of education in Scotland to "create a more successful country with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth". This is premised on meeting the needs and aspirations of children, families and communities, enabling all to fulfil their potential, closing the poverty-related attainment gap, striving for excellence in our education system and increasing sustainable economic growth.
The broad aim of the project is to explore the views and perceptions of probationer teachers, probationer supporters and local authority probation managers on the impact of Initial Teacher Education on the preparedness of probation teachers to:
- effectively and confidently deliver literacy and numeracy
- effectively and confidently contribute to HWB
- support equality
- use data literacy to inform professional judgement.
Probationer teachers expressed the view that that they were highly confident in their readiness to teach in all area of the curriculum. Probation managers and probationer supporters also thought probationer teachers display confidence in their readiness to teach.
Probationer teachers indicated that they are very confident in their readiness to teach in most areas. However, they expressed some concerns regarding knowledge gaps in key areas, particularly in the teaching of phonics and reading, and some mathematical concepts.
The expectations of the experiences and outcomes (Es & Os) are generally understood by probationer teachers but it was reported that they lack the experience to provide appropriately differentiated learning activities to meet the needs of all learners. In general, the range of preparedness in differentiation was attributed to probationers' own experiences and background.
For all areas considered in this report, the level of confidence in developing resources of probationer teacher is less than their confidence level in their knowledge or ability to teach in all key areas. It was suggested by all groups that the level of confidence in preparing resources was dependent upon the individual probationer teachers' previous experiences.
Based on the data, probationer teachers are least confident in data literacy in comparison to other areas reported on in this study. It is not clear the cause of this lack of confidence and may be due in part to a lack of understanding of what constitutes data literacy or if this is addressed in sufficient depth during ITE.
Theory to practice
Comments from the probationer supporters and probationer managers suggest that partnership working between local authorities and ITE providers can be further improved. Probationer managers indicated that they would like a better understanding of ITE programmes to enable them to better support probationer teachers' professional learning by helping them put the theories of learning explored during ITE into practice in a new context during the TIS. This could also support local authorities to offer personalisation and choice of professional learning and target their support capacity to maximise positive impact on the probationer teachers learning journey.
Elective Programmes of study
All ITE programmes offer elective programmes of study to provide personalisation and choice for student teachers. Students choosing these electives generally feel well prepared to tech in the elective area. However, many did not feel fully prepared to teach core areas of literacy, numeracy and HWB, given the lesser amount of time spent in these areas.
Pace of learning
All groups reported that a lack of time/priority, lack of opportunity and lack of support are barriers to the further development of skills in literacy, numeracy, HWB, equality and their ability as student teachers to generate and analyse data to support the progress of students.
There appears to be a disconnect between the responses from probationer teachers throughout this study. Although the probationer teachers indicated that they were confident in most areas, when offered further support, the majority indicated that they would embrace the opportunity for further learning.
Areas for further consideration
Based on the evidence, it is suggested that the following may be worthy of further consideration:
- Review the memorandum of entry qualifications of ITE programmes to ensure high quality candidates with the essential knowledge, abilities and disposition are selected into ITE programmes.
- To explore the support needs identified in putting theory into practice in the classroom in ways that support all children and young people effectively
- To include more practical examples in delivering aspects of the curriculum
- To further understand the views of probationers and probationer supporters on the perceived lack of balance and emphasis during ITE across key areas such as health and wellbeing and equality.
- To consider which aspects of elective programmes of study may be most useful in becoming part of mainstream programmes
- To consider the skills progression of probationer teachers, in particular related to developing resources to support the learning needs of all young people.
- Review the support for coaching and mentoring for probationer teachers and probationer supporters during the TIS placement
- Review the early career phase of a teacher's journey to bring cohesion to the expectations of and support for early career teachers.
- Further research into the differing perceptions about the probationer teachers readiness to teach