Gathering views on probationer teachers' readiness to teach

The broad aim of the project is to explore the views and perceptions of whether probationer teachers are ready to teach.


A mixed method approach was used to gathering views. This approach was adopted to develop an in-depth understanding of the views of probationer teachers, probationer supporters and local authority probation managers, and to explore differing perspectives. The data was collected using both an on-line self-administered questionnaire and semi-structured focus groups with a mapping framework. Table 1, shows the method used with each group.

Table 1 Method used with each group

Group Methodology used
Probationer teachers
(cohort from session 2015-16)
on-line self-administered questionnaire
Probationer supporters semi-structured focus group with a mapping framework
Local Authority probation managers semi-structured focus group with a mapping framework

Generating data from three sources enabled a triangulation of the evidence to give a holistic understanding of the perceptions of probationer teachers, probationer supporter and probationer managers on probationer teachers' readiness to teach.

Probationer teachers

The electronic questionnaire was created and supported by the commercial product Survey Monkey. The questions were generated with support from colleagues at Strathclyde University.

A link to the on-line survey was sent to all probationer teachers who had completed the TIS in session 2015-16. This was followed up with a reminder email one week later. A second email was sent to those in the probationer teacher cohort who had accessed the link and again followed up one week later with a further reminder email.

Participants answered a balance of closed and open questions, with a mix of mandatory and non-mandatory questions. These took the form of:

  • specifying their level of agreement or selecting a response from a set of statements;
  • selecting appropriate criteria/categories from a specified data-set
  • giving open ended responses
  • commenting after each section.

The probationer teacher survey was structured around the following key areas:

  • A section to determine the respondent population and essential demographic information
  • A section for each of the following topics
    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • HWB
    • Equality
    • Data literacy.

In addition, the survey included a series of questions about the needs of probationer teachers post induction (post- TIS). The probationer teachers were asked to rate how challenged and supported they felt in their post- TIS position. They also rated their views on their need for further support in the areas of

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • HWB
  • Equality
  • Data literacy.

Probationer supporters

Each probationer teacher following the TIS route has an identified probationer supporter. This is usually a teacher in the same school but some local authorities have supporters at a local authority level who work with a number of probationer teachers who undertake observations and contribute to the probationer teachers' interim and final profiles.

Semi-structured focus groups were held with mixed groups of probation supporters in May 2017. The questions for discussion were established from the content of the online questionnaire with starter prompts to support the discussion.

Each focus group was auditory recorded. This was followed by a verbatim transcription and thematic analysis which was used to extract the main key views/opinions and interesting points.

Local authority probation managers

Probationer managers are responsible for the TIS placement experience for all of the probationers across their local authority and are the link person between the local authority and GTC Scotland. Their role includes overseeing each probationer teacher's professional learning programme and providing support to the authority probationer supporters.

Focus groups were conducted during the GTCS Probationer manager seminars held on November 2 and December 8 2016. Again, the questions for discussion were established from the content of the online questionnaire with starter prompts to support the discussion.

A full time line of the data gathering for this report can be found in Appendix 4


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