Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century

The overall aim of this literature review is to understand the contribution that teacher education can make to the quality and effectiveness of the educational experience and wider personal development of young people, drawing on effective practice in Scotland and elsewhere.


Key points summary

  • Teachers' academic calibre impacts positively on pupil achievement. Low performing teachers in the earlier years of schooling have a longer-term detrimental impact on pupil outcomes. Length of experience (beyond the first five years) is not strongly associated with improved outcomes.
  • Academic skills tests to regulate entry to the profession are not reliable predictors of teacher quality. Many dimensions of effective teaching are not reliably predicted by tests of academic ability.
  • The specific contribution of partnership schools to the design, organisation and management of teacher education is under-researched.
  • Systematic mentoring is a key feature of effective support for new and early career stage teachers. Effective mentoring requires investment in mentor selection, preparation and support.
  • Whilst there are difficulties in attributing impact, research reviews suggest that CPD is most effective when it is site-based, fits with school culture and ethos, addresses particular needs of teachers, is peer-led, collaborative and sustained.
  • School and curriculum reform need to be congruent with reform of teacher education i.e. close links between school systems and teacher preparation in universities, and partnership work between the various bodies involved in curriculum development and teacher development.
  • Scant attention has focused on the professional learning of teacher educators and the contribution they can make to curriculum change, whether they are school-based or university-based.


4.1 In response to the second objective, this section of the report addresses the question: What evidence is there of the contribution of teacher education to the development of young people in countries beyond Scotland? It should be noted that there is significant cross-national variation in terms of the governance and regulation of teacher education and the scale and context of provision (Wang et al, 2003; Stoel and Thant, 2002; Ingersoll, 2007). Teacher education programmes vary cross-nationally in terms of entry, assessment, practicum requirements, arrangements for induction, early professional learning and CPD, and compensation and reward systems for recognising accomplished teaching. Programmes reflect particular cultural contexts and the local needs of specific education settings. Any interpretation of findings reported here should therefore be treated with due care to 'context specificity' (Crossley and Watson, 2003; Brisard et al, 2007).

Entry requirements for teacher education

4.2 Whilst the evidence base on teacher effects is complex, some research studies indicate that a teacher's academic calibre impacts on pupil achievement (National Council on Teacher Quality, 2004; Goe, 2007). Based on an analysis of outcomes from the Programme for International Student Assessment ( PISA) across 25 school systems, the McKinsey Report (2007) noted a positive association between high performing systems and selective entry requirements for primary teacher education. The Report maintains that low performing teachers in the earlier years of schooling have a detrimental impact on pupil outcomes in the longer-term. The Report also highlights that Singapore, South Korea, Finland and Hong Kong - countries with records of high levels of attainment in international assessments (see Appendix 3) - recruit teachers from the top third of their graduate cohort, although it should be noted that there is no evidence of a direct causal link between the two factors.

4.3 Research on the impact of testing as a means of regulating entry to the profession is inconclusive. Few jurisdictions operate tests to regulate entry to the profession; those that do include Finland, England and the USA. Prospective teachers in England are required to pass computer-based skills tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT. Forty-one US states require prospective teachers to pass licensure tests. However there is considerable variation in what is tested (basic skills, pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge), how it is tested (multiple choice, open-ended questions, portfolios or performance-based measures), and the required minimum performance (Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality, 2000). A review of research evidence on the effectiveness of testing policies reports, 'there is currently little evidence available about the extent to which widely used teacher licensure tests distinguish between candidates who are minimally competent to teach and those who are not' (ibid.: 3).

4.4 Where testing systems operate they have been challenged on equity issues. Records of US licensure tests show lower success rates for black and Hispanic candidates, impeding policies to widen access to the profession. In a review of UK and US research literature on widening access to initial teacher education, Moran (2008) notes that many dimensions of teacher effectiveness, especially those associated with successful practice in high needs schools, are not reliably indicated by tests of academic ability.

Partnership arrangements with schools

4.5 Research evidence indicates that despite the high value attached to collaboration, most school-university teacher education partnerships remain HEI-led (Furlong et al, 2000; Menter et al, 2006a) (see Table 3 for international examples of partnership in teacher education). Edwards and Mutton (2007) note that a strong policy emphasis on partnership working does not of itself establish parity of involvement in the development of practice across institutional boundaries. Reflecting on professional learning within a six-year school-university partnership in England, McLaughlin and Black-Hawkins (2004:282) note, "If the creation and dissemination of knowledge beyond the individual teacher is to be an aim and is to happen, then shifts and changes in the structures, roles and relationships of both universities and schools are demanded."

Table 3. Partnership in Teacher Education: international examples

? Separate roles

Focus on pedagogic relationships

? Collaboration ?

Distinct roles, centralised

Teacher education in Singapore involves a partnership between the Ministry of Education, the National Institute of Education (the sole provider of ITE) and schools. The NIE and schools have clearly defined roles in a move towards school-based provision from 1999.

Schools liaise with one Supervision Coordinator, who has responsibly for all trainees across several schools in a particular locality. NIE supervision focuses on quality assurance across schools and does not provide subject specific mentoring.

The grading of candidates is jointly decided. The school principal chairs a Practicum Assessment Panel. Trainees are allocated to schools by the Ministry of Education.

School placements are not coordinated by the NIE. Increased responsibility for ITE among schools has raised some issues regarding the training and support for teacher-mentors (Wong and Chuan, 2002).

Reflection on practice

The University of Utrecht, Netherlands, offers a model of teacher education that emphasises the integration of theory and practice (Korthagen, 2001).

Three principles underpin the model of Realistic Teacher Educationi.e. professional learning is more effective when: (a) directed by the needs of the learner; (b) rooted in their experiences; and, (c) involves critical reflection on experience.

Whilst emphasising the role of reflection in integrating theory and practice, the work of the Utrecht group has been criticised by Hagger and McIntyre (2006:153) for under-emphasising the professional knowledge and expertise of teacher mentors. In this respect, expertise in the initial teacher education partnership is seen to rest with the universities.


Practical school experience forms a significant component of initial teacher education in Finland. Universities operate teaching schools (Normal schools), which enable a close alignment of university and school experience.

Ostinelli (2009) reports that attainment by Finnish students is related to the centrality of education studies and a research-based approach in Finnish teacher education.

Research by Maaranen and Krokfors (2008) maintains that formal positioning of teaching as a research-informed profession helps to integrate theoretical and practical components of teacher education.

Local collaboration

Professional Development Schools ( PDS) in the US promote strong collaborative partnerships at a local level but are limited as a model for system-wide change.

PDS have three core purposes: supporting pupil achievement; improvement of pre-service teacher education and professional development for all educators; and the promotion of practice-based enquiry.

PDS can involve the co-design of teacher education curricula and increase the direct involvement of HEIs in school reform efforts (Mitchell and Castenelli, 2000; Molseed, 2000; Morris et al, 2003).

A distinctive feature is the formation of 'instructional teams' of mentees, school-based mentors and university tutors. Some PDS models - such as that established by the University of Colorado - have created 'master teacher' roles with no class teaching, to take a lead role in school-based teacher education (Utley et al, 2003).

Large -scale collaboration

School-university partnerships in Australia have a long trajectory, influenced by the work of Carr and Kemmis (1988), and in the 1990s the Innovative Links and National Professional Development Program, involving 14 Australian universities working with over 100 schools (Grundy et al, 2003). The notion of the 'scholarly teacher' informs research pathways within pre-service teacher education programmes (Diezmann, 2005), the formation of teacher research networks aimed at improving teacher competencies and enhancing pupil outcomes (Peters, 2002; Deppeler, 2006) and the development of inquiry-oriented ITE programmes (Ponte et al, 2004).

Mentoring newly qualified, returning and pre-service teachers and those needing professional support is a feature of the draft Standards for accomplished and lead teachers in Australia.

4.6 The National Partnership Project in England ( NPP) (2001-2005), funded by the TDA, sought to increase the capacity and quality of schools' involvement in initial teacher education in England. The NPP, delivered through nine regions, provided funding for a range of small-scale innovation projects. These included: mentor training; development of school-based training materials; outreach work with partnership schools; dissemination events; and projects to harmonise procedures between schools and ITE providers (Campbell et al, 2007). In their evaluation of the National Partnership Project Furlong et al (2008) note tension between 'collaboration' and centralisation of 'control' over partnership work in England. Furlong et al (2008:318) conclude that whilst new partnerships with schools have expanded capacity and addressed the problem of teacher supply, this has produced a form of teacher education that is 'almost entirely practically oriented. The essential contributions of higher education to professional formation - the consideration of research, of theory and of critique - all of these have been expunged as important components of professional education.'

4.7 There are few high quality studies that have examined the specific contribution of the partnership school in school-university ITE partnerships. Moyles and Stuart (2003) conducted a systematic review of evidence relating to how school-based elements of partnership support trainee teachers' professional development. In a review of English language reports of research conducted in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and Europe published between 1992 and 2002, Moyles and Stuart (2003) identified only two in-depth studies. The weight of evidence from these studies was judged to be low. Both of the included studies highlighted the value of communication in developing professional skills: (1) Baird (1996) identified the importance of regular verbal and written feedback by teacher mentors to student teachers; and (2) Mills (1995) reported positive outcomes from paired school experiences.

4.8 The distinctive contribution of higher education to teacher education has been the focus of research in England as the involvement of schools has increased. A questionnaire by Williams and Soares (2000) explored university tutor, teacher-mentor and student teacher perceptions of the university role in postgraduate secondary ITE. The findings indicate little support from teacher mentors for relinquishing links with higher education institutions or extending the training role of schools. Teacher mentors valued the contribution made by universities to administrative arrangements, quality and standards, and the availability of expertise in relation to research. Similarly, case study research by Burn (2006: 257) identified a complementary role for universities.

4.9 Some research studies in England have noted that teacher education is marginalised in expressions of schools' core concerns. Child and Merrill (2003) note that teacher development is not considered in schools' strategic plans for improvement. Research by Price and Willett (2006) indicates that many headteachers in England do not consider the CPD potential of ITE involvement and are not encouraged to give ITE a prominent place in School Development Plans. School leaders were not asked about ITE in school inspection and did not record ITE involvement as a form of CPD. Where additional funding is allocated to schools for innovation, comparatively few resources go to CPD (Penney and Houlihan, 2003; Yeomans et al, 2000; Ofsted, 2001).

4.10 The pedagogical contribution of school-based teacher educators in England requires further consideration if ITE coordinators are to assume the role envisioned in collaborative models of partnership (Mutton and Butcher, 2007, 2008).

Mentoring, Induction and Early Professional Development

4.11 Post-qualification induction is an important stage within the continuum of professional learning. Induction standards have been specified in North America (Scott, 2001; Shields et al., 2001; Youngs, 2002), New Zealand (Piggot-Irvine et al, 2009); Scotland (Draper and O'Brien, 2006; McNally, 2002), Northern Ireland (Moran et al, 1999; ETI, 2004; Abbott et al, 2009) and England (Totterdell et al, 2003; Harrison et al, 2005). Induction periods across Europe range from ten months to two years (European Commission, 2010).

4.12 A systematic review of research literature on induction found 'strong support for claims that induction improves teaching effectiveness and promotes new teachers' sense of wellbeing' (Totterdell et al, 2004:2). This review noted that effective induction systems attend not only to the development needs of newly qualified teachers, but also provide support for mentor teachers and school leaders. Successful mentoring requires adequate release time to support the role, in addition to opportunities for face-to-face meetings with mentees. Case studies of exemplary induction practice highlight the significance of access to a 'community' or 'family' of professional support for provisionally registered teachers (Piggot-Irvine et al, 2009).

4.13 Whilst most studies indicate potential benefits associated with effective mentoring, some studies continue to report variable quality in mentoring practices and mentor preparation (Jones, 2002, 2005; Jones et al, 2002; Harrison et al 2005; Bubb and Earley, 2006; Bubb et al 2005). The Newly Qualified Teacher Quality Improvement study (2008), a large-scale study funded by the Training and Development Agency ( TDA) for Schools found that the experiences of Newly Qualified Teachers ( NQTs) regarding induction are often less comprehensive than members of the school Senior Leadership Team ( SLT) believe.

4.14 Research by Carter and Francis (2001) on workplace learning in New South Wales, Australia, suggests that effective learning for beginning teachers is linked to induction into a vibrant collective learning culture in a school supported by partnership with a university. The beginning teacher-mentor survey and case studies undertaken through this research suggest that internships are potentially important components of ITE but require sustained and sophisticated collaboration between universities, schools and education systems.

4.15 Howe (2006) reviewed induction programmes in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United States and concluded that the best approaches were based on:

  • individualised induction plans and funding for mentor training;
  • development of partner schools for more extended periods of induction - mixed between HEI and schools in the first year followed by more intensive school-based elements in second year;
  • reduction in responsibilities in addition to reduction in teaching workload - time for reflection;
  • development of an organisational culture in which there is collaborative exchange involving a range of professionals aimed at supporting newly qualified teachers;
  • separation of the support and assessment functions of induction.

4.16 Several studies highlight the importance of establishing formal mentoring relationships in the workplace, including effective selection and preparation of school-based mentors (Bullough, 2005; Hobson et al, 2009b). Effective mentors ensure an adequate degree of challenge, possess subject expertise, and support mentees' critical interrogation of practice (Smith and Ingersoll, 2004; Harrison et al, 2006; Hobson et al, 2007).

4.17 The international research literature associates mentoring with positive outcomes for mentor teachers (Hobson et al, 2009b). Huling and Resta (2001) report that formal mentor training can support professional growth for mentors in three areas: personal pedagogical improvement; enhanced professional exchange with peers; and leadership development. Lopez-Real and Kwan (2005) report that 70% of mentors involved in school-university initial teacher training ( ITT) partnership programmes in Hong Kong claimed to have benefited professionally from mentoring through engagement in critical reflection and professional dialogue. Mentor accounts reported by Hagger and McIntyre (2006) suggest an increase in collaboration and reduction in professional isolation. Simpson et al (2007) identify benefits in terms of the exchange of new ideas and practices. Hobson et al (2007) note that some teachers are 're-energised' and 're-engaged' with the profession through the adoption of a mentoring role in school.

4.18 Research studies examining the impact of the influential Santa Cruz New Teacher Programme ( SCNTP), established in 1988, report retention rates of 88% after six years, compared with a national rate of 56% (Moir et al, 2009). The SCNTP provides mentor support from experienced teachers (with an average of 17 years teaching experience) who are released full time from teaching duties (for a period of two to three years) to mentor newly qualified teachers in their first year of professional practice. Systematic mentor training is provided for initial preparation and continues through weekly mentor forums and professional development planning. A rigorous selection process is undertaken involving school leaders, district administrators and unions. Support for new teachers generally includes approximately two hours mentoring each week and specifically arranged seminar groups focusing on various topics such as pedagogy and assessment and working with school data. Based on evidence from programme evaluation, including analysis of mentor interview transcripts and State retention data, Moir and Bloom (2003:1) maintain that , 'mentoring offers veteran teachers professional replenishment, contributes to the retention of the region's best teachers, and produces teacher leaders with the skills and passion to make lifelong teacher development central to school culture'.

4.19 A three-year evaluation of the Early Professional Development ( EPD) Pilot Scheme in England (Moor et al, 2005a) reported that mentoring at an early career stage had a positive impact on mentees' teaching practice, career development, and commitment to the teaching profession. The EPD evaluation reported 'strong evidence that the early professional development of teachers had led to them becoming more effective members of their school communities' (Moor et al, 2005a: iv). This study is one of the few UK studies to assert a link with pupil gains. Reporting survey findings from year 3 of the evaluation, Moor et al (2005a:iv) maintain that 'more than three-quarters of teachers and mentors indicated that EPD had considerably enhanced pupils' learning' (ibid).

4.20 The evidence base on the effectiveness of different approaches to mentor preparation and the relative effectiveness of different mentoring strategies is limited (Hobson et al, 2009). The majority of studies are based on self-report accounts from mentees' and mentors offered in survey responses and participation in interviews, with a lack of observational research or research employing quasi-experimental designs. However, the challenges of operationalising control or comparison groups in educational research are well documented and this explains the scarcity of research that attempts to link induction arrangements with student achievement (Young, 2006; 2009).

Continuing Professional Development

4.21 Career-long professional learning to improve retention and sustain teacher quality has been found to be desirable (Day, 2002; Day et al, 2007; Brighouse, 2008; Niemi, 2008a,b). Initial preparation is insufficient to meet teachers' professional learning needs throughout their careers. Longitudinal research through the VITAE project ( Variations in Teachers' Work, Lives and their Effects on Pupils) (2001-2005) drew attention to factors affecting teachers' work lives and the need to ensure the on-going commitment, motivation and effectiveness of teachers across the professional life course (Day et al, 2005; Day et al, 2006a, b; Day and Gu, 2007; Gu and Day, 2007; Sammons et al, 2007). The VITAE project was funded by the Department for Education and Skills and jointly conducted by the School of Education, University of Nottingham and the Institute of Education, University of London. The four year project involved 300 primary and secondary teachers in 100 schools in seven local education authorities in England (Day et al, 2007).

4.22 Site-based professional development activities include peer coaching, mentoring, modelling, observing and providing feedback to others. Practice is most likely to be enhanced in a lasting way when decisions about CPD policy and practice consider the social context for adult learning and allow for richer learning experiences than are usually offered in short courses based on a developmental model of skills acquisition (Kelly, 2006).

4.23 Contemporary thinking on CPD indicates that it is most effective when it fits existing school culture, is peer-led, collaborative and sustained (beyond one term) (Cordingley et al, 2003 ; Boyle et al, 2005; Bubb and Earley, 2009; Goodall et al, 2005; Cordingley et al, 2005; Cordingley et al, 2007; Timperley et al, 2007; Lord et al, 2008; Darling Hammond et al, 2009). For example, following a review of experimental studies, Darling Hammond et al (2009:9) conclude that 'sustained and intensive professional learning for teachers is related to student-achievement gains'. Programmes with between 30 and 100 contact hours over six to 12 months showed a significant positive effect on student outcomes. Programmes of less than 14 hours in total showed no statistically significant effect on student learning.

4.24 Bolam and Weindling (2006) analysed evidence from 20 projects concerned with capacity-building through teachers' professional development: five systematic reviews, six studies using surveys and case studies and nine evaluation studies published between 2002 and 2006. Nine studies were judged to provide strong evidence to inform policy. There is 'strong' evidence in support of collaborative CPD and CPD designed to meet the needs of teachers at different career stages; and 'fairly strong' evidence for increased effectiveness where teachers have ownership of professional development. Bolam and Wiendling's review (2006) indicates that CPD can make a positive contribution to teachers' knowledge and skill, motivation and morale. Few studies attempt to provide evidence of improved pupil performance.

4.25 A systematic review by Cordingley et al (2007) explored how teachers can be supported in their CPD with the help of specialist expertise. Approaches identified as enhancing the effectiveness of CPD included interviewing participants to establish 'individual starting points' and tailoring CPD to address particular needs. The review noted that effective CPD combined innovative specialist input with an ongoing programme of school-based support. Formal 'input' was described to be 'extensive and sustained' with peer support available. Effective CPD was described as 'self-directing' i.e. specialists ensured that practitioners had a level of autonomy as they developed and applied new learning to their practice.

4.26 A systematic review of the impact of thinking skills programmes linked changes in teachers' classroom practice with teachers' engagement in inquiry-oriented CPD (Baumfield et al, 2005). This review reported that teachers developed more productive questioning strategies, improved pupil grouping practices, and showed increased flexibility in planning and assessment. Baumfield et al (2005) identified four studies where the role of university researchers as co-inquirers and critical friends promoted change in teachers' practices that were associated with improved outcomes for pupils, particularly improved problem solving and understanding of concepts (Fennema et al, 1996; Franke et al, 1998; Hojnacki and Grover, 1992; Zohar, 1999).

4.27 Few research studies have examined the relationship between characteristics of professional development and change in teachers' practice in the longer-term. A questionnaire by Boyle et al (2004) investigated the professional development of primary and secondary teachers across England. In this self-report study, 77% of the 779 participants in longer-term professional development activities reported making changes to at least one aspect of their practice as a result of involvement in CPD. Change most commonly occurred in relation to planning (51%), teaching style (43%) and assessment practices (40%). Observation of colleagues and sharing practice were the most common longer-term development activities. Coaching' and 'research inquiry' were rated as the most effective activities (Boyle et al , 2005).

4.28 Alignment between individual professional learning needs and school development is not always strong and can be enhanced through collaboration with external partners. Powell at al (2003) report that school-level dissemination of teacher learning from accredited CPD is often informal and ad hoc, rather than strategic and embedded. Bolam and Wiendling (2006) note that balancing national, school and individual needs is problematic. The majority of teachers in a study by Hustler et al (2003) reported that school development needs took precedence over their individual learning needs. In their evaluation of the CPD partnership project (2004-05) involving 26 local education authorities ( LEAs), the General Teaching Council for England and the Department for Education and Skills, Moor et al (2005b) found that collaboration between schools and LEAs contributed towards 'greater understanding of the CPD needs of particular groups of teachers; greater awareness of how to identify training needs, in turn leading to more tailored and effective CPD provision' (p. iv).

4.29 A variety of programmes have developed in recent years to address the development needs of headteachers (Menter et al, 2005; Reeves et al, 2003). Woods et al (2009) note that headteachers in post for two years or less prioritised CPD that addressed the technical challenges of the job. Experienced headteachers valued professional development focused on building leadership capacity at all levels. Moorman and Pont (2007) identified a need for professional development programmes for headteachers from the middle years of headship. Based on interviews with 14 experienced headteachers, Stroud (2006) identified a demand for personalised programmes of coaching and mentoring involving heads in shaping their own professional development.

4.30 The findings from Teaching and Learning International Survey ( OECD, 2009) suggest that effective school leadership makes an important contribution to the development of other teachers in school. School leaders who demonstrate strong instructional leadership are more likely to use further professional development to address teachers' weaknesses, foster better student-teacher relations and teacher collaboration, and recognise teachers for innovative teaching practices. Drago-Severson (2007) has identified four strategies used by leaders to support teacher learning: teaming; providing leadership roles for teachers; collaborative inquiry and reflective practice; and mentoring. Research suggests that leadership preparation programmes are better aligned to support school and curriculum reform where there is a clear focus on the technical and adaptive dimensions of change (Murphy et al, 2008; Fullan, 2009).

Collaborative approaches to curriculum design and evaluation

4.31 Teacher education curricula need to reflect the changing needs of the school system. The modern professional role involves an extended set of competencies including teaching an increasingly diverse range of learners, values education, literacy and numeracy across the curriculum, using assessment data effectively, engaging in action research and self-review, collaborating in school teams (including inter-agency working) and integrating technology effectively (Crocker and Dibbon, 2008; Finnish Institute for Educational Research, 2009; Calder and Grieve, 2004)

4.32 School and curriculum reform need to be congruent with reform of teacher education (see 4 overleaf). Increased flexibility to adapt the curriculum and classroom instruction to meet individual needs places greater demands on teachers' pedagogical competence. Addressing educational priorities requires a system-level approach (Moorman and Nusche, 2007).

Recognising accomplished teachers

4.33 Concern with teacher quality across the career phases has focused attention internationally on policy levers to incentivise and support the continuing professional development of experienced teachers (Hinds, 2002; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Kleinhenz and Ingvarson, 2004; Ingvarson, 2008). One strategy to enhance teacher quality is the creation of standards and assessments for the certification of accomplished teachers. This is evident in North America in (voluntary) National Board certification ( NBPTS, 2002; National Research Council, 2008), and also in Australia in the proposed 'accomplished' and 'lead teacher' grades ( AEEYSOC, 2010; Ingvarson, 2010). In the UK, grades and attendant pay scales have been created to recognise and reward accomplished teachers. These vary according to different arrangements for the governance and regulation of teacher education across the UK and include the Advanced Skills Teacher ( AST) and Excellent Teacher grades in England ( TDA, 2007), the pilot chartered teacher programme in Wales (Egan, 2009) and the Scottish chartered teacher programme ( GTCS, 2009). Singapore, Japan and South Korea all also offer forms of advanced certification.

4.34 The research literature contains mixed messages about the impact of current schemes recognising accomplished teachers. The evidence base on National Board certification in the United States suggests some positive outcomes in terms of teacher learning (especially in terms of formative assessment practice) and pupil gains (Vandevoort et al, 2004; Cavalluzzo, 2004; Cantrell et al, 2007; Goldhaber and Anthony, 2007; Petty et al, 2007; Sato et al, 2008; National Research Council, 2008). Other studies suggest positive contributions to the professional learning of others including appointment to promoted posts, mentor, cooperating teacher, instructional coach and staff facilitator roles; and participation in school-based and networked professional learning activities (Frank et al, 2008; Lustick and Sykes, 2006; Sykes et al, 2006; Park et al 2007; Gareis and Nussbaum-Beach, 2007).

4.35 However, the research base is not uniformly positive. Researchers have challenged the relationship between innovative pedagogy and pupil gains, the possibilities for teacher leadership in hierarchical school cultures and accreditation of 'accomplishment' through Board certification assessment processes (Rouse, 2008; Silver et al, 2009; Ballou, 2003). Equity issues have been raised regarding the distribution of accomplished teachers; little evidence indicates that pay rewards increase teacher mobility to high needs schools (Koppich, Humphrey and Hough, 2006; Goldhaber, Perry and Anthony, 2004).

Table 4. Collaborative approaches to curriculum design and evaluation: international examples





New Zealand

Curriculum reform in Finland from 1994 has increased teachers' participation in curricular-decision making and enabled the construction of school-specific policies (Hansen, 1998). All teachers are afforded opportunities to work together for joint planning and evaluation of practice. One afternoon each week is protected, without timetabled classes, to facilitate systematised collaboration and joint work.

A research-orientation to teacher education and curriculum development is encouraged through links between schools, universities and development organisations such as the national LUMA Centre.

An evaluation of the LUMA project, which aimed to raise standards in maths and science, noted the significance of teacher-to-teacher collaboration and inter-school cooperation in sustaining motivation and sharing innovative approaches to teaching and learning (Allen et al, 2002).

In 2005 the Ministry of Education and Research launched the national Program for School Development, which was expanded in 2007 to become The Knowledge Promotion Reform. This curriculum reform gave teachers more freedom over choice of teaching methods.

A key feature of the reform was the promotion of collaborative work to build schools' capacity for organisational change.

Drawing on the established literature on 'learning organisations', a research strand was built in to the reform effort to support evidence-informed change: the National Programme for Practice-based Research and Development. Through this program, teacher education institutions initiate research and development activities with and for teachers and schools. Many development projects involve practitioners directly in conducting research and setting research priorities (Salo et al, 2008).

The relationship between higher education and schools in terms of curriculum development is advanced through the work of The Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development ( SLO). SLO has over thirty years experience in the development and exchange of curricula information. SLO staffs translate research-based educational innovation into products and services that are of use in everyday school practice and that address problems felt in that practice.

There is much to be learned from the collaborative approach to 'educational design research' advanced by SLO (van den Akker et al, 2006). Design research is an iterative process, involving analysis, design and formative evaluation of prototypes, before 'up-scaling' innovations proven to be effective. Teachers work with researchers to field test curricula materials, contributing to research-based improvement of professional practice.

Targeted interventions to promote teacher change and professional growth in Australia include the Victorian Teacher Renewal Partnership programme (2001-04), which involved external facilitators (from Deakin University or subject associations) working on innovation projects with 50 schools (Perry et al, 2002).

The University of Newcastle teacher education program draws on the New South Wales Quality Teaching model to offer an integrated approach: co-design of curriculum content with teachers and university teacher educators; joint work with teachers in schools to support professional development; support for teacher research; and teacher education students' work with academics and students from other disciplines, including social work.

In New Zealand, evolution of responsibility for curriculum decisions to schools has been accompanied by the introduction of National Standards in 2010 for reading, writing, and mathematics for the first eight years at school. Assessment data from 2010 will be used to set school-wide targets for student achievement.

The teacher Inquiry and knowledge building cycle articulated by Timperley et al (2007) has informed the development of self-review tools for teachers.

Cycles of teacher self-review are organised through the following five themes:

What are our students' strengths and learning needs?

What are our professional strengths and learning needs?

Engagement in professional learning.

Engagement of students in new learning.

What has been the impact of our changed actions on students?

4.36 A review of the deployment of ASTs in England has highlighted the need for training to support the teacher developer role of ASTs, especially in regard to leading in-service and effective outreach work (Ofsted, 2003). Taylor and Jennings (2004:23) recommend that: advanced practitioner roles form part of a 'career in education' and should not be seen as 'an alternative to school leadership'; outreach roles should not be seen as 'remedial' (supporting 'failing' teachers) but offer opportunities for pedagogic leadership.

4.37 Adoption of the AST model in Wales, following a review of the two-year pilot of the Welsh chartered teacher scheme (2007-09), is currently under consideration by the Welsh Assembly Government. An evaluation of the pilot, conducted by Egan (2009), has drawn attention to the need for greater clarity in relation to 'middle leadership' to promote distributed forms of leadership.

Professional development of teacher educators

4.38 Scant attention has focused on the professional learning of teacher educators and the contribution they can make to curriculum change, whether they are school-based or university-based. Nixon et al (2000), among others, have argued that universities need to commit to the professional renewal of both school teachers and university-based teacher educators. Teacher educators commonly enter higher education as a second career. Concern has been expressed about the variable quality of professional induction and strategies to support CPD for teacher educators, including the development of a research identity (Murray, 2005, 2008a/b; Murray and Male, 2005)

4.39 There is some disparity between the promotion of research-informed teaching on the one hand, and concerns about the capacity of teacher educators to engage in and with high quality applied and practice-based research. In the move towards school-based teacher education, the partnership between university-based and school-based teacher educators achieves greater prominence. Murray (2008b:118) maintains that teacher educators remain an 'under-researched and poorly understood occupational group'

4.40 International research studies report shared concerns about the professional learning of teacher educators (Swennen and Bates, 2010). A study of induction practices in six countries undertaken by members of the Association of Teacher Educators in Europe did not find any examples of satisfactory experiences among a sample of 9 novice teacher educators (van Veltzen et al, 2010). Only one country, Israel, offers national level professional support for novice teacher educators, which is provided through the MOFET Institute (Ben-Peretz et al, 2010).

4.41 Drawing on an established body of work in the UK, Murray (2010:197) contends that strategies to address the professional learning needs of teacher educators are imperative for a number of reasons including 'ensuring thriving teacher education communities, maintaining research-informed teaching in pre- and in-service courses for teachers, and contributing to the building of capacity in the broad field of education research'.

Implications for Scottish teacher education

Entry requirements

  • Available evidence suggests that entry tests are not always effective in discriminating between prospective candidates competence to teach. Whilst education systems that perform well in international assessments often have selective entry requirements, there is no evidence of a direct link between teachers' academic calibre and pupil performance.


  • Partnerships need to resource CPD for school staff working with student teachers so that they develop skills in guiding, supporting and evaluating the professional capacities of student teachers and offer opportunities to contribute to curricula design and evaluation.


  • Effective mentoring programmes require investment in mentor selection, training and support. Some local authorities in Scotland have put in place systematic mentoring processes adapted from the New Teacher Center Santa Cruz.
  • Research suggests variable quality in practice where formal mentoring arrangements are standard. The involvement of universities in induction support extends opportunities for teacher-mentors and mentees and can inform the review and improvement of pre-service teacher education programmes.

Continuing Professional Development

  • Issues highlighted in the research include consideration of how to extend and integrate mentoring and coaching as a feature of CPD across the career course and how to promote deeper understandings of CPD informed by a professional learning perspective.
  • There is a need for greater differentiation of CPD to address specific needs at different stages and locations; and closer alignment between CPD planning and school development planning.

Collaborative approaches to curriculum design

  • Research and evidence-informed approaches to the improvement of professional practice are supported by sustained collaboration between teachers and researchers and partnership work between the various bodies involved in curriculum development and teacher development.

Accomplished teachers

  • Evaluations of the Advanced Skills Teacher role in England and the pilot Chartered Teacher programme in Wales suggest that the leadership role of 'accomplished teachers' requires development.

Professional development of teacher educators

  • Building the capacity of teacher educators to engage in high quality research and scholarship is a continuing priority and challenge for Schools of Education in Scottish universities. Advances have been made through collaborative approaches to capacity building in the Applied Educational Research Scheme ( AERS) and continue to be advanced through the work of the Scottish Educational Research Association ( SERA).
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