Monday, June 29, 2009

Master's degrees for newly qualifieds?

It is reported in the Independent this morning that, in an effort to raise standards in the classroom, the government is now going to offer a free Master's degree to 5,000 newly qualified teachers. One of the principal targets of this initiative is the four hundred schools still failing to get more than 30% of their pupils to pass five good GCSEs, including maths and English.
The government is to allocate £30 million to the programme, which, to begin with, is to be rolled out in the north-west.
What most people would like to know is: why aren't trainee teachers being taught the basics of classroom management, curriculum design and teaching methodology when studying for their first degree?

6 comments:

  1. Totally agree John. And why don't they use the existing professionals who already have a Masters degrees (and Doctorates),for example, Educational Psychologists to support schools, to support schools to raise standards in the classroom?
    DL

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  2. And how do you guarantee that a Masters programme is going to be any more successful at it than a first degree? Anyway, isn't it the teachers who have been teaching for a few years and have been too busy planning, teaching, meeting targets, etc to keep up-to-date on recent research who need to be encouraged to go back and be refreshed and revitalised?

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  3. Too true, DL, yet herein lies part of the problem.
    When I qualified as a teacher, I taught for three years and then did the Inner London Education Authority course on 'Teaching slow learning and difficult children' (TOSLADIC). Several years later I went to the Institute of Education to learn about the role of language in education. And, do you know, although I could tell you about the work of Vygotsky and Bruner, I never learned a thing about how to improve the children's reading.
    What I'm saying is that lots of PhDs and people with Masters degrees don't know how to teach basic literacy.
    So, who is going to do the job? Policy Exchange advocates allowing schools to innovate and share tried and established good practice. Let's hope that the abandonment of the Strategies allows that to happen.

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  4. I agree, Gini. The thing about teachers who've been doing the job for a some years is that they have usually acquired Hemingway's famous 'crap detector'! They know when they're being given a lot of tosh, as when they attend a course and the first question the trainer asks is, 'What do you think? Let's brainstorm for ideas.'
    By the way, someone told me on the Northern Ireland course I was running last week that, in all her years of teaching, it was by far the best she had ever been on.

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  5. John said,"Policy Exchange advocates allowing schools to innovate and share tried and established good practice. Let's hope that the abandonment of the Strategies allows that to happen."

    Unfortunately John, what will happen is that schools will share their practice. But they all believe what they do is good practice, without any evidence as to whether it is or not. So lots of practice will be shared, most of it of very little use. If current practice in teaching literacy were good, then we wouldn't have 300000 effectively illiterate pupils leaving our schools every year!

    The encouraging bit is the allowance of innovation, but one suspects the twonks at Ofsted and the DCSF will stifle it.

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  6. Dear Anon,
    I've replied to your comment in the posting 'Replacing the Strategies...'
    Thanks for your responses to the blog.
    John

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