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'Teaching Scotland’s Future’– Key points for local groups

Following on from Graham Donaldson’s report ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ a ‘National Partnership Group’ (NPG) was set up to work out an action plan for implementing his recommendations. That group has now reported and passed the body of work over to a range of partners to implement. Some of the changes are quite significant and implementation is being pushed forward apace by a ‘National Implementation Board’ as reported in the last edition of Head to Head.

This article summarises some of the key issues arising for school leaders from the National Partnership Group report and poses some questions AHDS local groups may wish to consider or incorporate into discussions with their colleagues and directorate.

The NPG recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary covered three main areas:

Initial teacher education and early career development – The “Integrated Early Career Phase”

Career long professional learning

Leadership (including ‘Leadership Framework’ and ‘Qualifications for Educational Leadership’)

It also defined a new relationship between universities, schools and local authorities, legitimised via formal partnership agreements setting out the roles and responsibilities of all concerned. It is clear from the report that developing this partnership agreement has to include all three participants in the process: universities, local authorities and teachers.

Local AHDS groups should therefore seek to be involved in (or at least be consulted on) emerging partnership agreement/s between their LEA and university/ies.

Initial Teacher Education and Early Career Development

Schools will be at the forefront of a reconceptualised framework for ITE and probationership. The NPG report makes specific reference to the importance of school-based teacher training and learning, while also outlining a different approach to the   quality and content of the university based element, including the importance of experience outwith the school context.

Key proposals relating to this new approach are as follows:

Placements of students (and induction phase teachers) will be in schools that meet certain, as yet to be defined, quality standards.

The possibility of establishing “hub schools” as a means of promoting high quality professional learning will be further explored.

Students will be required to spend a significant amount of time studying in depth a particular academic area.

School based staff will have a prime role in the process of assessment of students and induction phase teachers.

Universities, schools and local authorities will have a closer relationship than hitherto, with the possibility of university staff having a more or less continuous presence in schools. Also, university based staff would be involved at all stages of the early career phase…not just in respect of students.

Funding supporting the new framework will require to be agreed between local authorities and universities.

School inspections will include a specific reference to the quality of support and assessment provided by schools to early phase teachers and students.

These proposals are significantly different from existing arrangements for the training

of students and probationers.

Key questions that AHDS members might wish to consider in discussions with colleagues or their directorate include:

What criteria are schools to be measured against in respect of the standards of quality required? Will the present quality assurance process be sufficient for this purpose?

What is the LEA’s view on the development of “hub schools?”

The assessment process is going to be biased towards “school based staff.” What does this expression mean? Teachers? Lecturers?

If teachers are going to be the main assessors [and it is by no means clear that they will be] how are associated training issues to be addressed?

Where does responsibility begin/end in terms of failing students/probationers?

There are clear issues relating to capacity, even if this just means “space” to accommodate additional staff in schools. How are the resources issues going to be addressed?

Will schools be required to evolve protocols for dealing with students/probationers that will take account of the partnership requirements or will these be provided by the local authority?

Career Long Professional Learning

AHDS has been closely involved in the developments relating to career long professional learning. In particular, the Association supports the need for renewed and revitalised processes for Professional Review and Development in all local authorities and sees this as integral to the GTC’s developing Professional Update framework.

Key proposals relating to such a revitalised PRD process include the following:

The development of effective mentoring and coaching roles within schools

High quality on-line learning tools, including the use of an e-portfolio for all teachers w.e.f. August 2013

A continuing role for universities in teacher education beyond the training phase

A concerted and continuous move towards a Masters Level profession

A recognition that all teachers have the need to develop leadership skills at an appropriate level

Sufficient time and opportunity for all teachers to engage properly in an enhanced PRD process. This to include reviewing the potential for research and advanced study, possibly to Master’s Level

All of these are laudable goals. They all fit well with the original recommendations contained within “Teaching Scotland’s Future” and , as has been mentioned above, AHDS has been making a significant contribution to the on-going debate. However…key questions that AHDS members might wish to consider in discussions with colleagues or their directorate include:

 How well do these proposals sit with current conditions of service?

Is there capacity within schools/local authorities to provide/train skilled coaches/mentors?

How well does the description of all teachers being leaders sit with current reality?

How feasible is it within the time scales given to ensure teacher e-access to university level educational materials?

What assumptions underpin calculations associated with the additional costs of developing and maintaining enhanced relationships with universities?

How will the capacity of schools be enhanced to provide the time and resources required for teachers to engage in professional research and development?

Leadership

There are three main factors relating to the concept of leadership as envisaged by the NPG. These have all been included within the Career Long Professional Development section of the report, but they are of sufficient interest to existing school leaders to warrant them individual treatment here.

A Framework for Educational Leadership.

The term “leadership framework” has been preferred by the NPG in its report rather than the original term used by Donaldson of “pathway.” This is in large part due to the perspective taken by the NPG that “leadership” needs can take a variety of forms depending on the stage of career the individual is at, the context they currently occupy and their future aspirations – a point made strongly by AHDS. It also is the case that this framework should permeate the system so that all teachers fit within it at a point to be determined via a process of “….professional development planning.”

Key questions that AHDS members might wish to consider in discussions with  colleagues or their directorate include:

How is the highly individualised approach outlined in the report to be managed?   How are all aspiring leaders, i.e. all teachers, to be supported, individually, in order to develop their leadership skills within a personalised framework?

As all teachers will be expected to have opportunities to lead colleagues, how can school leaders provide the context that will ensure that this can happen?

What plans are going to be in place to ensure that schools have the capacity and skills to provide this significantly upgraded system of CPD?

Qualifications for Educational Leadership

The report says….”Within five years all aspiring headteachers should have an appropriate qualification or professional award in leadership. Headteachers who do not hold a professional or academic award should work towards gaining such a qualification and there should be a presumption that this should happen in the vast majority of cases.”

Key questions that AHDS members might wish to consider in discussions with colleagues or their directorate include:

Recruitment of head teachers across the country has become increasingly difficult. What steps should be taken to ensure that this aspirational goal simply does not add to this problem?

A significant number of existing head teachers and other school leaders will not hold formal leadership qualifications such as the Scottish Qualification for Headship. What does the term “presumption” mean in this case? Does it mean “mandatory”?

Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL)

There is still considerable debate and work required to develop this beyond the concept stage; however, it is clear that the commitment is there for it to become reality and that, in whatever form it takes, it will be instrumental in maintaining the framework for educational leadership as well as acting as a portal for high quality leadership and learning opportunities.

Key questions that AHDS members might wish to consider in discussions with colleagues or their directorate include:

What shape/form of SCEL does the local authority favour? Should it have any physical entity?

What gatekeeping to access is envisaged?

How will access by teachers to SCEL fit with current CPD frameworks?

How will financial support for teacher access be managed?

AHDS will continue to engage on all these issues at the national level but as much of this will be implemented at Local Authority level it is crucial that AHDS local groups make the voice of school leaders heard. (If you would like support in developing your local group please contact your area officer – contact details above.)

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