STNE End of Phase 2 executive summary

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Summary report of research conducted up to end of phase 2 of STNE initiative.

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STNE End of Phase 2 executive summary

  1. 1. Scottish Teachers for a New Era (STNE) is a collaborative six-year pilot project whichseeks to prepare ‘teachers for a new era’ able to face up to the challenges of knowledgeand learning in the twenty-first century. The programme’s aims include the creation ofan extended professional culture, the broadening of learning experiences, opportunities todevelop new and personal approaches to teaching and a broader conceptualisation ofpupil gains leading to improved teacher and pupil learning.End of Phase 2. Executive Summary2010 Programme and PlacementsPerceptions about the strengths of the programme and some of the areas that needed to be furtherdeveloped were conducted over the four years through interviews with students, tutors on the programme,teachers and Head Teachers. • Areas of strength in the programme include the focus on learning in the first two years, accompanied by peer working in the new field experience. Indications are that this produces very reflective and deep thinking students. These experiences are also viewed positively by students, teachers and tutors, although some teachers have difficulties in adapting to the new way of working. • A difficulty with the structure of the field experience is the limitation of the experience to only one day, and the same day each week. • The issue of first and second year electives across the wider University, which created some confusion in the early development of the programme, has been addressed to some extent and needs to be constantly monitored. Some of the issues related to conflict in timetabling with field experience as well as clarity of the purpose of the electives. • While there were mixed views about the new programme when it was first introduced, over time feedback from teachers was mainly positive about the rationale for the programme, with a few teachers expressing concerns about some specific elements, such as the traditional school experience being replaced by serial days in the 1st and 2nd year. • While positive about the rationale for the early field experiences, in years 1 and 2, many of the teachers continued to express concern about the length and timing of these experiences. These concerns were addressed as everyone involved became more familiar with the programme and it became possible to reconcile some of the timetabling issues created by wider elective choice in the first two years. This is being continuously monitored and further refinements are likely.
  2. 2. End of Phase 2. Executive Summary Programme and Placements (cont.)In order to familiarise teachers with the new STNE programme and the requirements of the students onplacement in all four years, CPD days were held for teachers hosting students. • Teachers on the whole benefited from these CPD events although there is a continued need to monitor what information is most appropriate to provide for the teachers at these events. • The handbook provided for the students and teachers was useful but views were expressed that it was too detailed in some respects and difficult to work through. • Consideration should be given to examining the structure and content of the handbook to make it easier for teachers to use. • Further clarification upon goals regarding the new placements should also be pursued both at the level of the partnership (see point below) and at the level of student-teacher relationship in the classroom. In this regard, attending to pragmatic matters related to timing and structure of placements is likely to have a positive impact on the development of the philosophy of the programme.Third and fourth year placements were more “traditional” in nature, being block periods in a school withthe expectations of the students seeming to be more in line with school experiences in previousprogrammes. • An on-going issue, which is constantly being re-visited and worked on, is the area of communication which includes feedback to students as well as communication among programme members and between the university and the schools. The involvement of so many stakeholders in the programme makes communication a key element that needs to be the best it can be. • To some extent communication is addressed through the development of effective partnership structures, considered in the third section. StudentsWith the caveat that, at the time of writing this report, this applies only to the first cohort passing throughthe programme, the final year students can be classified as having a robust view about knowledge andknowledge acquisition. • These students hold very strong preferences for ‘constructivist’ pupil centred approaches to teaching, a view that is aligned with the key messages, and ethos, that are found in the new STNE programme, but were also a key element of the previous B.Ed programmes in recent years. • There was a significant shift in student teachers’ overall epistemological belief, with participants reporting a more sophisticated belief about knowledge and learning at the end of their fourth year than they did in first year.
  3. 3. End of Phase 2. Executive Summary Students (cont.)While there is still the potential for much more research into students’ subject knowledge and the optimallevel of subject knowledge, as distinct from pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge, required bybeginning teachers, some evidence has been obtained about this in relation to the first cohort of STNEstudents. • In general the students held a relatively high level of mathematical knowledge, although this was, perhaps unsurprisingly, related to the qualification level held in mathematics on entry to the programme. • It was not possible to conduct any assessment of language, science or other disciplinary areas. However, the students were confident with their own subject knowledge in literacy and English, Health and Wellbeing, and Maths. They also felt confident to teach these subjects. • Compared with these three subjects, the students appeared to be less confident with their own subject knowledge in science and less confident to teach the subject. • Overall the students’ levels of confidence to teach subjects appeared to be higher than their own perceived confidence in knowledge about the subjects. This is perhaps related to the students’ perceptions of their own abilities to learn on the job and the focus on pedagogy and the teachers’ role in enabling children to learn independently, rather than as being transmitters of knowledge.The relationship between these students’ confidence and self-efficacy in teaching and impact on studentachievement has not as yet been measured, but research reported in the literature provides evidence thatteacher efficacy predicts teachers implementation of innovative programmes and student achievement.Thus we can have some degree of confidence that the new STNE programme is making significant progresson continual improvement in the design and implementation of initial teacher education, although there isthe need to have further monitoring of key disciplinary areas, such as mathematics, language and science. PartnershipThe STNE programme spans the complex landscape of ITE and early career professional learning, with aview to providing a continuum of support for new teachers. Therefore, a key element in programmedevelopment has been enhanced partnership working, building on existing strong links, with localauthorities and other important stakeholders, including representation from Head Teachers, GTCS,professional associations such as the EIS and other universities offering ITE.. Such activities have includedthe setting up of the working forum of the Promoting Partnership Team (PPT) and ongoing dialogue at theITE Partnership Forum meetings. In addition, there has been ongoing engagement with partners from localauthorities and schools in collaborative working groups for programme and course development.As elaborated in the Report, some of the outcomes of the partnership working, underpinned by evidencecollected as part of the integrated research strand of the project, have included: • the development, piloting and evaluation of a new Profile for Entry to the Teaching Profession; • needs targeted induction year events; • the development of a new MSc in Enhanced Professional Practice postgraduate degree programme; and • progress towards the development of a virtual resource and information hub for new teachers and all personnel involved in their support.
  4. 4. End of Phase 2. Executive Summary Further WorkWhile there are very clear signs of the very positive impact that the STNE initiative has had on students and localauthority partners, it is not surprising that in an initiative of this complexity there remain areas for continuedreview, evaluation and development. While many of these arose in the early stages of STNE and have beenaddressed to some extent, they require constant monitoring and adjustment. Perhaps one of the most formidableof these is the issue of communication amongst all the stakeholders both in terms of dissemination of informationand in relation to participation and exchange of ideas. The Promoting Partnership Team has made significantinroads in this area and CPD programmes for teachers have improved understanding of the aims of STNE, butthere still remains the need for continued consideration of innovative communication and participatory strategiesto allow for both inward and outward flow of information and ideas as well as the most appropriate form of CPDfor teachers, the needs of which are likely to change over time. Within the programme there remain logisticaldifficulties in the provision of wider university electives, as well as the need for continued consideration of therationale for selection and purpose of electives. Since the inception of the STNE programme furtherdevelopments in the University’s own Curriculum Reform programme has provided additional opportunities forengagement in wider university provision for Education students and some consideration needs to be given to thebest use of these for students to both broaden and deepen their experiences and knowledge.

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