So we have the blank slate, the space and freedom to change the curriculum. Where next? And where does research enter the picture, you may be wondering? The Chartered Teacher scheme died a death in 2011, but before that, in 2010, Graham Donaldson, who is a major figure in Scottish education and former head of HMI, which we still have, published a report, Teaching Scotland’s’ Future, making some ambitious claims to transform Teacher training in Scotland and, subsequently, professional development in general.
Scattered throughout the report are references to Masters study from the beginning of every teacher’s career. He doesn’t go so far as to say that Teaching should be a Masters only profession but he doesn’t stop too far away.
‘Masters level credit should be built into ITE qualifications, induction year activities and CPD beyond, with each NQT having a Masters Account opened for them.’ p.76
Graham Donaldson 2010 Teaching Scotland’s Future
He recognises the need for every teacher to engage in academic Masters level research. He suggests that all new teachers have a ‘Masters’ account opened as they enter the classroom and they will be expected to add to that as their career continues.
‘Evidence suggests that CPD is often evaluated in terms of the quality of provision, rather than the impact on improving outcomes for learners’ p. 63
And here’s the thing. Here’s my big point. We can talk about what we’ve to teach, even how we’ve to teach but if the teachers coming out of training college are no better than we had then how can things change? I’m an English teacher. Some days I’m a genius, you should carry me round the town square shoulder high in celebration. Absolutely brilliant. On other days I can be terrible. Should never be allowed back in the classroom. But, on most days, I’m very good. That’s where excellence comes from. The consistency of very good.
But I teach 150 kids every day. I mark their books. I prepare 24 lessons out of 30 every week. Like most teachers I have very little time for research. My initial training didn’t prepare me for that, didn’t expect it of me. I seek events like this out. I go to teach meets which can be very good, mostly are. I helped develop Pedagoo which is a fabulous organisation.
I turn up to events because I’m a bit weird. No offence but if England is anything like Scotland we are a drop in the ocean. And I think that ocean indicates the difficulties in a changing anything in teaching.
What I hope Donaldson’s recommendations will begin is a slow revolution in Teacher Training where, eventually, every teacher is Masters educated. Where the academic rigour excepted of every teacher THROUGHOUT their careers attracts the smartest people in the room. That teaching is no longer a rest home for the indifferent or a haven for those who couldn’t do anything else or were too frightened to leave the comfort and institutionalised environment of school.
And, slowly perhaps, we begin to change the make up of the teachers who enter classrooms of every school in Scotland. Teachers whose practice is underpinned by academic research alongside rigorous lesson study. Teachers who can smell the bullshit of edubabble and can spot an educational turkey a mile away; who recognise that, in general, all collegiality in schools is contrived; who take responsibility for increasing the standards, for raising the bar, for putting and end to the excuses for low expectations. Poverty is a terrible blight on any society but the cries of ‘at least she got something’ when a kid manages to pass one exam at the lowest level is an even greater stain on that society. Let’s stop shrugging our shoulders accepting that.
Edwin Morgan again:
What do the people want of the CURRICULUM? They want it to be
filled with thinking persons as open and adventurous as its
A nest of fearties is what they do not want.
A symposium of procrastinators is what they do not want.
A phalanx of forelock-tuggers is what they do not want.
And perhaps above all the droopy mantra of ‘it wizny me’ is
what they do not want.
Our new curriculum can change this.