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Teacher Training

Volume 87: debated on Friday 29 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a further statement about the postgraduate preservice training of teachers in Scotland.

Since my previous statement in response to my hon. Friend's question on 27 June 1984, the Government have taken significant steps towards improving the pre-service training of teachers and thus the overall quality of the teaching force. A major development at the start of the 1984–85 academic session was the introduction of new four-year BEd degree courses leading to a qualification for primary teaching, in replacement of the three-year primary diploma courses which are being phased out. The effect will be that primary teaching will in due course become an all-graduate profession.I have now decided that the other route to teaching in primary schools—the one-year postgraduate courses—should be revised in accordance with the principal recommendations contained in the final report of the working party on primary pre-service teacher training. The length of the courses will be extended from 32 to 36 weeks; the content will be improved to provide a coherent course with three main elements—school experience, professional studies and curriculum studies; and the courses will be externally validated. I consider that it will be practicable to make significant progress along the lines indicated by the working party without any overall increase in resources for education authorities or colleges of education. The colleges have already been given preliminary thought to the introduction of new courses on the basis of the broad guidelines in the report. I hope that they will now submit firm proposals so that the revised primary postgraduate courses may be introduced in the 1986–87 academic session.In July I received the report of an equivalent working party on secondary postgraduate courses which I established in September 1984. I have arranged for its publication today; copies have been placed in the Library. The main recommendations broadly mirror those of the primary working party, including an extension of the courses to 36 weeks. I welcome these recommendations and am inviting the colleges of education concerned to submit proposals with the object of introducing revised and extended secondary postgraduate courses in the 1987–88 session.The working party on secondary postgraduate courses recommended in addition that final registration of a secondary teacher with the General Teaching Council for Scotland should be dependent on a further four-week course at a college of education towards the end of the teacher's two-year probationary period. This is a radical suggestion, with implications for primary teachers also, which in my view requires more detailed consideration. I propose therefore to consult interested bodies on support and assessment arrangements for probationary teachers before making any change.I am very grateful to the members of both working parties for their reports. I am sure that the changes now in prospect will make a further important contribution towards enhancing the quality of teaching in Scottish schools.