The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) has been running a substantial programme of support to encourage the use of information technology as a teaching resource in initial teacher training. The standards for teachers, including the standards that trainee teachers have to meet to gain qualified teacher status (QTS), make specific references to ICT. To gain QTS a teacher must know how to use ICT to support their teaching and wider professional activities and be able to design opportunities for learners to develop their ICT skills. All trainee teachers have to pass skills tests in numeracy, literacy and ICT as a prerequisite of gaining QTS.
Over the past six years nearly £20 million has been made available to ensure that the new teachers leaving teacher training have the necessary skills to use ICT effectively in their teaching and in their professional development.
Initially, the funding was targeted at laptops for trainee teachers. Funding has also been provided for interactive whiteboards for teacher training establishments to mirror the substantial government investment in interactive whiteboards for schools. Funding and support was also directed to areas such as video capture and analysis. Several projects involving handheld technologies have been supported to test out the value of these in teacher training.
A number of alternative methods of video conferencing between teacher training institutions and schools have been tested. Several regional seminars run by the TDA jointly with the Government supported Janet Videoconferencing Service to provide advice to teacher trainers.
With support from the British Educational Suppliers Association and working in partnership with the IT in Teacher Education group there is now in place a special software licence for teacher trainers that recognises the particular nature of teacher training and allows a reduced cost for educational software. The TDA also has an agreement with eight major educational software companies that some of their software can be made available to teacher trainers at no cost.
The TDA is currently funding more than 100 small e-portfolio and research projects with teacher trainers. The Teacher Training Resource Bank has been established by the TDA to provide internet access for teacher training providers and trainees to the research and evidence base informing teacher education.
The TDA has provided support for teacher training in e-safety and helped develop support for trainee teachers in this area. A suite of e-safety materials are available to support e-safety with children including information and advice for parents. This material is being supplemented by an e-safety module, commissioned by the TDA, as part of the European Pedagogical ICT Certificate for teachers.