23 May 2024

Teachers' professional body seeks 'radical system changes' for training

5:53 pm on 23 May 2024
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The Teaching Council wants to overhaul how teachers are taught and have higher entry requirements for the profession.

Teaching Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin has warned the "radical system changes" will cost and the government will need to make the "necessary financial commitment".

"The council believes teachers, both new and experienced, are passionate, dedicated and capable. But for too long they have been let down by a system that doesn't give them the structure or the resources they need."

Hoskin told Checkpoint the system was failing teachers.

"What's not fair is that we are saying teachers have failed the system when actually the system has failed teachers.

"They are working in a system that we have designed and to put that on their shoulders when we're asking them to do the impossible I think is fundamentally unfair."

It was important to design a system that achieved the desired outcomes, she said.

The council had set out a roadmap in 2017 which they wanted to see implemented now, Hoskin said.

This roadmap included a post-graduate qualification becoming the benchmark for becoming a teacher, having higher entry requirements to "attract a higher calibre of candidates", making sure graduate teachers had subject knowledge which was relevant to the curriculum with a focus on English, maths and science, and providing more opportunities for practice-related research.

"To make it work requires investment," Hoskin said, "in programme design, delivery, paying teachers what they need and resourcing schools to deliver a high-quality coherent programme on induction and mentoring."

She said the council was talking to the government about this.

"What I committed to do today is to go back to our research in 2017, have another look at it because of course the world has changed quite significantly in spaces like technology, Covid has had impacts and then I'll take that advice back to the government and really hope we're going to be bold enough to do system design that, yip it's going to cost some money, but will get us the results that we all want."

The system should move towards a post-graduate teacher education qualification "and make that the benchmark for registration of new teachers", she said.

"That would mean that applicants would need strong subject knowledge in at least one curriculum learning area that's relevant to teaching gained in a prior degree."

Steps also needed to be taken to make teaching more desirable, she said.

"If we want to make teaching a really attractive career we have to go back and have a look at the attractiveness of it [in terms of] a salary, if you've got a school leaver looking at what choices they might make, you just know one of the considerations has to be what's my learning capacity, what are the other benefits and do I end up with a huge debt at the end of my training."

The current system was developed on the basis of what was affordable given the government funding they had, she said.

"What I want to do is to come back and say based on our research and international research that we released in 2017 and actually come back and say 'this is what's needed to get the outcomes that we're all talking about and wanting."

This was the system the council wanted and needed, and they would work with the government about how it could be paid for, Hoskin said.

"The cash needs to fit what's needed, not the other way around."

The council wanted to start with primary teaching, and a number of challenges had been identified with the preparation of teachers entering primary schools, Hoskin said.

"How fast we can move towards it will depend on the ability and willingness of the government to make the necessary financial commitment."

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