Reforming teacher training: developing subject knowledge for teaching

Reforming teacher training

Subject expertise should be at the heart of any new reforms, ensuring that sufficient time is provided in the curriculum with a coherent system for developing teachers’ subject and teaching knowledge “from the moment they start training to the time they leave the classroom”.

This is the recommendation of the IOP’s head of education, Charles Tracy, in an essay which forms part of a collection addressing the future of Initial Teacher Training (ITT).

Charles describes the different types of subject knowledge required for teaching and makes the case for putting subject expertise at the heart of any new reforms, with emphasis on the importance of subjectspecific mentoring. He also proposes that trainees and new teachers are allowed to focus on their home subject during their early career to prevent them being overloaded with new material to learn and prepare to teach.

Published by the Gatsby Foundation, Reforming Teacher Training: Expert Perspectives, is a set of responses to the current debate in England as part of the government’s ITT Market Review. Gatsby asked nine education experts from a range of institutions and backgrounds to write an essay covering their thoughts on aspects of teacher training, and to reflect on the new proposals, which controversially included the suggestion that every provider should go through a re-accreditation process.

Gatsby has worked with government and other partners over the last 20 years to improve the quality and quantity of specialist teachers. It has particularly focused on physics teachers, where the number of new teachers still falls short of what is needed.

The Gatsby publication comes just months after the launch of the IOP-led Subjects Matter report, the result of a collaboration between over 50 educational organisations, subject-specific societies and individual specialists. It described how a national system of subject-specific CPD for all teachers could help to increase the quality of teaching in schools and improve educational outcomes for all students.

Gatsby recommends that the uncertainty around how to shape the future of ITT is reason to slow down and assess in detail the options and their implications, before identifying the long-term solution.




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