What is expected of a would-be teacher of English and what does the student teacher expect from a teacher education course? DES Circular 9/92 heralded the era of competence-based teacher education with a requirement for substantial elements of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses to be based in school. Two-thirds of secondary PGCE courses are spent in school; therefore, during those 120 days, much of the responsibility for the development of student teachers now rests with mentors working in partnership with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Therefore, much of the time on your course will be spent working with your mentor and departmental colleagues in school, not only to develop your classroom skills, but also to develop you in the widest sense as a subject specialist. In recent years, the terms 'reflection' and the development of the student teacher as a 'reflective practitioner' (Schön, 1983; Calderhead, 1989; Lucas, 1991; Rudduck, 1991) have become central to ITE programmes run by HEIs. Indeed, it would appear that the reflective practitioner is now 'the dominant model of professional in teacher education' (Whiting et al., 1996). The aim of this book, therefore, is to promote a coherent approach to school experience which will help you to draw together and investigate what you read, what you have experienced during your own education, and your school experience as an English specialist. More general approaches to school experience can be found in the companion volume Learning to Teach in the Secondary School (Capel et al. 1995).
Learning to Teach in the Secondary School is a valuable introduction to issues which concern every student and new teacher; Learning to Teach English in the Secondary School is complementary in looking at aspects like assessment or being a 'professional' in the context of becoming a subject specialist in English. The chapters introduce issues concerning the teaching of English which particularly relate to current developments such as competence-based and competence-assessed courses; working with a mentor; working with the National Curriculum; using IT in English lessons; understanding GNVQ. In addition, we are introducing aspects of English teaching which sound familiar, such as speaking and listening, reading, writing, and teaching Shakespeare.