Tomorrow's Teachers: International and Critical Perspectives on Teacher Education

By Alan G. Scott; John G. Freeman-Moir | Go to book overview

Training in Turmoil Researching Initial Teacher Education in England in the 1990s1

Geoff Whitty, John Furlong, Len Barton, Sheila Miles and Caroline Whiting


Introduction

At the beginning of the 1980s, the content and structure of teacher education and training courses in England was regarded as principally a matter for universities and colleges themselves. As a policy area, teacher education was something of a backwater. By the end of that decade, however, it had become a key issue in government education policy. Central control had increased dramatically and, once established, the speed of change imposed on the system became progressively faster. The changes introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government in the 1980s included the following: establishment of the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CATE) ( Department of Education and Science, 1984, 1989); the wholesale revision of all conventional teacher training courses--the one-year post-graduate certificate (PGCE) and the four-year bachelor's degree (B.Ed)--to meet the government's accreditation criteria; and the introduction of shortened B.Ed courses, part-time PGCEs and conversion courses for graduates wishing to convert their first degree so they could teach subjects for which there was a shortage of teachers. Other more radical innovations launched at the end of the decade included the development of new (largely school-based) 'articled teacher' and 'licensed teacher' routes to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

In this ferment of policy change, those in higher education who were traditionally responsible for initial teacher education lost a significant proportion of their professional autonomy--their ability to employ whom they wished and to define the form and content of training courses. As a result, initial teacher education increasingly became a major site for ideological struggle between the government and others (especially those in higher education) with an interest in the professional formation of teachers.

It was against this background of policy change and political struggle that, in 1990, four of the present authors, then based in different universities and colleges in England and Wales, applied to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to establish a national research project to monitor the changes

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1
A fuller account of the research reported in this chapter can be found in Furlong, Whitty, Barrett, Barton and Miles ( 1995).

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