The Guardian are reporting on an IPPR study which says that better training, particularly in schools in disadvantaged areas, could help close the attainment gap between rich and poor.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling for a new US-style institute for advanced teaching in the UK specifically for staff in challenging schools. The report, Beyond the Plateau, says poor quality and sporadic professional development – often through unproved theories such as “learning styles” and “triple marking” – is contributing to many teachers’ failure to progress past a certain level.
The proposed new teaching institute, run by successful schools in disadvantaged areas, would provide incentives for teachers to improve and opportunities for career progression and to gain advanced qualifications. The IPPR says raising the profile of expert teachers would help stem the exodus from the profession. A record one in 10 teachers left state schools in England last year; more than 40% plan to quit within five years; and Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, has warned of a teacher brain drain as thousands depart for schools abroad.
“While we clearly need to recruit more teachers, we also need to hold on to the ones we have,” says Jonathan Clifton, IPPR’s associate director for public services. “Supporting the existing workforce must be a big part of the answer. Worryingly, the training teachers get beyond their initial training does not seem to make much difference,” he says.
The IPPR report recommends that, in line with the model of the school-led Relay Graduate School for Education in New York, teachers with the potential to become “expert” are taught by teachers at high-performing schools in low-income communities.
Matthew Hood, author of the IPPR report, who worked for Teach First and is now an assistant headteacher at Heysham high school in Morecambe, Lancashire, says the new institute could be funded out of the money schools spend on in-service courses and consultants. “There is money in the system but it is being wasted on group courses and sessions that don’t address the individual needs of teachers who are at different stages of development. It is time to explode the myth that teachers are ‘born not made’.
What more do you think could be done to improve teacher training in the UK today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Nellie
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