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 Education for all (home)




Section 7. Learning and Pedagogy

without teacher development’ – a piece of wisdom forgotten by those who impose curriculum from above. Hence, the Reviews said much about ‘pedagogy’ – the informed art of teaching.

Key points

  • The pedagogical expertise required of good teaching too often goes unrecognised both in Government interventions and in the need for continuing professional development.
  • The wider vision of learning, especially 14-19, requires a more widely trained teaching force and an abolition of separate qualifications for school, FE and adult education.

 Professional status

The professional status of the teachers and trainers is emphasised in the Reviews as

  • custodians of cultural traditions, embedded in subject and craft knowledge;
  • experts in pedagogy;
  • experts in curriculum development.

Consequences are drawn for the training, qualification and continuing professional development of teachers.

Custodians of cultural traditions

With regard to ‘custodians of cultural traditions’, the teacher is trained and educated to teach what society regards as a valuable cultural resources:

  • first, for understanding the physical, economic and social worlds which the learners inhabit (what the Primary Review, p.408, drawing upon TLRP research, refers to as ‘the big ideas, facts, processes, language and narratives of valued forms of knowledge’ )
  • second, for being able to act intelligently within it (what the Nuffield Review refers to as ‘practical capabilities’ - NR p.87; CPR p.406/7).

Experts in pedagogy

With regard to expertise in pedagogy, TLRP 12 (p.2) defines pedagogy thus:
the practice of teaching framed and informed by a shared and structured body of knowledge. This knowledge comprises experience, evidence, understanding moral purpose and shared transparent values. It is by virtue of progressive acquiring such knowledge and mastering the expertise – through initial training, continuing development, reflection and classroom enquiry and regulated practice – that teachers are entitled to be treated as professionals. 

That professional expertise is embodied by the TLRP in ten principles of pedagogy which underpinned its research papers (see p.6) and is embodied in the MCWB’s Learning through Life. TLRP proposes that effective pedagogy:
1. equips learners for life in its broadest sense - enabling individuals and groups to develop the intellectual, personal and social resources that will enable them to participate as active citizens, contribute to economic development and flourish as individuals in a diverse and changing society.
2. engages with valued forms of knowledge – that is, engaging learners with the big ideas of subjects, key skills and processes, ways of thinking and practising, attitudes and relationships. They need to understand what constitutes quality, standards and expertise in different disciplines.
3. recognises the importance of prior experience and learning - in order for learners and those who support their learning, to plan their next steps. This builds on prior learning but also takes account of the personal and cultural experiences of different groups of learners.
4.requires learning to be ‘scaffolded’ – to provide structures of intellectual, social and emotional support to help learners move forward in their learning, such that the learning which has taken place survives the removal of such support.
5. needs assessment to be congruent with learning - such that it achieves maximum validity in terms of both learning outcomes and learning processes, and supports learning as well as recording what learning has been achieved.
6. promotes the active engagement of the learner – thereby achieving greater independence and autonomy through the development of a repertoire of learning strategies and practices, positive learning dispositions, and the will and confidence to become agents in their own learning.
7. fosters both individual and social processes and outcomes -  enabling learners to build relationships and communication with others for learning purposes, in order to assist the mutual development of knowledge and to enhance the achievements of individuals and groups.
8. recognises the significance of informal learning - such as learning out of school or away from the workplace -  and thereby valued and appropriately utilised in formal processes.
9. depends on the learning of all those who support the learning of others and thereby recognises the need for teachers to learn continuously in order to develop their knowledge and skill, and adapt and develop their roles, especially through practice-based inquiry.
10. demands consistent policy frameworks for learning – so institutional, local and national policies need to reinforce and support the creation of effective learning environments for learners.
TLRP has applied these principles through publications for school (1, 3), further (6) and higher education (9). In its 2010 publication, Professionalism and Pedagogy (12), it extended the analysis to propose a framework of concepts representing teacher expertise in relation to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment.  Such concepts, it is argued, enable teachers to analyse provision and practice as a foundation for improvement.

Expertise in curriculum development

Both Nuffield and the Primary Reviews criticise the impoverished view of teaching and of curriculum development (embodied in a language of performance management), which fails to realise that there is no curriculum development without teacher involvement and teacher development. The teacher’s professional judgement, bridges the gap between the knowledge to be drawn upon and the interests and needs of the learners, whether young or adult. And those professional judgements are enhanced by their attachment to what ideally might be seen as a ‘community of practice’, often to be found in professional bodies such as the Historical, Geographical or Mathematical Associations.

However, both Reviews noted the expansion of Teacher Assistants and Higher Level Teacher Assistants, creating a more diversified workforce. And IFLL points to the initial and professional needs of the diverse workforce in adult education, frequently without professional training or professional development (IFLL p.184 sq)

Extension of pedagogy – using new technology

New technologies give both learners and teachers ready access to a wide range of knowledge and information. This should increase the autonomy of the teacher in terms of gaining subject knowledge. But it can make the learner more independent of the teacher, suggesting a different relationship. Learning within the formal setting becomes more of a transaction than a transmission of knowledge (see NR p.86-7; CPR p.281-3). After all, as TLRP 7 points out,
Wikipedia is an open document created, updated, edited and refereed by readers, deriving accuracy and authority from ongoing group discussion and consensus rather than from one expert, whether or not that be a teacher.

Furthermore, such is the speed of change in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that the young people may be more adept in using it than the teachers. Hence, the increasing use of the students as mentors – one school in Hertfordshire employs 35 students as e-mentors.
As pointed out by the Nuffield Review p.74/5, the Government, recognising the power of ICT to improve the quality of teaching, learning and management in schools, put ICT at the heart of its commitment to improve learning for all young people. Similarly the Primary Review points to its place in the improvement of pedagogy and the greater ‘personalisation of learning’. That is why the previous Government established the British Educational Communications and Technologies Agency (BECTA) to lead research into the effective use of ICT – how the learning process is transformed and learning outcomes improved. Connected with BECTA has been Futurelab, an independent organisation demonstrating the power of technology in supporting change (see NR p.79). Through its project, Enquiring Minds, for instance, in which over 100 schools were involved directly or indirectly, it explored the new sense of ‘learning spaces’ and the understanding of ‘digital literacy’.
Conclusion 1: Implications for teacher training (CPR p.422 sq; NR p.91 sq)

The Primary and Nuffield Reviews, in the light of this three-fold role, make certain demands on the initial training and early professional work of teachers.

  • need for deep understanding of subject matter or practice (NR ch.6; CPR p.424)
  • understanding, through critical reflection, of the learning needs, the motivation and aspirations of  the learners (CPR p.423 sq);
  • close partnership between training institutions in higher education and  ‘training schools’ to ensure integration between practice, research and theory.
  • need to put adult education on the same footing as school and college education in a  requirement for qualified teaching status and the opportunity for continuing professional development (IFLL p.191/2).

As IFLL points out (p.184 sq), ‘we need a well-trained workforce [in adult education] to deliver high quality learning’, though that is not easy to regulate, given the wide range of contributors

Conclusion 2: Implications for teacher qualifications

The Nuffield Review (p.90/1) highlighted the difficulty of dual qualifications – one for those teaching in schools and another for further education (FE). A more integrated phase 14-19 required collaboration between different kinds of provider. The expertise associated with teaching in FE is needed for the more practical courses in schools. The duality of qualifications becomes a barrier. The Review argues for 

  • a move towards a single Qualified Teaching Status (as proposed too by the Select Committee for Education(xxv);
  • routes to that QTS from qualifications and experience seen, for teaching purposes, as equivalent to a degree (e.g. technician level with relevant experience);
  • opportunities for progression from Teacher Assistant to qualified teaching status.

Conclusion 3: Implications for continuing professional development (CPD)

The Reviews put the teachers at the centre of the provision of learning opportunities – not as ‘deliverers’ of someone else’s curriculum. Teachers, responding to very different learning needs, must be the experts, though within a national framework. Initial teacher education alone cannot prepare adequately for such professional expertise. This requires continuing professional development – in subject knowledge, pedagogy, critical reflection on practice and classroom based research.

At the same time, such CPD needs to strike a balance between support for inexperienced teachers and greater freedom for those with experience (CPR ch.21) in determining the particular kind of professional development needed.

Such teacher led professional development should be conducted, in the view of the Nuffield Review, in Teachers’ Centres run by teachers (NR p.93-95) – harking back to those established country-wide as a result of the Schools Council (see page 8 above) – or through professional organisations such as the Historical or Geographical Associations, which remain actively involved in teacher development.

(xxv) Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, Feb. 2010, Report into Teacher Training, London: DfE.


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