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ASE response: Effective Initial Teacher Education (ITE)

This statement was submitted in response to the Government's call for evidence concerning Initial Teacher Training in England. The independent review, led by Sir Andrew Carter, investigates the effective training of the next generation of outstanding teachers. 

22 September 2014

This response is collated by the Chair of the Association of Tutors in Science Education (ATSE), a network group of ASE, which provides support and interaction for teacher educators (science tutors and mentors), to inspire continuing generations of teachers of science at all levels. Our networked group is open to any member of ASE, and includes those involved in a wide variety of teacher education routes. Our members include those who have a great deal of experience of working in partnership with schools to provide science teacher preparation courses, who have been involved in supporting a variety of routes into teaching and who have been adapting over the last two years to adjust to fit the newer frameworks. Find out more.

ASE in response to the government’s review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in England highlights the key factors in creating outstanding STEM teachers and the importance of supportive learning communities.

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is the beginning of the professional learning journey which continues throughout teacher’s careers. The response states “effective teacher education introduces and engages beginning teachers in the theories underpinning ideas about children’s learning, and the pedagogical strategies that are considered, and to develop their application of these theories and strategies through teaching practice supported by experienced teachers.”

A stable, highly-educated teaching force, research -oriented ITE and close collaboration between schools and universities has been shown to be a marker of success for education in international comparisons. 

The response outlines the characteristics of outstanding STEM teaching stating this should be to;

  • Motivate students to enjoy STEM subjects and form a personal identity as 'someone who is good at STEM'.
  • Encourage progression of ideas from year to year in the curriculum, and of how to teach particular content in such a way that it is understood by learners
  • Teachers understand 'milestone steps' that characterise student learning in specific topics 

The content of initial teacher education (and CPD) should be to produce professionals with a clear understanding of the purpose of STEM education as part of a broader education, the importance of using evidence, increasing science literacy and integrating information on STEM Careers. 

The statement also calls for a more realistic timeframe in encouraging outstanding STEM teaching stating, 

“It is not feasible to produce outstanding teachers of STEM during initial education and training (as evidenced by an extensive research corpus from the UK and elsewhere); the capacity for individual teachers to provide outstanding STEM teaching comes about over a more extended time period.  Support for the professional development of STEM teachers post-qualification should be enhanced through a co-ordinated framework for professional development.” 

Download the full statement (pdf) 

Statement published 22 September 2014 © Association for Science Education