Flexibility in initial teacher education: implications for pedagogy and practice

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Queensland University of Technology]On: 31 October 2014, At: 23:59Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Education for Teaching:International research and pedagogyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20</p><p>Flexibility in initial teacher education:implications for pedagogy and practiceLiz Morrison a &amp; Maggie Pitfield aa University of London , UKPublished online: 22 Jan 2007.</p><p>To cite this article: Liz Morrison &amp; Maggie Pitfield (2006) Flexibility in initial teacher education:implications for pedagogy and practice, Journal of Education for Teaching: International researchand pedagogy, 32:2, 185-196</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607470600655243</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607470600655243http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Flexibility in initial teacher education:</p><p>implications for pedagogy and practice</p><p>Liz Morrison and Maggie Pitfield*</p><p>University of London, UK</p><p>This paper focuses on recent and innovative moves towards flexible learning in initial teacher</p><p>education programmes in England and Wales, as part of the widening participation agenda in</p><p>higher education and in response to changes in teacher recruitment patterns. We take as our</p><p>perspective our own experience as two course tutors in a higher education institution that</p><p>introduced flexible routes into its secondary teacher education programme at the beginning of the</p><p>academic year 2002/2003. Using the universitys model for our case study, we have undertaken a</p><p>small-scale research project and reviewed the literature describing flexible learning discourses in</p><p>higher education, to consider the extent to which concepts of flexibility are being translated into</p><p>practice. In particular we highlight some implications for pedagogy and practice that have become</p><p>apparent at this early stage in the development of flexible courses and which will have an impact</p><p>upon their progress in the future.</p><p>Introduction</p><p>At the beginning of the academic year 2000/2001 the Teacher Training Agency</p><p>(TTA), the key government regulatory and funding body for initial teacher</p><p>education in England and Wales, introduced flexible Postgraduate Certificate in</p><p>Education (PGCE) courses as a non-traditional route to Qualified Teacher Status,</p><p>with a view to widening access to teacher training. Hitherto the traditional pattern in</p><p>England and Wales of postgraduate teacher education had been a one-year, full-time</p><p>course (September to July), divided into three terms, the content of which</p><p>incorporated both academic study, including the development of subject knowledge</p><p>for teaching, and professional training. These courses are organised and</p><p>administered by the higher education institution (HEI) providers which award the</p><p>qualification of PGCE. The professional training element of the courses takes place</p><p>in schools that work collaboratively with the HEIs. The TTA requires the HEIs and</p><p>the schools to measure students progress against a set of Standards for Qualified</p><p>Teacher Status. There are other routes to Qualified Teacher Status and a career in</p><p>*Corresponding author. Department of Educational Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of</p><p>London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK. Email: m.pitfield@gold.ac.uk</p><p>Journal of Education for Teaching</p><p>Vol. 32, No. 2, May 2006, pp. 185196</p><p>ISSN 0260-7476 (print)/ISSN 1360-0540 (online)/06/020185-12</p><p># 2006 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/02607470600655243</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Que</p><p>ensl</p><p>and </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>echn</p><p>olog</p><p>y] a</p><p>t 23:</p><p>59 3</p><p>1 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>teaching supported by the TTAfor example, the Graduate Teacher Programme</p><p>and more recently the Teach First schemebut these are employment-based routes</p><p>which do not lead to a PGCE qualification. Thus, the new flexible courses offer the</p><p>only alternative PGCE route.</p><p>The TTAs commitment to the introduction of flexible courses can be viewed at</p><p>least in part as a response to the emerging recruitment pattern (TTA, 2001, p. 6)</p><p>which indicates that many of those now entering teacher training fit the following</p><p>profile in one or more ways: they are more mature; in full-time employment but are</p><p>looking for career change; have child care responsibilities; have some teaching or</p><p>teaching-related experiences; and/or have subject degrees which would ordinarily</p><p>not connect to the subjects which make up the National Curriculum for England.</p><p>The new courses rationale was to provide access to teaching for those who, because</p><p>of their personal circumstances, cannot follow a standard postgraduate certificate in</p><p>education (PGCE) course (Ofsted, 2003, p. 4).</p><p>The impetus to reconfigure PGCE courses so that they are more responsive to the</p><p>needs of students also arises out of a period of teacher shortage in England and</p><p>Wales, in particular subjects and geographical areas, and a corresponding change in</p><p>enrolment patterns, where 56% of recruits are now over 25 and one in four is over 30</p><p>(Revell, 2004). One of the assumptions behind the move towards flexibility was that</p><p>these more mature students would have different requirements and expectations of a</p><p>PGCE programme. Also, as Kirkpatrick (1997, p. 161) points out, there are sound</p><p>economic reasons for HEIs to attempt to reach this group, given the decline in</p><p>funding levels and the consequent need to generate income from other sources.</p><p>Put simply, the HEI that responds positively to the TTAs promotion of flexible</p><p>PGCE courses, and successfully attracts those students unable to commit to a full-</p><p>time course, is able to access further vital TTA funding.</p><p>Although financial considerations had a part to play, the motivation for setting up</p><p>the flexible PGCE programme at Goldsmiths College, University of London, went</p><p>beyond the merely economic. As a key initial teacher education provider for London</p><p>schools with a genuine commitment to its inner London community, Goldsmiths</p><p>had a clear rationale for the introduction of the flexible courses. Thus, by meeting</p><p>student expectations and needs with regard to flexibility, greater access to the</p><p>teacher education courses available at a local college could be provided.</p><p>In 2002/2003 flexible secondary PGCE courses in design and technology,</p><p>English, modern foreign languages (community languages) and science were duly</p><p>added to the suite of courses offered by the college. At the inception of the flexible</p><p>programme these subjects were all recognised by the TTA as areas of teacher</p><p>shortage, particularly for many schools in the London urban environment and with</p><p>which Goldsmiths College is in partnership. The explicit aim, therefore, was to</p><p>widen the recruitment base by attracting onto these flexible courses more mature</p><p>students who are already domiciled in the London area, and as such are more likely</p><p>to teach in local schools on completion of their training. This last point also</p><p>recognises that teachers at the beginning of their career usually cannot afford to</p><p>settle in areas of high cost housing, a major cause of recruitment and retention</p><p>186 L. Morrison and M. Pitfield</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Que</p><p>ensl</p><p>and </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>echn</p><p>olog</p><p>y] a</p><p>t 23:</p><p>59 3</p><p>1 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>problems, particularly in shortage subjects, for many inner and outer London</p><p>schools.</p><p>Attempts to define flexible learning in the context of initial teacher</p><p>education</p><p>Although the TTA provided workable guidelines for the new PGCE courses (TTA,</p><p>2001), we felt it was also important to consider how existing models of flexible</p><p>learning could inform the development of the flexible PGCE programme at</p><p>Goldsmiths. On the international scene flexible teacher education programmes</p><p>incorporating aspects of distance and open learning have been established for some</p><p>time, with evidence of considerable growth in the last decade (Robinson &amp; Latchem,</p><p>2003). These were a product of the impetus to extend and expand existing levels of</p><p>teacher education provision in response to a variety of different needs and contexts</p><p>(Rumble, 1989), but were not particularly applicable to the situation in the UK. In</p><p>fact, until relatively recently the Open University had been the only HEI in the UK</p><p>offering a distance learning, though not recognisably flexible, route into teaching.</p><p>This is perhaps unsurprising in a small country which has good communications and</p><p>is well served by HEIs offering teacher education courses.</p><p>It is also true that the notion of flexibility is not a new phenomenon in other areas</p><p>of higher education, for example, in Bachelor and taught Masters degrees, but there</p><p>is still considerable debate surrounding the definition of flexible learning. This is</p><p>because it is a multi-faceted and evolving rather than a unitary homogenous</p><p>phenomenon (Kirkpatrick, 1997, p. 164), and as such is often dependent on</p><p>context. For the relatively new flexible PGCE courses this is particularly true, as</p><p>concepts of flexibility are still being constructed. In related fields, however, courses</p><p>have already been re-conceptualised in terms of greater flexibility, and this has led to</p><p>some useful analyses of the dimensions (Collis et al., 1997; Collis &amp; Moonen, 2001),</p><p>discourses (Kirkpatrick, 1997), and implications (Johnston, 1999) of flexibility.</p><p>Whilst the resulting models are not directly applicable to flexible PGCE structures,</p><p>common elements are nevertheless identifiable.</p><p>For example, the assertion from Collis and Moonens dimensions of flexibility that</p><p>education can be made more flexible by introducing learner choice in different</p><p>aspects of the learning experience (Collis &amp; Moonen, 2001) is of relevance to the</p><p>emergent flexible PGCE courses. Kirkpatrick (1997), in her examination of flexible</p><p>learning discourses, has identified this impetus towards a more student-centred</p><p>approach as coming from several different directions: not only does such an</p><p>approach aim to attract more students into higher education on the grounds of</p><p>equity and access, it also ensures that the HEI is able to respond to economic and</p><p>political imperatives. These are certainly amongst the key factorsmeeting student</p><p>needs, improving access, economic considerations and responding to government</p><p>prioritiesresponsible for the increased attention given to flexible learning by</p><p>HEIs, and which were present at the point when the TTA was promoting flexible</p><p>PGCE courses. In the specific field of teacher education we were able to draw upon</p><p>Flexibility in initial teacher education 187</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Que</p><p>ensl</p><p>and </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f T</p><p>echn</p><p>olog</p><p>y] a</p><p>t 23:</p><p>59 3</p><p>1 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>the contribution of Cleminson (2000). He attempted at the planning stage for</p><p>flexible PGCE courses to open a debate on the challenges involved and how</p><p>these might be met, particularly those issues arising from the individualisation of</p><p>courses.</p><p>Flexibility in our teacher education courses has been defined by a number of</p><p>measures. For example, it allows us to take a more student-centred approach, with</p><p>an individual training plan that is negotiated and then reviewed at key points during</p><p>the course. There is some flexibility in course entry and exit points, deadlines for</p><p>completion of modules are to some extent self-imposed and there are opportunities</p><p>to organise work and/or child care commitments around self-study modules. Flexi-</p><p>bility is also offered in terms of start dates (September or January) and increased</p><p>time is allowed for completion of the PGCE (up to two years). Finally, recognition of</p><p>prior relevant experience can lead to exemption from particular aspects of the PGCE</p><p>course.</p><p>The research</p><p>In order to examine critically the concept of flexibility as proposed by the TTA and</p><p>interpreted by our own HEI we undertook a small-scale research project. We wanted</p><p>to look generally at those aspects of the course that students were finding sufficiently</p><p>flexible and whether there were areas which required a more flexible approach. In</p><p>gathering such information we were able to monitor and evaluate a programme</p><p>which is at an early stage and has no precedent, in order to inform ongoing course</p><p>development.</p><p>We surveyed the science and English students finishing in the spring and summer</p><p>of 2000. These students were from the first two cohorts to have followed a flexible</p><p>PGCE programme at Goldsmiths College. We asked the students to complete an</p><p>exit questionnaire which explored their perspectives on the flexibility offered in the</p><p>key areasthe college administrative procedures, the college-based course, and the</p><p>school-based experience. The questionnaire asked the students to rate the different</p><p>aspects of these areas on a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being totally inflexible or inaccessible to</p><p>5 indicating total flexibility or accessibility. At the end of the questionnaire there was</p><p>an opportunity for the students to give any other comments about the course. Ten</p><p>students responded to this questionnaire.</p><p>We decided to probe students reasons for selecting a flexible rather than a full-</p><p>time PGCE route into teaching and what their expectations of flexibility were. Early</p><p>in their course we asked the 20 students starting on the programme in January 2004</p><p>to complete a tick box questionnaire which again afforded the students the</p><p>opportunity to elaborate on their answers if they wished to. We already knew from</p><p>our records that all these students fitted the TTA profile in one or more ways. For</p><p>example, 10 were career switchers, nine had personal responsibilities and/or child</p><p>care commitments which led to their selection of a flexible course, and seven had a</p><p>settled...</p></li></ul>

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