Two-year ‘apprenticeship’ for new teachers suggested by academics

New teachers should undertake a two-year “apprenticeship” before becoming fully qualified, academics suggest.

Arguing for the move in a new pamphlet, to be launched next week, Dr Janet Orchard of the University of Bristol and Professor Christopher Winch of King’s College London, say it will give trainees from the university route time to “develop theoretical and practical understanding” of teaching and “ease” them into the profession.

The proposal suggests once teachers are fully employed they would carry out a “higher level apprenticeship” for the first two years of their work, during which they would devote a day a week to academic study at university, with the rest of the time spent in classrooms being mentored by senior colleagues.

During their allocated classroom time, they would be “sheltered from the most severe operational pressures in schools” and observe colleagues in other schools.
It is argued this move could help retain new entrants to the profession and help prevent a “looming crisis”.

Currently, most teachers complete their training either through the one-year PGCE or through three- or four-year undergraduate courses.

The School Direct scheme, which sees schools organise teacher training, is the government’s favoured route into teaching.

But, the authors argue universities are “better-placed” to take the lead, as unlike schools, they have expertise in teaching adults, rather than children; and greater expertise in teaching individual academic subjects.

Dr Orchard and Professor Winch say in the pamphlet: “The failure to retain teachers, once trained, in the face of a looming recruitment crisis suggests there is a false economy embedded in current arrangements, as well as a considerable waste of precious public resources.”

They add: “Our proposal for a higher grade apprenticeship…provides a realistic and appropriate framework for supporting new teachers at the start of their careers and staunching the flow of talented young people from the profession.”

It comes amid increasing concerns about the weakening role of universities in initial teacher education, which has seen caps introduced for higher education institutions (HEIs) in order to encourage “moderate growth” in the school-led system.

In the past week, it has caused headlines after HEIs were prevented from recruiting more trainee PE teachers last Friday and yesterday a ban was brought in for history courses.

However, in a change to the policy, eight universities, including Oxbridge, were allowed to continue recruiting until they reached 75 per cent of their total from last year.

The pamphlet is part of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain’s “IMPACT” series and launches on Monday.

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