THE Donaldson Report provides a challenging but necessary set of forward-thinking recommendations for teacher education in Scotland.
If accepted and implemented, these developments will establish a better-educated and more proactive teaching profession. Education is both the root of and route to the development of a leading-edge knowledge economy. We need such routes to be clearly sign-posted on the emerging map of post-recession Scotland, where we have the potential to lead the world in sustainable economic, social, environmental and cultural development.
Much has been made of Donaldson's call for the introduction of diagnostic tests in literacy and numeracy for prospective teacher education students. It is important that this recommendation, which is only one of 50, does not dominate the debate. We need to focus on the development and delivery of better-connected education and continuing professional development from initial teacher education and the induction phase through to school leadership.
I returned to Scotland last year after 22 years and with recent experience as a dean of a large faculty of education and sport in England. My faculty housed a testing centre for the English Training and Development Agency and had well-developed partnerships with "hub schools". Informed by this experience, I think both diagnostic tests and the development of hub schools as centres of excellence in teaching placement can be easily assimilated into the broader post-Donaldson landscape.
From the perspective of the university providers of teacher education, what is more significant is the recommendation to phase out the BEd as a standard entry to the teaching profession. Replacing it with "joint" or "concurrent" degrees, where students study both education and another discipline or subject, has the potential to raise standards, broaden horizons and attract a more diverse student population into the teaching profession. Such routes into teaching could finally pave the way to realising the ambitions of the 1997 Sutherland Report, that the former teacher training colleges be integrated into Scotland's universities.
• Prof Cara Aitchison is head of Moray House School of Education in Edinburgh.