Student teachers in class after just five weeks of training

Closing the attainment gap is priority for Edinburgh's education leader
Closing the attainment gap is priority for Edinburgh's education leader
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Trainee teachers would be allowed to start work in Scotland after a five-week summer school under new fast-track proposals.

According to The Herald, Teach First has submitted a briefing to Education Secretary John Swinney suggesting the setting up of a Scottish Summer Institute.

The suggestion is contained in documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

Talks over the proposals come after ministers decided to put out to tender a new teacher training course targeted at plugging vacancies in rural schools and subjects such as science, technology and maths.

Traditionally, postgraduate teacher training students undertake a year of study, including work placements, before joining a school as a probationer in their second year.

The documents state: “Participants would undertake an intensive Scottish summer school prior to commencing work in a school with a phased introduction to responsibility overseen by an experienced Scottish teacher.”

A second paper says: “The Scottish Summer Institute would be focused on providing Teach For Scotland participants with a strong grounding in the key areas of classroom management, assessment and planning.”

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The documents also show Teach First is proposing a two-year postgraduate course, with trainees being paid in the first year of their course once they complete the summer school and move to “on-the-job” training.

Trainees would then experience a “phased introduction to responsibility” over the course of their first year, during which they would “work towards General Teaching Council Scotland accreditation”.

The proposals could mean remunerated Teach First participants would be working alongside university-educated students undertaking intensive work placement who will not be getting paid.

Union leaders have voiced concern.

A spokeswoman for the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, said: “We do not believe handing greater responsibility to unqualified graduates will lead to better outcomes for pupils.

“The Teach First proposal would give such trainees just a few weeks training before putting them into the classroom at the start of the academic year to teach pupils, presumably together with a qualified teacher, and then the trainees would rise to act as the lead class teacher before the end of the first year.”

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She added: “The EIS believes the teaching responsibilities placed on these trainees would be premature and excessive, and would be to the detriment of the pupils.”

Rueben Moore, director of leadership for Teach First, said the proposals for Teach For Scotland were not yet finalised.

He said: “We’re clear that any new teaching route would need to be a bespoke model designed and delivered for the Scotland context, with Scottish university and education providers.”

The General Teaching Council for Scotland said it had made it clear to Teach First that standards would have to be maintained.

A spokesman said: “Being properly qualified to teach in Scotland and meeting the GTCS standards will remain the benchmark for aspiring teachers.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Ministers have made clear we will always maintain the high standard we expect new recruits to attain before they become fully fledged teachers.

“This means any new route into teaching must be accredited by the GTCS and will require a partnership with a university to maintain academic rigour.”