Attendees and apologies
Chaired by Deputy First Minister/Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney.
The Chatham House Rule applies to this group, so attendees will not be listed.
Items and actions
Governance Review Next Steps
It was explained that an announcement on next steps following the Governance Review would be made to parliament tomorrow and that it would not be appropriate to pre-empt that.
The general aims of empowering and supporting teachers and headteachers to take decisions about children’s education, set out in the consultation document, were noted.
It was agreed that a copy of the Next Steps publication would be circulated to panel members tomorrow.
Initial Teacher Education (ITE)
Members heard a brief summary of the main issues arising from the recently published quantitative analysis of ITE course content.
A number of issues were raised in the subsequent discussion on the availability of support in schools for student placements and newly qualified staff; how well prepared students were by ITE courses; whether expectations of ITE courses and of new teachers were reasonable; and whether ITE provided appropriate coverage of both subject knowledge and teaching practice.
Whether schools had sufficient staffing to support the level of mentoring often needed; whether that need had increased; and, where it had, whether that was the result of lower quality in terms of student intake or teaching quality at university
Whether newly qualified teachers had sufficient confidence especially in relation to subjects traditionally considered difficult or in relation to issues perceived to be controversial. It was noted that some ITE courses have what might be considered as core skills or subject content as elective options for students
Whether ITE courses were preparing students for being on their own in front of a class
Whether ITE courses should require students to be in formal learning for longer each week and to spend more time in classrooms working with their peers
Whether student placements would be better managed by focussing them in a smaller number of establishments (effectively creating teaching schools)
Whether ITE courses are routinely taught by the best staff available and on a permanent and full-time basis
Whether in ITE courses the balance has shifted between core capacity on curriculum content and teaching practice
Whether core subjects are covered with sufficient regard to the subject context in which they will be taught e.g. literacy for teachers of maths or social studies
Whether schools collaborate sufficiently with ITE providers to deliver a genuinely co-constructive model and to enable students to collaborate with a range of teachers
National Improvement Framework
A demonstration of the Scottish National Standardised Assessment system was given showing the P4 and S3 literacy (reading) tests and examples of the individual and group level reports which can be generated.
The reports were generally considered to be very positive, particularly in that they provided valuable qualitative rather than quantitative information. It was reiterated that the Government did not intend to publish test results.
It was noted that pupils undertaking the tests should have the same level of support that they would in normal lessons and that the policy is for schools/local authorities to choose when to use in order to best support judgment.
The subsequent discussion included:
Timing: the impact of undertaking the test earlier or later in the year and the ability of teachers to choose when to undertake them. It was suggested that one month can make a significant difference in terms of learner development. It was also suggested that results may not be consistent if some teachers use the tests early to inform how they teach throughout the year while others use them later to confirm expected progress. It was noted that two national standards would be developed from control groups in year 2 reflecting results achieved before and after Christmas and that it was expected that all learners will complete the test in each of the years tested
Resits. It was noted that there was no intention to allow a pupil to resit the test if he or she simply had a bad day i.e. if the teacher knew that the result did not reflect their actual level of progress. It was noted that the test result was just one part of wider evidence available which included the teacher’s own judgement and wider knowledge
Accessibility for pupils in special schools, some of whom may not be able to achieve even the earliest (P1) levels tested. It was noted that it would be a matter for teacher judgement whether the tests would be undertaken in such circumstances and that it was possible that tests covering earlier levels of progress could be developed
Broadband issues in rural schools. It was confirmed that rural schools were involved in trialling the tests and that an offline option would also be available
Language levels used in the tests. It was confirmed that CALL Scotland had been involved in their development
The Chair thanked attendees and noted that the next meeting of the Panel would be held in September 2017.