Higher-level teaching apprenticeships should be introduced, says report

Academics claim extra training is necessary to allow teachers more time to develop their theoretical and practical understanding of pedagogy before becoming fully qualified.

The report, authored by Dr Jane Orchard of the University of Bristol and Professor Christopher Winch, of King’s College, London, claims that new entrants from the profession would benefit from spending two years as an apprentice teacher before fully qualifying.

Orchard and Winch believe that this initiative would tackle the anti-intellectualist behind the government’s push to shift teacher training out of universities and into schools. Furthermore, they argue, spending two years as a teacher apprentice would reduce the numbers of teacher trainees dropping out.

The report says: “If new teachers do not feel adequately supported in their first teaching posts they are likely to become disillusioned very quickly.”

"Our proposal for a higher grade apprenticeship following the award of QTS 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."

Government figures reveal an estimated 25 per cent of teachers have left the profession within four years of qualifying. The researchers argue that the current 36-week PGCE course is not adequate enough to prepare candidates for the ‘difficult, demanding but ultimately rewarding’ work of teaching.

The apprenticeship proposal involves teachers working in classrooms with colleagues but also having one day a week reserved for academic study at their university. Completion of the apprenticeship would result in trainees gaining a Masters level qualification.

Orchard and Winch believe the newly implicated school-led routes is backed by the idea of teachers as ‘craft worker’, learning their profession by working with masters rather than ‘professionals’ who engage with the theory and findings of education research, than mere intuition.

The study indicated that school-based training courses such as Teach First and School Direct could also be adapted to their model, by including two days of academic study in the first year and one in the second.

The professors warn that there is a ‘real danger’ that the ‘critical and distinctive role of universities could be lost’.

The report concludes: “A longer period of funded training for teachers might seem unrealistic at a time of fiscal restraint.

However, 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.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We want all teachers to continuously seek to improve their skills and we trust headteachers to decide what is the best way for them to do that."

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