HMI: Matters for Discussion

Notes on the text

1 Ten Good Schools
2 Classics in Comprehensive Schools
3 Modern Languages in Comprehensive Schools
4 Gifted Children in Middle and Comprehensive Secondary Schools
5 The Teaching of Ideas in Geography
6 Mixed Ability Work in Comprehensive Schools
7 The Education of Children in Hospitals for the Mentally Handicapped
8 Developments in the BEd Degree Course
9 Mathematics 5 to 11
10 Community Homes with Education
11 A View of the Curriculum
12 Modern Languages in Further Education
13 Girls and Science
14 Mathematics in the Sixth Form
15 The New Teacher in School

Developments in the BEd Degree Course
HMI Series: Matters for Discussion No. 8

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1979
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

1 Introduction
2 The institutions
3 Course structure
4 Education studies
5 Subject studies
6 Professional studies
7 School experience
8 Language and learning
9 Mathematics
10 Summary and suggestions
Appendix: Five course structures

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Department of Education and Science

HMI Series: Matters for Discussion 8

Developments in the BEd
Degree Course

A Study based on Fifteen Institutions

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office

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The publications in this series are intended to stimulate professional discussion. They are based on HM Inspectors' observation of work in educational institutions and present their thoughts on some of the issues involved. The views expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Inspectorate as a whole or of the Department of Education and Science. It is hoped that they will promote debate at all levels so that they can be given due weight when educational developments are being assessed or planned. Nothing which is said in this report should be taken as implying any commitment by the Government to the provision of additional resources.

Crown copyright 1979
First published 1979

ISBN 0 11 270488 4

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1 Introduction
Purpose and background of the survey; limitations to the enquiry

2 The institutions
Sizes of institutions and BEd groups; recruitment to subject courses; organisation of staff; organisation of professional studies: reactions to change: students and schools

3 Course structure
Staff/student contact time; time allocations: units of study; effects of assessment: decisions on choice of course

4 Education studies
Time allocation; college policies on education studies; child development in education studies; optional studies; school experience and education studies

5 Subject studies
Time allocations: overall range of courses; purposes and content of courses; subject studies and other preparation for teaching

6 Professional studies
Weighting of professional studies in overall assessment; nature and place of professional skills; 'consecutive' and 'concurrent' courses; desirable content of professional studies; professional studies and primary education; professional studies and secondary and middle years education; fourth-year programmes

7 School experience
Time allocations; school attachments; block teaching practice; finance; criteria for assessment of quality; school experience and other parts of preparation for teaching

8 Language and learning
Length of courses; content and balance; lack of depth; coordination within courses; use of school experience; adequacy of courses

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9 Mathematics
1. Preparation of non-specialist teachers: students' previous mathematical attainment; time allocations; collaboration among tutors; limitations to content
2. Mathematics as a major study within the degree course: proportion of course time for specialist studies; group sizes and viability; content; methods of teaching employed by colleges; pedagogy of mathematics

10 Summary and suggestions
Students' personal education; immediate needs of new teachers and schools; the teacher's long-term needs; the structure and content of courses; avoidance of fragmentation of studies; coherence

Appendix: Five course structures

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1 Introduction

Purpose and background of the survey

Since the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree was first introduced (in 1964) HM Inspectors have been observing its developments during their routine visits. The BEd evaluation survey which this report describes was planned in the late autumn of 1976 and began in January 1977. Its purpose was to assess the quality of the new BEd courses: that is, those which had been developed in many colleges* following the James Report, the subsequent White Paper, Education: A Framework for Expansion (Cmnd 5174) and DES Circular 7/73. Quality was to be judged by the extent to which the courses appeared to meet the needs of new teachers and the schools. There was to be observation of the courses in progress and discussion with as many as possible of those involved in any component of the degree course.

In advance of each visit colleges were informed of the aims and methods of the survey. They cooperated readily with HMI at all stages. despite the many other pressures and burdens on key members of staff. Fifteen colleges were visited, each for rather less than a week, in the spring, summer and autumn terms of 1977. Visiting panels of about six inspectors normally consisted of specialists in English, mathematics, the role played by language in learning, primary education and science. Religious education, art, remedial education and French were frequently represented and where the college was known to have a particular specialism outside the areas mentioned above, the team was reinforced appropriately. The survey was not, however, principally concerned with specific subjects and on each occasion a study was made of course structure, professional preparation as a whole, education studies, school experience and student guidance.

As far as time and current programmes allowed, HMI attended lectures, classes and seminars, spoke with members of staff and students and read samples of written work. Where students happened at that time to be working in schools, HMIs extended their observation and discussion to some of the practice schools and asked teachers about their own roles in, and conception of, the training process.

Limitations to the enquiry

In the course of the survey, HMIs were constantly aware of factors which set limits to their enquiry. The standard duration of the BEd ordinary degree course is three years and that of the honours degree course, four years. The survey took place when most of the new courses were only in their third year and consequently, any assessment of the impact of the total degree course had to be based upon conjecture as well as experience. This was particularly true of the three colleges which were changing from a concurrent to a consecutive form of training: in two of these the crucial professional year had not begun.** In nearly all the colleges the first

*In this report the institutions which were involved in the survey are frequently referred to as 'colleges', They, in fact, included several polytechnics as well as colleges of education and of higher and further education. In the majority of cases initial teacher training formed only a part of the work of the institution and this part was sometimes small. (See Chapter 2)

**In one college, the professional year was running for the first time when the survey visit took place. In the second college, a professional year was already in operation but under regulations significantly different from those of the new BEd. In the third, only a second year 'induction' course (a brief orientation towards professional aspects of training) was in progress.

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cycle of the new degree had revealed unforeseen problems (a source of some disquiet to certain of the students involved) and a number of the issues raised by HMI during the visit had been anticipated in internal college discussions.

A second background factor, perhaps even more significant than the first, was the changing position of the initial teacher training courses within the total institution. No fewer than eight of the fifteen colleges were already considering, with some urgency, fundamental modifications of the new BEd degree in the light of changing circumstances. These could not have been foreseen four or five years earlier when it was being planned.

Such changes included: substantial reductions in the number of teacher-training places; the increasingly pressing claims of diversification; new evidence about patterns of recruitment and employment; and the need to give full effect to mergers already in being and to accommodate others newly proposed.

Finally, HMI acknowledge that their experience of very complex systems of courses was restricted by the brevity of visits which, inevitably, failed to coincide with many elements of the programmes of study. Nevertheless, when due allowance is made for these handicaps, the overall impressions derived from the survey provide insights into present practice and the assumptions underlying it. When redesigning their courses, colleges may find it helpful to be aware of such provisional assessment as can be made of current developments and of certain evident trends.

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2 The institutions

Sizes of institutions and BEd groups

At this point in their history, the institutions visited during the survey present a varied picture. An attempt will be made in this and succeeding sections to generalise and to underline trends. But no simple statement or description is likely to do justice to the complexity of the situation in a single college and much less to that of the colleges as a group. As previously stated, many colleges are undergoing constant change and there may in some of them have been developments subsequent to HMI's visit.

The fifteen institutions visited comprised three polytechnics, six colleges which had already gone some way towards diversification, three colleges which were beginning to move in that direction and three monotechnics. Eleven were maintained by a local education authority and four were voluntary colleges. Six were formed as a result of recent mergers. The new BEd degrees* at nine of the institutions were each validated by one of six different universities: BEd degrees at the remainder were validated by the CNAA. Overall size range was very great, the smallest monotechnics having fewer than 350 students, while two of the polytechnics had more than 5,000. The size of actual and planned intakes to BEd courses varied much less. In the light of their 1981 targets for teacher-training places, the largest colleges were contemplating BEd year groups of about 150, while for others the numbers would be no more than 100.

To ensure viable teaching groups, almost all the colleges had been obliged to reduce the range of academic subjects offered or to pursue a policy of establishing other degree courses which could have elements in common with the BEd. Several were doing both. The need to make BEd structures compatible with those of other courses was having consequences significant for teacher training. These will be dealt with elsewhere in the report. (See Chapter 3 in particular.)

Recruitment to subject courses

Reference is made in Chapter 9 to the importance of maintaining the provision of BEd degree courses in one particular area of secondary school teacher shortage, namely mathematics. From their involvement in the planning of the rationalisation of teacher-training courses on a national basis, the colleges were understandably aware of the need to safeguard the provision for shortage subjects. Yet the subjects which had been, or were to be, omitted from the BEd range tended, naturally enough, to be those with low recruitment. These included science (especially physical science), religious education and French. Mathematics was usually being maintained as a major subject but with difficulty. The majority of colleges prepared some students for a specialist teaching role. A number of colleges were demonstrating the possibility of maintaining active

*In the remainder of the report there will be no further use of the word 'new' to qualify 'BEd' except where it is needed to underline the distinction between present and former degree courses. It should therefore be assumed that 'BEd' indicates the most recent form found in operation in the colleges which were visited.

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teaching of mathematics and science, as well as other subjects, in professional training, even when these subjects could now no longer be offered as major academic studies. The matriculation requirement of two A-level passes stipulated by most of the validating bodies faced colleges with a serious problem: should they accept a preponderance of academically well qualified candidates in the more common humanities? Or should they leave places vacant which might never be filled or else be filled by students unlikely to stay the course? In some colleges, students were sometimes accepted for studies in a major subject in which they had no A-level qualification although such students often possessed that qualification in a related area: some of those taking Religious Studies, for instance, had an A-level pass in History though not in Religious Studies. In some institutions, it was possible to earn a place in the degree course by good performance in a common Certificate/BEd programme or a special qualifying examination, or by taking an A-level examination while at college. At the time of the survey, however, the majority of BEd students had English, history, geography or art as their major study area.

Organisation of staff

Certain trends in the deployment of academic staff could be observed, although the situation was complicated in some cases by incomplete mergers. Sometimes, the BEd course was operating on two main sites. In general, the small separate college of education subject departments were tending to disappear. But where groups of staff had remained together, working in the same academic field, notions of 'the department' and 'the head of department' remained vivid. In smaller colleges, it was common to find at least three major staff-groupings covering education studies, professional studies and (other) subject studies, although the titles and scope of departments varied. In larger institutions, the elements of the BEd course might be grouped under one faculty or several. In the latter case, no single member of staff could have very direct control or influence over all aspects of the degree course. So there was a need to guard against lack of coherence. Similarly, it was said by at least one college that the absence de jure (and increasingly de facto) of a head of subject department might harm the future unity of purpose of those working in that area. Course leaders were sometimes responsible for quite small units* within a given group of studies but might have no clearly recognised functional relationship with others with parallel responsibilities.

The head of the enlarged department might be operationally remote from a particular area of teaching. He might be ultimately responsible for subjects and aspects of training outside his own expertise. It is too early yet to assess the effect of such organisational features.

Organisation of professional studies

In six colleges, a professional studies department existed, normally taking responsibility for all the specifically vocational aspects of the preparation of teachers. Usually it was a recent creation and, perhaps for this reason, few tutors had a full-time commitment to it. The arguments for and against such a department were rehearsed to HMI and exemplified in several colleges. Its

*Terms used to describe elements of BEd courses and those responsible for them are bewildering in their richness and diversity. Many words take on a special significance in the local context of a particular college visited. The reader is asked therefore to avoid attaching any special technical sense to such terms as: faculty, course, programme, unit, module, course leader, etc. These are used here with a general significance which, it is hoped, will be grasped in the context by the reader versed in the current developments in higher education.

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existence lent rigour, coherence and increased status to a vital part of the course, it was said. Its crucial concerns were the planning, coordination and assessment of college courses and various forms of school experience relevant to the age-range for which students were preparing. In connection with professional studies, a small number of colleges appeared to be involving some tutors in too wide an area of activity. But failure to call on the expertise of other departments usually signified only an attempt to avoid increasing organisational complexity; it was no indication of intention to retain professional studies as the exclusive preserve of a few tutors. Most professional studies departments have been set up too recently to allow confident assessment of their significance.

Those colleges without an actual professional studies department usually had a coordinator (or coordinators corresponding to various age-ranges of training) who, in his planning, drew upon the services of tutors, in agreement with those senior members of staff who were responsible for their workloads.

Reactions to change: students and schools

Reference has already been made to changes which were occurring in all the colleges visited. Some changes - such as mergers - were caused by forces beyond staff control but the institutions concerned were seeking reactions to these changes from their students and the schools. Almost every college had machinery for allowing student opinion to be brought quickly to the notice of those who organised the BEd programme. Nearly all had liaison committees on which local teachers were well represented. Not all of the representations made through these channels were consistent or mutually compatible, however. For instance, the desire of many students to have substantial class-teaching experience early in their course could not be easily reconciled with the view of some heads that, before doing so, they should have good grounding in the appropriate curricular areas. Nor did all the changes desired take account of the many constraints imposed by validation requirements, by diversification and its effects on course-structure, by available staff expertise and by the need for economy. However, colleges were making an effort both to find out how far their courses were seen by others as meeting current needs and to react appropriately where possible. Some institutions had already found it valuable to have a clear procedure for internal course evaluation. One had welcomed a team of professional external evaluators. Such developments are welcome.

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3 Course structure

This section gives an account of course-structures in terms of such assumptions, constraints and planning principles as HMI could discern in the many papers they read and in their discussions with college staff. The following paragraphs, in setting a background for the later parts of the report, are therefore largely descriptive.

The appendix illustrates five of the course structures in the sample of colleges. These have been selected only to illustrate the broad range of patterns found. In this section of the text, certain colleges are denoted by capital letters corresponding to the diagrams.

In every college visited the BEd ordinary degree course lasted three years; that leading to the honours degree four years. Every course except two contained elements which could reasonably be termed education studies, subject studies and professional studies. (See Chapters 4, 5 and 6 respectively.) Beyond these common features lay many points of variety and difference.

Staff/student contact-time

Students attended college for approximately 33 to 35 weeks each year. This total was divided into the conventional terms of between 11 and 14 weeks. For the purpose of academic units, however, three of the fifteen institutions had abandoned terms in favour of semesters lasting from September until February and from February until July. A rough calculation of timetabled staff-student contact revealed a range from 360 to 600 hours per year, with a mean of about 500 hours. Most colleges expected students to give at least as much time to private study as to attendance at lectures and seminars. But this guide-line was chiefly aimed at helping staff in the setting of work, and it was evident that few checks were made by tutors. In fact, the reading lists and set tasks were clearly obliging students to spend often far more than their minimum of scheduled hours on private study. The figures for timetabled contact are only crude approximations since practice varied according to the nature of the work. In some parts of the course (eg school experience), the term 'contact' was hard to define.

Time-allocations: units of study

The complete course was normally divided into a number of 'units'. These varied greatly in size and distribution. In one college (C), the three standard units a year each involved 180 hours of contact, while in another (D), each student took twelve 45-hour units a year. Some units were completed and the work assessed in as little as five weeks. Students could be pursuing as many as nine or as few as two units at anyone time. But it was not easy to estimate the degree or fragmentation in their study merely by looking at such diagrams as those in the appendix. The largest modules were often sub-divided, and the smallest were sometimes grouped to form a coherent pattern,

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The virtues of 'short fat' units as opposed to 'long thin' ones were being argued in many colleges and some had opted for a combination of types. The former variety offered opportunities for concentrated attention to a single theme over a block of a few weeks and it was often associated with diversity in modes of teaching and learning. On the other hand, it did not promote the gradual development of ideas and understanding over a longer period. There was some danger, too, that the time-scale of such studies might work against students' retention of knowledge or skill in readiness for its reinforcement or application many months later. The 'long thin' modules avoided this danger but exposed the student to many competing pressures, especially where there was no effective system for spreading course assignments evenly over the term, semester or year.

Effects of assessment

While HMI formed no firm views as to the ideal size or 'girth' of a unit of study, they did consider that many students were too frequently preoccupied with assessment to benefit fully from their course. In one college, for instance, six units of work ended, and were to be assessed, during the first term of the third year. The students were simultaneously preparing both for examinations concerned with other work and for the school experience due to start the following term. It was clear that many were able to give only low priority to preparing for work in school. The training course also had its own built-in pressure points - notably those arising from school experience. Where students also had to produce each semester, term or even half-term work or examination answers which could have considerable bearing on their eventual success, short-term survival was often their major concern. This tendency appeared to have an adverse effect on methods of study and teaching. In one college, a course on educational measurement was being presented, on a very short time-scale, to a group of students of wide-ranging mathematical ability by direct class-teaching. Many students were failing to grasp the principles of the course. In some colleges, the sense of imminent assessment also encouraged a number of students to opt for those courses in which they felt they might most readily face assessment some few weeks later, rather than those which would best meet their needs as future teachers. For example, rather than choose a vocationally-slanted and problem-based course involving application of philosophical principles and the writing of two essays, students in one college were at one stage pursuing educational studies which, though assessed on a brief time-scale, demanded less rigorous study, and in the case of one sociology element, the studies were less directly related to teaching and learning. In at least two instances, there was the added strain of dual assessment: students could pass the test in a unit but be aware that the material might be re-examined at a later stage. Many colleges had chosen some form of modular system for good reasons, as is explained below, but not all of them had found ways of avoiding over-assessment.

Decisions on choice of course

In none of the fifteen colleges did a student commit himself on entry to an immutable course-package; but the scope for individual manoeuvre varied considerably. The aims of colleges which adopted

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a relatively complex unit structure were to gain flexibility and widen choice. In most colleges, it was possible to delay the final choice of main subject studies until the end of the first year, and in a few colleges, until the end of the second. In most colleges, too, there were substantial optional elements in education, professional and subject courses. The weighting of these three major components could be adjusted to suit the age-range interests or the personal preference of the student, or both.

Some BEd courses were interlocked with those leading to other degrees and diplomas. This policy was pursued in order to maintain viable teaching groups in a wide range of subjects and to allow the student, in certain circumstances, to move into or out of the professionally oriented course at various stages. As far as HMI could judge at this early stage in the development of new courses, the policy had sometimes led to the economic viability of teaching groups in certain BEd major subject courses (such as mathematics) which might otherwise have proved unacceptably small. But this result had not been achieved by all the colleges concerned. A number of institutions had found that relatively small and self-contained units of work were conducive to both economic viability and ease of movement into or out of professionally oriented major subject studies, but HMI was unable to observe the degree of their success. Within many organisational solutions there were, inevitably, uneasy compromises and clashes of interest. For example, for those training to be teachers the continuity of academic subject work was sometimes broken by a period of block practice. Similarly, professional training had occasionally to be divided awkwardly into units of time chosen primarily in the interests of simplicity of overall course structure. Other problems arose because of factors unforeseen at the planning stage (including the institutional changes mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2).

The resultant structures caused many students to face several critical points of decision and dilemmas which were not easy to solve. For example, in one college it was possible in the first year to close certain outlets to a degree other than the BEd by selecting a unit which was not compulsory but was of indubitable value to the future teacher. In three others, there were two very different ways of preparing to be a middle-years teacher, one route having a greater subject-specialist emphasis. Guidance on such matters was always available from staff and often initiated by them but, with the complexity of newly-established courses and against the background of a changing employment situation, advice was not easy to give. The problem was made no easier where the very freedom of student-choice, for a restricted size of student-group, led to uncertainty, in some colleges, whether particular units could in fact be offered. It was rare for all those listed to be actually available every year. In these circumstances, the course guidance procedures had sometimes proved inadequate. Usually students turned in the first instance to a personal tutor who knew them well but who might not be well informed about all aspects of course structure. For counselling to be effective, it is essential to have a well established system of reference to the very few members of staff who can be given the time to

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specialise in this function. Not all colleges had such a system. Where it existed, wrong choices could have been greatly reduced by a guidance procedure in which certain pathways were made more explicit for students. For instance, the basis of choice of a second subject, whether allied to or contrasting with their major subject, for students training for the secondary age-range was not always clear. Some had not regarded this second subject as likely to fall within their future professional repertory; others had, but in both cases there were students who pursued 'second subject' courses which lacked a professional element. This is not to suggest that in all of the colleges guidance on the course-systems was inadequate. In some, coordinators of major sectors of work were collaborating closely with other members of staff in the solution of problems of the kind described.

Among some lecturers and even some students there was a strong desire, with which HMI had much sympathy, for a relatively simple structure which would assist planning, remove the anxieties attending personal decisions and perhaps, for some students, ensure a more coherent teacher training course. In certain cases the imperatives of falling numbers and the mounting evidence of trends in student choice were already leading to some narrowing of options, and by the majority of students the most crucial decisions had been taken by the end of the first year.

One major form of simplification which had been adopted by three colleges (C, D and E) was the consecutive course where academic and theoretical studies were concentrated in the first, second and fourth years while the bulk of specific professional training took place in the third year. At one college compromise was reached by postponing professional training (and hence commitment to teaching) until the second year. Other colleges were considering a somewhat different form of consecutive course divided into two blocks, each of two years.

There is no room in this report for discussion of the many arguments that have been advanced for and against the consecutive pattern of training; nor was the evidence of the survey sufficient to form the basis of firm judgments. The detailed effects of the consecutive course are referred to briefly in a number of later chapters (especially chapters 6 and 7). This pattern obviously lends itself more readily than the concurrent one to integration with other courses and to delayed commitment to teaching. But the problems of coherence and integration within the teacher training course are undoubtedly intensified.

Almost every decision about course structure seemed to have brought in its train some advantages and disadvantages. The former had been more apparent before the decision was taken, the latter afterwards. This had led to a 'see-saw' pattern of compensation which was understandable at a time of inevitable innovation and change. It is apparent that colleges now need, above all, a period of stability in which the staff can learn to make best use of the structure they have adopted - except, of course, where the balance of disadvantage is obviously great.

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4 Education studies

This is a current name for what has been variously termed 'principles of education' or 'theory of education' in the past. In all but two of the BEd courses seen, it denoted studies concerned with the theoretical foundations of educational thought, discussion and action. Often the distinction between education studies and professional studies (see Chapter 6) was blurred, and rightly so, since in most cases both were equally designed to produce effective teachers. In the remaining two BEd courses theoretical aspects of education were either spread among other sections of the course - under such headings as 'child studies' or 'learning studies' - or were pursued as part of a major academic course termed 'education studies'.

Time allocation

With these qualifications 'education studies' occurred in every year of the concurrent ordinary and honours degree courses and in the two or three 'non-professional' years of the consecutive courses. It was not always easy to calculate the proportion of time given to this clement of the total course. In the first three years, it was usually about 25 per cent, but it varied from 20 to 40 per cent; in the honours year it tended to be very roughly between a third and a half. But these proportions are in some ways misleading. Some colleges, for example, placed curriculum theory outside the orbit of education studies while others, without offering education studies explicitly, included much theoretical matter under the heading of professional studies.

College policies on education studies

From an examination of course submissions and syllabuses and from what was seen of their practical interpretation, colleges appeared to have adopted one or more of the following policies, some of which overlap:

i. to divide education studies into separate disciplines at an early stage and so provide the student with an analytical tool for considering educational issues;
ii. to enable the student to attempt a synthesis by applying different disciplines to the same educational problem;
iii. to make compulsory introductory studies a basis for informed choice at a later stage of options;
iv. to offer a foundation course in child development as a basis for more specialised education studies.
The majority of colleges introduced explicitly the three disciplines of philosophy, sociology and psychology in the first year and often continued to teach them during the first two years. A smaller number added the history of education to this group. Generally this was the chosen strategy of the staff who were teaching the course; but in a small number of cases the development of a thematic approach, as

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distinct from one based directly on the disciplines, was said to have been inhibited by the requirements of the validating bodies.

On the other hand, there were some innovations including, in one institution, the possibility of selecting a single education studies discipline from among the traditional ones and others such as child development on which to base from the start an approach to the practice of teaching. In this college there was some preference, among students preparing for primary work, for the discipline of educational psychology, while many interested in secondary work chose a course of study based on the organisation of education. Each of these disciplines led outwards to other aspects of educational thought and students from different groups often found that they had covered much common ground.

More often there was a compulsory common element for one, two or even three years. This usually included psychology, sociology and child development and sometimes philosophy, history or curriculum development. Where an attempt was made to compress an introduction to these into as short a time as a semester or two terms, the students complained, with some justice, of mental indigestion. In none of the colleges did the compulsory part of the course include substantial treatment of education in a multicultural society, the education of children with special needs in ordinary schools, or health education.

Child development in education studies

HMI welcomed child development as a major ingredient of the education studies course, though it was found in only four of the colleges. In two of these, the early part of the course emphasised linguistic and conceptual growth, and a group-study approach led to discussion, reading and writing which defined the relationships between children's intellectual and emotional development. In another college, child development was the unifying element for the whole compulsory section of the course. There were, however, significant differences in the syllabuses used and some important topics such as physical development and moral and religious development tended to receive scant treatment. Even the study of individual differences was occasionally overlooked.

Optional studies

Alongside or following the compulsory common course almost all the institutions offered optional education studies. Most frequently choices were allowed so that students could pursue further one or more of the disciplines already introduced, but some optional units provided opportunities to break new ground. Philosophy, the history of education, the administrative structure of our system, comparative education, special educational treatment, community education and education in a multicultural society were the subjects of some optional units along with many others that bordered on the professional studies element - for instance, advanced studies in language, teaching the slow learner and educational studies in mathematics.

Where choice was allowed, the order of popularity of the disciplines of educational theory among students appeared to be: sociology, psychology, history, philosophy. Where curriculum

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theory was offered as an option, it ranked roughly the same as history. There are likely to be a number of reasons for these differences in take-up. The abstractions and methods of philosophy make severe intellectual demands (particularly when ideas have to be set down in writing) as, to some extent, do those of curriculum theory. Students, particularly those who have no special interest in history, do not always see the relevance of the history of education to teaching.

Such considerations do not question the potential value of these disciplines for teacher preparation, but they do suggest the value of shaping content and presentation in ways which will generate interest among a wide range of students and will draw frequently upon concrete examples and issues. In work in all of the disciplines there were elements of courses which, in these terms, had succeeded. For example. one first-year discussion on the range of backgrounds and abilities within an actual class examined the implied assumptions made by the school, and ultimately society, in the construction of the children's weekly programme. From many other aspects of education studies, even within the same college, such a valuable approach was absent.

Another factor which influenced the choices available was the balance of specialist staff among the disciplines of educational theory. Colleges usually had more lecturers who specialised in sociology or psychology than in philosophy or history of education or in curriculum theory; consequently, more options were often available in the first two fields. The likelihood of a student's finding at least one attractive option in those areas was that much greater. The choice of options could not usually be associated with the student's subject or age-range interest, except where there was a clear professional slant.

In the fourth year of the BEd course it was usual to find a requirement for a study in depth relating to at least one of the four common disciplines or to the theory of the curriculum.

School experience and education studies

In the first year of concurrent courses, and occasionally in the second, students' experience of school was frequently intended to reinforce work on child development and other aspects of the education course. This constituted a welcome broadening of the meaning of school experience but its usefulness was bound to depend upon a shared understanding of this intention among students and teachers in schools as well as among college staff, and this condition was often not satisfied. As is stated in Chapter 7, the objectives had in some cases not been made sufficiently clear or else had not been effectively communicated to those concerned.

As well as using day attachments to school, and less frequently block practices, for specific observation and testing, colleges were developing other practical exercises which were college-based. Some or these involved bringing children into college, while others employed closed-circuit television or videotape, or guided personal investigation in schools by students. These investigations, when appropriately graded and well planned by tutors and schools, appeared to be enjoyed. More common teaching and learning methods were the traditional ones including the mass-lecture,

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seminar groups, syndicates, and the use of worksheets, reading lists and periodic essays. Where the staffing establishment for education studies was generous and groups were small some effective work was done, but not all groups were being taught on well organised lines. In one college with a modest number of tutors for education studies, however, there was an ingeniously planned system of individual and group assignments. It was enabling students to learn certain items of philosophical and psychological theory, to sharpen their understanding of them through group discussion, to explore them within planned investigations in schools and then, at the end of the cycle, to review their findings in further discussions. Items treated in this way included freedom and authority in the classroom, personality in relation to learning, and the range of ability within different groups of pupils.

Many students appreciated the contribution which education studies made to their training but expression of dissatisfaction by students and, in some cases, staff was more commonly concerned with this area than with any other part of the BEd course. In exercising choice in the balance of their total course students tended to opt away from the theoretical aspects towards those which appeared to have a more immediate relevance to their future work. The lack of obvious relevance in education studies was the source of most student complaint and, although staff were well aware of the problem, not all institutions had solved it. Those which had linked theoretical studies strongly with teaching practice and had introduced other practical exercises achieved the most positive response. Another problem arose from the need to absorb a very considerable weight or factual information in unfamiliar fields in a short time. This led in some colleges to much passive listening and note-taking, and the comprehensive bibliographies which were appended to submissions to validating bodies often bore little resemblance to the actual reading programmes being pursued. Consequently written work, sometimes produced in response to ambitious subject assignments, tended to be descriptive rather than reflective and to be based on relatively few sources. Staff had, understandably, not found it easy to persuade the mass of their students to use the facts they had learned and the principles they had discussed to form the basis for personal evaluation of educational procedures. Yet in general, tutors' comments on written work were penetrating and helpful and much time was spent in discussion with individual students.

Assessment was usually based on a substantial essay produced near the end of each unit of work, or on a written examination, or on a combination of the two methods. In the final assessment of a module, examinations and course work sometimes carried equal weight, but more commonly, the balance was towards the examination mark. Only very rarely did a student's contribution to discussion appear to be assessed. The basis of such assessment is, of course, hard to define, and it is particularly vulnerable to a charge of subjectivity. The possibility of students' self-assessment in some aspects of their work, including this one, was however being considered by one college as a way of promoting their grasp of issues and of extending understanding among the group as a whole.

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HMI think that at least three questions are important in the planning and review of education studies:

i. Is the course so constructed and so linked with school experience as to make apparent to students the relevance of its content to the work of a teacher?
ii. Would certain elements of theory be more appropriate for study by practising teachers on the ground that they had the maturity of experience on which to base their reflections?
iii. Have the approach and amount of factual content been so chosen as to encourage, rather than to discourage, the exercise of the students' own judgment?

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5 Subject studies

In the traditional Certificate of Education course, there has generally been a requirement for every student to begin or to continue the study of one or more 'main' subjects - often, though not always, subjects which the student had already taken to Ordinary or Advanced level of the General Certificate at school. In all but one of the colleges, this practice was continued in the BEd course in the provision for subject studies: that is, in academic work at the students' level outside the fields of education theory and classroom practice.


Among the institutions visited, this element of the BEd course, measured in 'units' or contact hours, accounted for between 22 and 50 per cent of the total. In three colleges it constituted a larger proportion for intending secondary teachers than for others. Sustained study over at least two years was normally compulsory in at least one subject area or, occasionally, in a more widely defined activity or a subject not pursued when at school. Frequently, options allowed students to strengthen a subject further, to broaden their range of subjects or to give additional time to education or professional work. HMI welcomed this form of flexibility since the importance of one part of the total course is greater for some students than for others, according to the needs of their future pupils, and according to the intending teacher's own background, once an age-range choice has been settled.

Overall range of courses

Reference was made in Chapter 2 to the effect of declining numbers on the range of subject studies offered in certain individual college courses. In the institutions as a whole, however, the variety of studies on offer was very great. While some retained a large traditional list of school subjects, others had introduced disciplines still rare or non-existent in schools (eg the psychology of inter-personal behaviour), some had favoured inter-disciplinary topics (eg Victorian studies) and at least one had accepted as a subject study a theme (primary teaching studies) with considerable professional implications. In one college, education studies could be pursued as a major academic discipline alongside broadly based and compulsory professional studies. The range of BEd subjects and of possible subject combinations was greatest in colleges where mergers or diversification were making it easier within the new BEd programme to retain or widen the availability of staff, accommodation and equipment. A constraint on this range, however, arose in such colleges from the vital need to provide professional courses appropriate to the major studies offered.

Purposes and content of courses

The purposes of subject studies were not clearly stated in all course outlines. In general they also varied from student to student. For

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many - probably most - students, this element of the course provided an opportunity to pursue in depth the discipline of their choice: a discipline with which they had usually some initial familiarity. Sometimes a minor subject study might be added to broaden knowledge in an attractive though unfamiliar area (eg photography). For students intending to teach in secondary schools, subject studies usually provided the necessary basis for specialist professional training. Some future primary and middle school teachers, too, welcomed the opportunity offered by subject studies to deepen or extend their acquaintance with at most two areas of the curriculum which were likely to be useful to the general class teacher: art, drama, physical education, geography and so on. In two colleges it was possible for students training for primary work to terminate separate academic studies at the end of the first year, or even before entry to training, in favour of professional courses combining content and methodology.

These several purposes were reflected to varying degrees in the membership of student groups, in the syllabus content and in the staff's approach to teaching. At one extreme all 'elective' (ie subject) studies in a certain college were intended to be 'concerned with the nature and principles of an area of knowledge, together with its relation to the cognitive and affective development of children and incorporating a study of related curricular developments in schools'.

In the same vein, another college attempted in its guidelines for those planning special subjects 'to ensure that all such courses have, in their various ways, a recognisable bearing upon the student's work as a teacher', and HMI considered that it had, largely, implemented this policy within a number of subject courses offering intellectual challenge. Its major subject course in English used selected texts which were being discussed with students as potential material for use in schools, and children's literature was about to become a compulsory element in this major course.

At the other extreme, in another college, English as a main academic study for intending teachers had no component of language or of children's literature. HMI considered, partly on these grounds, that the course was less appropriate to teacher preparation than was the same college's quite demanding English course within Certificate studies.

A second example at this end of the scale lay in the field of science where, in a number of colleges, future secondary or middle school teachers could specialise in biology with little or no extension into the physical sciences. This arrangement appeared unwise in view of the present trends in science teaching and of the value for science teachers, whatever their precise specialism, of an understanding of basic physical science.

The diversity in the content of subject studies, and in their emphasis and length, is now such that it is very desirable for colleges to inform prospective employers with some precision about the nature of the course which has been followed by each student. Most of the students in the colleges visited had specialised in only one academic area, although some who had a second teaching subject

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within their professional courses thereby sharpened the background to what they might offer during school experience.

There was general cause for satisfaction about academic rigour. Most courses ensured progression in the intellectual demands made on students by insisting on sequential work in at least one discipline and on the pursuit of units at more than one level. College staff were particularly sensitive to the need to maintain academic standards and to the pressures which were, or were thought to be, exerted by validators. This was basically a healthy situation but in certain departments, especially those where students were rather modestly qualified on entry, staff sometimes had recourse to cramming methods in the attempt to develop sufficient skills and knowledge in what was frequently a very short period of time. (See Chapter 3 above.) This was particularly true of three of the mathematics subject courses. In one French subject course the literature element was superficial, moving from one topic to another with little development in each. In most cases, assessment was based on written examination with some allowance for course-work. The special needs of subjects such as art, craft and physical education and the merits of alternative modes of assessment in some other areas of study were, however, usually recognised by validating bodies.

A feature of consecutive (and of some concurrent) honours courses was that subject studies had to be interrupted by full-time professional work for long periods, in certain cases for more than a year. The full effect had yet to be experienced in most colleges but was likely to be marked in those disciplines (eg foreign languages) where professional work might offer few opportunities for the necessary maintenance of a skill. One palliative was to require a limited amount of practice or study to be continued throughout the professional period.

Subject studies and other preparation for teaching

A more common problem was that of coherence and interaction between various subject studies and between those studies on the one hand and the education and professional elements on the other. It must be acknowledged that there is no simple solution. A single teaching group may contain ten students, each with a course programme different from that of his fellows.

Nevertheless, the visiting panels met occasional instances where a single enquiry from a tutor would have revealed an opportunity for two elements of the course to be slanted so as to offer mutual reinforcement. Clearly a student's development proceeds in more than one direction and his studies reflect various emphases. In HMI's view, however, he is most likely to perceive unity in his work when the BEd course is continually presented as being concerned with the processes, and not only the facts, of knowledge.

Despite these problems, for most students subject studies evidently provided a valuable source of intellectual stimulation, of pleasure and of professional expertise.

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6 Professional studies

Under this title are grouped those parts of the college-based BEd programme which are specifically related to the skills of teaching, They may, and frequently do, contribute substantially to the student's general education, but this is not their immediate purpose. School experience is closely linked to professional studies but, for simplicity, questions associated with school-based work are treated separately in the next Chapter.

Some complexity in the pattern of professional courses existed within, as well as across, institutions. It was normal to have different provision of professional studies courses for various age-ranges. Their weight and timing might also vary according to the main subject interests and preferences of students. Tutors with a general professional function (see below) similarly had freedom which allowed them to adjust the course to the needs of the individual student and of the moment. Here as elsewhere, therefore, generalisation is not easy.

Weighting of professional studies in overall assessment

In nearly all the colleges, units of work which were unequivocally 'professional' were recognised by the validating body as assessable and were weighted at least as heavily as any others in deciding the award and classification of the degree. In one case, most of the units for intending primary teachers were grouped with subject studies: in others there was no clearly defined boundary between professional studies and education studies. More commonly the former were separately identified and formed a separate section of the degree course which tended to carry about one-third of the assessment weighting for future teachers of young children and rather less for future secondary specialists.

Nature and place of professional skills

By and large the colleges, and HMI, welcomed the fact that most professional courses were now subject to the fairly detailed scrutiny of validators. This development had caused those responsible for the work to re-examine content, to ensure that there was some progression in the demands made on students and to be explicit about methods of assessment.

Students were being asked, more frequently than in the past, to consider the fundamental ideas which informed good practice in schools. For example, choice of materials for religious education was related to recent thinking about the development of moral reasoning in children, while performance in art was shown to be influenced by physical development and social background.

This, it was felt, would help students when they became qualified teachers to analyse the many situations which, inevitably, could not be treated directly in the initial training course. Nevertheless the trend was not universally propitious. Students need more than underlying theory: they have to familiarise themselves with materials,

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activities, skills and techniques which are applicable at the level of the children they will teach.

The theory, moreover, can often valuably succeed the practice in the sequence of the student's professional growth. This growth is time-consuming and hard to reconcile with unremitting demands for academic respectability. In one or two isolated instances it seemed that an academic veneer was being added to rather elementary practical work in order to satisfy the requirements of assessment.

Somewhat more often there was a gulf between the stated aims of the course, on the one hand, which stressed the long-term value of understanding and, on the other hand, the activities which appeared in fact to predominate - activities relating almost exclusively to the short-term salvation of students facing imminent exposure to a class of children.

Usually the delicate balance between principle and application was better maintained than this. The problems of achieving it were all the greater in circumstances of three kinds:

i. where much had to be covered in a short time;
ii. where course-structure imposed assessment at frequent intervals, sometimes of work not amenable to a written test;
iii. where, through lack of time or appropriate course-coordination, staff were unable explicitly to relate professional studies to what had been learned in parts of education or subject studies.
'Consecutive' and 'concurrent' courses

The major distinction concerning the timing and spread of professional courses was between concurrent and consecutive BEd courses.

In two of the three colleges which had moved to a full consecutive pattern (see Chapter 1) a brief induction or orientation course was possible towards the end of the second year. In all three, an attempt was being made to relate education studies to current school issues. But otherwise professional training before the third year was, in these colleges, limited to meagre and scattered school visits with little preparation or follow-up. (See Chapter 7.)

Once the professional year began, of course, the students' energies were to be totally devoted to this aspect, and staff unfamiliar with teaching a postgraduate teaching course were having to adapt themselves to the compression of training and the greater speed of students' professional development. 'Workshops', arranged in blocks of time, were tending to replace the weekly lecture or tutorial session. Courses were in each case specific to the chosen age-range and a change of mind after the first few weeks would be difficult to accommodate.

It is too early yet to judge how effective this form of training will prove in the framework of an undergraduate course, but some signs (such as the maturity of approach and dedication of the students on leaching practice, and the coherence of the professional course as a whole) were encouraging. The logistics of staff-deployment were giving rise to certain problems at a time of transition. It was proving difficult to free many lecturers so that they could, even for short periods, give the exclusive attention demanded by this type of

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course. In the concurrent courses (still in the majority) professional studies were split fairly evenly over the three years of the ordinary degree, with the second perhaps most heavily used. In several colleges, the first term or semester tended to be free from this work or else to contain a general course with no age-range commitment.

Once this period was over, however, there was little in common between the courses of professional preparation for the various age-range groups. Transfer between these courses involved considerable adjustment. Nor indeed was transfer encouraged in many colleges by variety in school experience. (See Chapter 7.)

Compulsory elements of professional studies tended to come in the first two years, with optional units later. At the time of some of the survey visits, these options had not yet occurred and demand for them was difficult to predict.

Desirable content of professional studies

When due allowance is made for some inevitable, and indeed desirable, blurring of the boundaries between subject, education and professional studies, there remains a fairly wide consensus as to the most suitable content of professional studies. They should include:

i. consideration of human relationships with particular reference to their importance in the school and classroom;
ii. factors which make for individual differences in pupils, and ways of taking account of those differences:
iii. problems relating to all forms of communication, especially language;
iv. the environment for learning;
v. class/group/individual work;
vi. planning of lessons;
vii. choice and preparation of materials;
viii. techniques of presentation;
ix. methods of assessment.
The courses should consider each of these elements in relation to appropriate curricular ranges. This range should be wide for the primary course*, narrower for the middle years and narrower still for the secondary years.

In many primary/middle and most secondary courses there were units which tackled some of the more general matters listed above without a particular subject-teaching slant: the planning of schemes of work; the integrated approach to teaching; topic work; use of resources; story-telling; the art of questioning; use of visual aids; organisation for group and individual learning; discipline; motivation; testing, and so on.

Often, these were effectively supported by well briefed observation of experienced teachers, by group teaching in school or micro-teaching in college, and by block practices. Films and videotapes were extensively used. Where there was no such support or where it was poorly exploited, the courses lost much of their value but this occurred in only a minority of cases.

Naturally, colleges were influenced, but perhaps too much so, by the local school situation so that, for example, the preparation of students for vertically grouped primary classes, mixed ability groups and multi-cultural education depended largely on the

*In this report, as in the colleges, use is made of shorthand expressions such as 'primary students' and 'primary courses' to indicate students intending to teach in primary schools and the courses designed for them.

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prevalence of such features in surrounding schools. The absence of good direct experience was bound to be a handicap but, since newly qualified teachers could face a wide variety of situations in their first teaching post, colleges might in some cases have attempted more than they did through the secondhand experience of, for instance, film or simulation exercises.

Certain important matters of concern to every teacher, whether new or experienced, tended to be treated mainly in separate courses. This ensured a fuller coverage but, as these units were often optional, they usually affected only a proportion of the students. Such matters included giftedness, learning problems and other forms of disadvantage, and health education and professional relationships with health and welfare services.

Professional studies and primary education

Much of the professional studies course was clearly related to areas of the curriculum and in this respect it is necessary to differentiate between primary and secondary programmes. The preparation offered to middle school or middle years students generally resembled the former more closely, but at least three colleges offered these students alternative routes, one having a greater subject specialist emphasis than the other.

In the primary field the major problem was, as it has long been, to provide help for students across a considerable range of disciplines. Despite innumerable variations in detail there seemed to be a large measure of agreement among colleges about priorities. Language/literacy/reading, variously combined and designated, were assumed to be fundamental to most forms of learning. Almost all the colleges had compulsory courses in this area and they usually occupied a substantial proportion of the time allocated to professional studies: it was, on average, about 90 hours of staff-student contact. They are considered in detail in Chapter 8.

The other subject which was compulsory everywhere was mathematics, which tended to have a smaller allocation of time than language; in this case, the allowance was between 45 and 150 contact-hours with an average of about 60. Professional studies in mathematics are considered in detail in Chapter 9.

After language and mathematics, movement and the expressive and creative arts were most commonly found in the compulsory courses, although these frequently suffered from the wide range of practical skills which had to be covered in, perhaps, 60 to 90 hours of contact-time or even less. Where more compulsory time was still available, this tended to be given over to grouped or integrated courses covering the humanities or environmental studies or both.

In most of the colleges it was possible through the exercise of options to strengthen one or two subjects at the expense of others. Some primary students in most colleges could emerge from the degree course with only the most scanty background in music, drama, history, geography, health education, science and religious education. It was surprising to find that even in voluntary colleges, many students had no more than a token course in religious education.

Professional studies and secondary and middle years education

The pattern for the secondary or middle school subject specialist was somewhat different. The total professional studies allocation

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was generally smaller than for primary students, except in the case of the consecutive courses, and in addition to the 'general' units referred to above there were others which dealt with the methodology of the main subject (perhaps 60 to 100 hours' contact-time spread over a semester, two terms or a year) and sometimes a 'second teaching subject'.

For this, the professional training was usually less substantial and positioned later in the course. Where the course structure or the students' choice had not allowed the inclusion of two disciplines commonly found in schools, this second subject course (as has been indicated in Chapter 5) was often built upon slender academic knowledge.

Most secondary courses included some treatment of the theme of language, though with a few exceptions this was slight and fragmented and HMI had misgivings as to the quantity and quality of the provision. (See Chapter 8.)

Mathematics and integrated studies units figured less frequently in secondary courses but regularly in middle-years programmes. Sometimes optional courses allowed students to specialise in such areas as work with slow learners, the sixth-form, English as a second language and the problems of adolescence.

Any summary of professional studies courses, including curriculum coverage, would be incomplete without fuller reference to the role of general professional tutors who were briefly mentioned in the second paragraph.

A majority of the colleges, including all those operating a consecutive pattern, had chosen to designate a number of lecturers to take charge of one or two groups of about a dozen students concerned with the same age-range of children. Their function was to give coherence and completeness to courses which might otherwise lack them. Thus, as well as contributing specialist expertise in ordinary units of professional work, these tutors would regularly meet their groups to discuss all aspects of the course. They would organise additional visits to schools, help with preparation for block practice, supervise it and follow it up and also devise ways in which the group or individuals might make good deficiencies in their training.

Clearly, much depended on the energy and initiative of individual tutors and it was not easy to make a general assessment of the success of these schemes. They offered three advantages: they provided a durable relationship in what could be a rather fragmentary experience; they enabled the student's development to be seen as a whole; and they permitted particular gaps to be filled and strengths to be exploited.

Such general tutors appeared often to be attempting too much on their own and failing to enlist specialist help and advice where it was available. This danger was particularly marked for the intending secondary or middle school subject teacher.

Fourth-year programmes

The foregoing comments relate only to the three-year course. Since many students would qualify at the end of this period colleges had very reasonably decided that basic professional training must be completed by that stage.

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On the other hand, the honours year programme very often included a special study which was to incorporate school-based enquiry, and in some cases education studies could add to expertise in a very practical way; for example, in the field of multi-cultural education or of children with special needs.

In two colleges, curriculum theory and its applications could be pursued in sequence in the third and fourth years; and in another the third and fourth years of the honours course offered concurrent preparation, with final teaching practice in the fourth year.

Much of the work taking place in professional courses revealed that the students were well-motivated and the staff conscious of the needs of young teachers and the schools.

In the curricular courses where there was an adequate allowance of time, tutors were able to contribute to students' own understanding of a subject and of its relationship to child development, without ignoring the practical aspects of classroom organisation, lesson planning and assessment of pupil performance. It was usually pressure of time that led to a measure of superficiality and excessive concentration on immediate needs.

In many secondary courses, there was little anticipation of the challenges students would face in connection with the teaching of mixed-ability groups and with the needs of the older pupils of statutory school age. In one college much discussion of the problems of mixed-ability teaching was accompanied by well organised visits of fairly large groups of students to a school where this form of organisation was being practised. In another college filmed lesson sequences, portraying organisation of older children's learning in mixed ability groups and of younger children's work in vertical groups, were studied in professional courses, the aim being to provide experiences that for various reasons were not readily available directly.

HMI's main anxiety was not about the relevance and usefulness of what was being done but rather about the amount that was not being covered. Although the BEd course allowed no less time for professional preparation than the old Certificate course (and might in some cases allow more), it was often all too easy to point, as this report does, to important areas where treatment had been superficial or non-existent: education in a multi-cultural society, the needs of those children in the ordinary classroom who might be disadvantaged, physically or otherwise; health education; and major areas of the primary curriculum.

In more than one college, it was stressed to the visiting panel that the BEd course had been envisaged in the expectation that a period of planned induction would make good the acknowledged deficiencies of the initial training course. It was also pointed out, very reasonably, that no amount of timetable adjustment would produce more hours in the day. Colleges, encouraged by validating bodies, were trying not to fall into past errors of 'over-timetabling' students. In consequence, it was argued, some gaps must remain.

The place of professional studies in the total course is considered again in the final section of this report. At this stage, three points might be made.

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The greater the degree of freedom of choice of professional courses available to the student, the higher was the incidence of gaps disturbing to the observer with specialist concern for one or more of the areas listed in the previous paragraph. In a number of colleges which lacked proper safeguards such freedom, despite its compensating virtues, militated against informed planning and good counselling since there was often some doubt about whether future optional units would run. It also led to groups so heterogeneous in background that few assumptions could safely be made by the teaching staff. In certain cases students might choose to follow a professional course either before or after a period of school experience or related professional or education studies.

Secondly, it seemed imperative that the time which was available should be used with maximum efficiency. When staff were phasing out one set of initial training courses, introducing another and sometimes discussing a third, it was scarcely surprising that individuals should remain in ignorance of what their colleagues were doing. With the coming of more stability, high priority should be given to the writing and study of detailed syllabuses across the full professional range so that courses are as fully interlocking and complementary as possible.

Finally, as has been said, students committed to teaching reacted positively to whatever seemed to have direct relevance to their chosen profession. Despite the pressure for academic standards and the requirements of units planned for students who may never teach, it would seem desirable to attempt to gear subject studies, and more particularly education studies, more closely than at present to what is known of the curricular and other needs of the schools.

The cooperation of validators would be required to achieve this without any dilution of intellectual rigour, and HMI found enough examples of close links between subject studies and professional work in the colleges to demonstrate this possibility.

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7 School experience

This title requires little explanation. It embraces all student activities which are based in schools rather than college: guided tours of premises; observation with or without preliminary briefing or follow-up; personal investigation; testing of children; trial of materials for learning; teaching of individual pupils, groups or classes, alone, in student teams or in student/teacher/tutor teams; traditional 'block practice'.

Time allocations

All the colleges visited prescribed for students a minimum of 140 to 150 half-days in schools. This period normally covered the experience organised during the first three years but occasionally it included formal teaching practice within the fourth. The figure quoted was likely to be exceeded where students and their tutors chose to organise supplementary visits for specific purposes. One college had an organised programme of school experience which took up 220 half-days.

The considerable variation from college to college occurred in the distribution of this experience, in its nature and in its relationship to the rest of the course.

Nowhere in the concurrent courses did the students' first substantial contact with schools take the form of a block practice with a major commitment to class teaching over a period of several weeks. Three colleges organised a block practice in the third term and another organised one in the fourth. But in all four arrangements students would be cushioned against the shock of early exposure, either by a carefully planned series of half-day or day attachments or by part-time attendance at the start of the practice. This first block involved students with less than a whole class. A further college required students to undertake four weeks of relevant work-experience of their own choice at the end of the second semester: many who were already committed to a career in education decided to spend this time in schools doing teaching which was unsupervised by the college staff, while others found different forms of work which brought them into regular contact with children. All the students from the college in question had had some organised contact with schools before this stage.

School attachments

In several colleges, first-year experience was limited to a series of brief visits varying in length from half a day to a week. The most successful of these were integrated with education courses or, more commonly, with professional studies.

Students would use their time to gather material for discussion or analysis in college (concerning, for example, methods of class control, techniques of questioning, tapes of children's speech) or else they would put to the test skills and ideas recently acquired

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(such as the teaching of reading to individual children, or theories of socialisation),

Such visits were often made in groups with the regular or occasional support of a tutor. Visits were exploited to best effect only when both the head of the school and the assistant staff were clear as to the precise objectives.

Less useful, and unfortunately quite common, were visits where the students reported to schools armed with little more than an observation check-list and where class teachers were uncertain about the exact nature of the experience intended.

In this situation, teachers reacted in various ways: some urged students to take on a class-teaching role for which they were ill prepared, while others allowed them to spend the whole time in passive observation. Students might sometimes have shown more personal initiative in making known their needs and hopes but most of them appeared to have felt insecure and uncertain about their new status in institutions similar to those where they had so recently been pupils.

Inadequately prepared or sparse visits were often features of the first two years of consecutive courses, owing to the understandable reluctance of colleges and presumably of validators to agree, without careful consideration of priorities, to inroads into the time allowed for a heavy academic programme. In such a situation the detailed briefing and willing cooperation of the schools became particularly vital factors. Some of the concurrent courses, however, shared this same organisational weakness.

It cannot be too strongly stressed that individual students, class teachers and heads need a clear idea of the purpose of the visits and their relevance to the course at that stage. A general introductory letter to the head is not enough.

Colleges were rightly trying to prepare students for major teaching responsibility through purposeful observation and through other, graduated, forms or experience - sometimes reinforced by college-based micro-teaching. Almost all the students with whom school experience was discussed, however, thought it best that they should attempt full class teaching very early in the three-year period. Practice in individual or group instruction was felt to be no substitute, and the expressions of dissatisfaction over the delay in this part of their experience came from students on concurrent as well as on consecutive courses.

The reasons given were familiar: anxiety that until they had succeeded in this particular test they might find themselves unequal to their chosen career, and that the discovery might not be made until it was too late to change to another course; or concern that they were committing themselves to a particular age-range with very little evidence on which to base their choice. HMI recognised the good reasons which had persuaded colleges to adopt a more gradual approach; they were impressed with the performance in schools of some students whose first major contact had in fact been delayed. Nevertheless, students' anxiety was strong and widespread and some colleges had already gone some way towards meeting it by introducing into the early years at least one week in a single

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school so that those who wished might experience something of a teacher's responsibility. Elsewhere colleges turned a blind eye to what was happening in unsupervised practice either before the start of a course or outside the normal programme. More profitable use of this time might result from guidance of students, even at the earliest stage of their experience, towards perception of the teacher's organisation for individual, group and whole-class learning, followed by their recording and discussion of these observations.

Block teaching practice

In Chapter 6 it was stated that the second year was the major professional studies year in most concurrent courses. It was also the year in which many students had their first block of teaching experience - often three to five weeks during the fifth term, with a teaching load of 50 to 60 per cent of a normal timetable.

In most cases, the block period was prepared for by more than one preliminary visit to the school and by the writing of schemes of work which had to be approved by tutors. During the practice, students were required to keep a detailed record of the lessons they taught, of pupils' progress and of background factors relating to the school, the class and, usually, a number of individual pupils. The practice files were often voluminous and conscientiously maintained. In certain cases the burden of routine recording might profitably have been eased to allow more time and space for personal reflection and explicit analysis of day-to-day experience. In some colleges there were welcome signs of flexibility in the patterns of recording, especially for work in primary schools.

Supervision was regular, with visits at least once a week from one or more college tutors. Usually only a proportion of the supervision was carried out by tutors with specialist knowledge of the age-group, or the subject being taught, or both. HMI acknowledge the problems inherent in the deployment of specialist staff for this work but consider that the matter calls for more attention than it sometimes receives. A partial remedy may lie in the formulation and dissemination within a college of clear guidelines drawn up by those with relevant personal expertise for those of their colleagues who have less experience in the appropriate field.

It was generally agreed by college staff, teachers in schools and students that the major practices were of vital importance in the total BEd course. Sometimes new course structures were operating to the detriment of adequate preparation where, for example, the assessment of another unit of work kept students at full stretch until the eve of their practice.

In concurrent systems there were usually only two block practices, the final one taking place in the seventh or eighth term and lasting from five to eight weeks. The teaching load was usually somewhat greater in the final block practice than in the first - about 75 to 80 per cent of a full timetable - with work covering as much as possible of the curricular range which the student would expect to meet in his first appointment.

The very desirable concept of progressively greater demands in succeeding practices was widely accepted in colleges and sometimes made explicit in course descriptions, but it was not well understood

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(except in terms of timetable load) in the schools, where many chance factors governed what was demanded of students.

With the consecutive pattern, school experience, like professional studies, was largely compressed into a single academic year. Because of this and the greater maturity of students the element of observation tended to be reduced or absorbed into one early block practice which had limited objectives.

Practices on which students faced a major assessment were normally scheduled for the eighth or ninth terms. Where assessment was to be postponed to the ninth term, difficulties seemed likely to arise over the completion of the report forms for future employers which many final-year students would require in the spring. Where it happened in the eighth term a substantial amount of the time available for college-based professional work came after its completion, and that work would be related only retrospectively to major school experience.

HMI regarded these problems as significant. While schools, colleges and students valued the year of professional studies and experience, the necessary time for students' planned observation, the suitable timing of college studies and the administrative procedures of a student's final year presented severe challenges to the system. It is too early to judge whether the design of consecutive courses can meet them.

In one college the final block practice was planned for the fourth year, and in most of the other BEd courses an attempt was made to ensure that part of the fourth year honours work would bring every student into contact with schools.

Nowhere had this contact been quantified by colleges at the time of the visits, though one college hoped to be able to specify a minimum number of days in school. Usually the intention was that honours students should undertake a special project which would involve a small-scale enquiry or active teaching. Despite these plans, HMI had misgivings about the length of time which could elapse between the completion of the final block practice and the start of the honours graduate's teaching career: this could be 20 months in some instances. There was no evidence from the sample of colleges of the effect of such a hiatus.

In none of the colleges had the time for the final assessment of practical teaching been reached when the visit took place. Patterns of assessment varied considerably. In some cases only the final practice was assessed; in others earlier performance was taken into account. There were instances where the practical teaching was grouped, for this purpose, with part of the college-based professional course and others where it was counted separately. Commonly, assessment of teaching was on a pass or fail basis but finer grading was used in a few courses. Criteria for assessment were often listed and sometimes communicated to students and schools but nowhere were the individual factors given a firm weighting.


Before an overall assessment is made of the quality of school experience, two related matters need to be considered. The first concerns finance. Almost every college found it necessary on this ground to limit the number of student visits to schools or pupil

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visits to college, to restrict the amount of tutorial supervision which could take place, to make maximum use of the nearest schools, or to group students wherever possible.

While it is reasonable to seek sensible economy in the face of rising travel costs, this is an aspect of school experience which requires continuing attention lest some schools are over-used while others are neglected and lest placements are made with more regard to economy than to professional suitability.

The second matter concerns the breadth of school experience. It has already been stated in Chapter 6 that most of the professional studies courses tended to be specific to an age-range and this applied equally to the total school experience of many students.

Half- or whole-day visits were sometimes arranged to give a rapid tour d'horizon of the education system but it was possible and common for a student to carry out both or all block practices in the same type of school. While this degree of concentration may well bring certain advantages, it should be taken into account by those responsible for the employment and in-service training of teachers. Particular attention should be paid to middle school or middle years courses where local school organisation and financial considerations may combine to give a student experience exclusively at the junior or the secondary end of the chosen age range.

Criteria for assessment of quality

In assessing the quality of school experience HMI were guided by four main criteria:

i. the degree to which college staff, students and schools shared understanding of its meaning and purpose;
ii. the extent to which it was interrelated with the BEd course as a whole;
iii. its influence on a student's commitment to a particular age-range of teaching;
iv. the extent to which it progressively prepared the student to face the challenges he or she was likely to meet early in professional life.
All the colleges were actively attempting to promote a shared understanding of school experience in all its forms, and a minority were doing so successfully.

Reference has already been made to the liaison committees set up by almost every institution. Heads in the practice schools were regularly sent some documentation and were asked for reports on students' performance. Class teachers were quite often invited to read practice files and a minority had some officially (but variously) designated function in relation to supervision.

Where the system most frequently broke down, however, was at the class teacher level and particularly in relation to the forms of experience which had specific rather than general aims. The evidence of the survey suggests that without regular personal contact between tutors and the teachers directly concerned, written communication is likely to have little effect in removing misunderstanding.

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School experience and other parts of preparation for teaching

The relationship of school experience to the other elements of the course is a vexed question. Ideally, theory must be built on practice and practice informed by theory, and consequently most solutions would be open to objections about timing. But the interplay between them had been more carefully thought out in some courses than in others.

The best examples appeared to be those in which students were never too long without some substantial and purposeful school experience. The consecutive, and some of the concurrent, courses could be criticised on the ground that either the education elements or some professional elements had faded in the students' memory before being related to direct experience.

School experience appeared to reflect rather than to affect students' commitment to an age-range. As already stated, in both concurrent and consecutive courses the period for orientation was either very brief or little illumined by contact with schools.

Clearly, fifteen weeks or so of school experience, however deployed, cannot prepare the student for every eventuality. There could, on the evidence, have been more adequate preparation and more specific and planned attention to problems likely to be met by a new teacher. Such problems include the teaching of the most and least able, often in groups of mixed ability.

HMI welcomed the fact that a number of colleges were quite deliberately training students progressively to take responsibility for their classroom decisions and to be capable of analysing both the bases and consequences of them. In this way they would be enabled to face new classroom challenges with some confidence.

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8 Language and learning

Length of courses

There was wide variation across the institutions in the amount of time and resources allocated to language and reading. An equally marked contrast was to be found between the respective emphases given to them in the professional preparation of intending primary and secondary teachers.

With one or two conspicuous exceptions, the time allocation in primary courses was adequate - and in some cases almost prodigally generous. The range of student contact hours was from 40 to 180, with an average of some 90 hours. Half the colleges allotted less time to language and reading in middle school than in first school courses, reducing it by an average of 20 per cent. In these cases, the number of contact hours fell to a level which was thought by HMI to be inadequate for the task in hand.

This conclusion applied more widely and with even greater force to the professional preparation of intending secondary teachers. Only six of the ten colleges with secondary courses included language as a separate element of professional training, and the average length of course was 38 hours.

The remainder dealt with it in only a fragmentary and superficial manner in various education and general professional studies courses, for example psychology and child development.

Content and balance

When the content of syllabuses was analysed across institutions it became clear that there was also considerable variation in what it was felt an intending teacher should know about language and reading.

In planning their provision some institutions had succeeded in balancing the elements to make a well constructed course. In others, the course content reflected the strengths and interests of existing staff, or the largely unfettered choice of the student in selecting his or her options. For example, at two colleges, the emphasis in the 'language' course was upon children's literature, with very little attention to features of language growth in young children. In one of them the ratio of time given to children's literature and to language acquisition in the First School course was 9:1. At another institution on the other hand, an intending primary teacher could complete the BEd with no work at all on children's literature unless he or she took it up in an option. In two others the teaching of reading was seriously under-represented.

In those colleges where the course had been planned with care the balance and inter-relationship of parts were found to be very effective. Where this was not the case, the balance of the course often left much to be desired in terms of the needs of a future teacher. These will obviously differ according to the phase for which the student's course is preparing him, but in each case the essentials need to be identified and their inclusion assured.

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It is reasonable to expect all teachers to have an understanding of children's language development and the influences at work upon it. From this matrix different emphases can be developed in relation to phase and specialist interests. Intending primary teachers will need a more detailed knowledge of language acquisition and its relationship to the growth of reading. They need to be able to assess a pupil's linguistic performance and potential, and teach to it. Their course should thus include a study of the growth of writing ability, and their work on reading should encompass the continued development of skills after the early stages, assessment and diagnosis, and children's literature.

The most important need of secondary teachers, whatever their specialism, is an insight into the relationship between the learning of their subject and the language transactions through which it is conducted. This will take them into a study of pupil-teacher dialogue, reading for learning, the appropriateness of texts, and varieties of pupils' writing.

In the opinion of HMI such requirements cannot be met in a course of fewer than 90 hours of contact time.

Lack of depth

The lack of balance in some courses was often matched by excess of load, which made the treatment of certain topics very superficial. For example, there were several instances where the notion of 'language deprivation' was introduced so cursorily as to mask the deep complexity of the issue and its implications for the teacher's expectations of the children he/she would meet.

Nowhere was the crowding of courses so evident as in the reading demands made upon the students. Prescribed book lists were sometimes so unrealistic (eg four books on 'language and thought' to be read in association with one lecture) that students had recourse to a single simplified manual or to the 'handouts' from tutors. Where courses were modular this unreflective haste was sometimes aggravated by the need to complete a module within a given period for assessment purposes.

Moreover, some modules might be compressed by the occurrence in that term of a block teaching practice. In one instance 'Children and Books' and 'Art and Design' ran concurrently, and their respective heavy reading and practical demands imposed pressures that left little time to prepare for the teaching practice. It also encouraged a view of the module as 'out of the way' once it had been assessed. Whatever the structure, modular or otherwise, the pressure was heaviest where the time allocation was poor; lecturers felt the need to cover the ground and achieve some depth even where there was no time for it.

Coordination within courses

Language and reading were usually the subject of separate courses, with the language course almost invariably the longer. In these circumstances responsibility for reading usually lay with education or professional studies lecturers, and for language with the English department.

A healthier arrangement was sometimes to be found in a team approach, usually with a specialist acting as unit leader but with close cooperative working between team members. Where courses were

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staffed separately links were usually not well forged. Moreover, two areas of study which should be organically related were being allowed to develop in the minds of students as quite distinct. This was particularly noticeable in its effect on the reading course, the tendency being towards a narrowing of range.

The problem of ensuring cooperation between all staff to help students forge links between courses and impose a unity on scattered references was widely encountered. At one college the work on reading was spread through three different modules, and the staff found difficulty in making it coherent.

Even in those institutions with clearly defined language courses, it was uncommon to find the work within them related to the references to language in the education and professional studies units. Some of these units included material on socio- and psycholinguistics, but others did not. Lack of coordination between departments sometimes resulted in inadequate coverage of important topics, in duplicated effort, and occasionally even in conflict of treatment.

The effects were felt particularly by students preparing to teach in secondary schools. In their case the most notable effect of a lack of coordination was that upon the professional aspect or specialist subject work. Every subject department had the responsibility to prepare students for the professional demands of teaching the subject in secondary schools. No department had included in this preparation a consideration of the language implications of teaching that particular subject. There were individual lecturers in all of them who expressed keen interest in these matters, but in only two colleges had there been moves to set up inter-departmental dialogues.

Use of school experience

Most institutions had given a good deal of thought to ways of relating theory to practice through school experience. In some instances they were conspicuously successful.

One example was that of the college where the introductory professional primary unit was exceptionally well integrated with school attachment, so that students were able to bring back tapes of children talking and discuss them in the light of the theoretical aspects introduced by the tutor. At another the students were able to carry out a valuable assignment on 'miscues' in reading on their two-week attachment and bring back the results for group discussion.

In other colleges the variables at work made for great difficulties in relating theory to practical experience. One had found it necessary to postpone the block teaching practice to Year 3, thus putting a strain on earlier school attachment opportunities by submitting them to pressures from competing interests. In another, the highly theoretical language work of the early modules could not at that point be related to observation of children, and the resulting misconceptions were to be found in the students' written work.

Institutions had a wide variety of arrangements for student supervision during school experience. One obvious difficulty was the fact that a supervising tutor might lack the specialist knowledge to guide a student on some technical aspect of language or reading

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in his teaching. Some colleges had made clearly defined referral arrangements, so that a tutor could refer to a colleague any student meeting a problem requiring specialist guidance. One particularly effective arrangement was that of paired tutors, each pair having one member with the appropriate specialist knowledge.

Adequacy of courses

In most of the institutions, therefore, language and reading were being given serious attention in the training of primary school teachers. Generally speaking, they were being adequately prepared to meet the reading and more general language demands likely to arise in the first years of teaching. In this respect a few colleges made excellent provision.

There were, however, serious exceptions at the other extreme, and in such instances the length and content of courses provided insufficient preparation. The position was unsatisfactory for the majority of intending secondary teachers, who received very little help on language in the course of their training. Often it existed only in the form of uncoordinated fragments in the basic education and professional courses. Serious omissions from the latter included the role of language in the teaching of specialist subjects and the general issue of the interaction of language and learning.

Separate mention must be made of intending secondary teachers of English. In general, their professional preparation was carefully planned, with an accumulation of hours which made for generous provision.

In the view of HMI there is room for more thought to be given to the nature, quantity and placement of work on language and learning in the training of teachers. This would involve:

i. an informed assessment of the needs of the student in terms of his/her understanding of language in education in all its forms;
ii. provision planned to meet those needs, with a level of coordination aimed at conferring a unity upon it.

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9 Mathematics


In Chapter 6, comment was made on the efficacy of preparation of non-specialist teachers of mathematics. In each of the fifteen colleges an enquiry was made into all the courses of professional preparation for teaching this subject, whatever the age-range. An attempt was made to find some relationship between, on the one hand, the capacities and needs of the students, and on the other, the assumptions underlying the design of courses and the resources devoted to them.

It is scarcely necessary to say that the position of mathematics in the curriculum places a major responsibility upon all new teachers in primary schools, upon most in middle schools and upon many in secondary schools. All the colleges had acknowledged these needs in various ways.

Students' previous mathematical attainment

There was much variation in the confidence and mathematical insight brought by non-specialist students to their professional training. Possession of a pass in mathematics at Ordinary Level of the General Certificate of Education, or the equivalent, may of course sometimes offer little indication of a student's potential ability to teach the subject.

But direct observation, and the fact that, among the sample of colleges visited, the proportion of students without this attainment was usually between 30 and 45 per cent, indicated that many needed much enhancement of their knowledge and skill in this area. Confirmatory evidence of this need was that in two of the colleges well over a quarter of the whole intake to the BEd course had failed to reach a satisfactory standard in a simple test given to those who did not possess an O Level pass in mathematics. Remedial courses for such students were offered in more than half of the colleges but in only three were these courses compulsory for students thought to need them, and in one college the lecturers taught them outside timetabled hours. Undoubtedly such courses placed an undesirable burden on the colleges and. although the foregoing figures implied a large scale of need, the load upon the vast majority of students seen was already heavy enough.

It follows that unless colleges can assume a reasonable level of initial mathematical attainment among their students, the amount of teaching necessary to bring them to professional competence will overload them. Under present arrangements, however, those students who are in need of a remedial mathematics course should, in HMI's view, be required to pursue one.

Time allocations

Almost every professional studies course in mathematics seen by HMI appeared to be creating interest in the subject among the

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students. The size of student groups was usually between 15 and 20 but was occasionally between 25 and 30, and the range of mathematical ability within the groups was always considerable.

Tutors had often devised very careful approaches to their teaching and when the group-size was below 20, they were usually able to give individual students the kind of attention which was likely to promote progress. To sustain that progress, and to engender confidence in learning both mathematics and how to teach it, proved difficult when, as in seven of the colleges, the total time-allowance was small (60 hours or below) and when, as in five of them, the professional course was timed awkwardly in relation to school experience or teaching practice.

Even when, as in two colleges, professional studies as a whole occupied almost half of the degree course, the amount of time given to mathematics was not necessarily large. The distribution of total time allocations for professional mathematics courses for primary and non-specialist middle years students taken together ranged from 34 to 150 contact hours, with an average of 60; most frequently the figure lay between 40 and 65.

In HMI's view a total of some 90 hours, deployed suitably in relation to school experience and block practice, would be reasonable provided that students were mathematically ready for the work.

It was encouraging to find that a number of concurrent courses, in particular, offered through options substantial additional time for professional mathematics courses at primary or middle years level. Many students in need of this addition were not, however, taking advantage of it.

Collaboration among tutors

In most of the colleges specialist mathematics lecturers had rightly taken much initiative in the planning and teaching of professional studies courses at primary, middle and secondary levels.

Some recent major institutional changes had modified this position with the effect that collaboration among tutors responsible for professional and education studies, on the one side, and specialist mathematics tutors on the other, had decreased, to the evident detriment of the quality of mathematics in professional preparation. In view of such problems it is surely right to see professional studies as a centre of common interest for all the tutors working in anyone training institution.

Limitations to content

Even with a generous time allocation, professional mathematics courses relating to first school and middle years work were, necessarily, selective in their content. At their best they offered students points of departure which were related to important stages in children's mathematical development: in this way students were enabled to plan, for use in both school attachment and block practice, mathematical materials and activities appropriate to these stages. Interestingly, one college assessed its professional mathematics course partly on the basis of students' work with a small group of junior or infant children over a period of time.

The courses with the greatest time allocation were the ones proving most likely to succeed in fostering students' very necessary

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awareness of the major stages of children's mathematical growth though in some others, even where there was a smaller time-allowance, valuable insights into children's mathematical learning were being acquired as the course progressed.

In the professional mathematics courses as a whole there was room for more emphasis upon the place of language, and especially of discussion, in children's learning. This element received most attention in mathematics courses concerned with the education of young children.

A second common deficiency was related to the general organisational aspects of mathematics teaching: the planning of a classroom and of a scheme of work, the deployment of books and other resources, and the recording of pupils' progress rarely received substantial treatment. In a few colleges, however, there were excellent exceptions.

Students preparing for specialist teaching in the secondary or middle years received upwards of 70 hours of professional mathematics and usually between 80 and 90 hours. While one college prescribed a course of 180 hours (36 per cent of the total scheduled time for the year) in the pedagogy of mathematics for its fourth year honours students, there was no similar requirement in the other colleges.

The content of the professional courses for secondary and middle years specialists was often related closely to contemporary texts and some of it had, on such evidence as was available, been well-planned.

The semi-specialist mathematics courses in some institutions had, however, very little professional content.

In summary, mathematics for non-specialist students preparing for primary or middle years teaching was in general well planned but often had an inadequate time allowance and was awkwardly placed in the total course. Many students had insufficient initial mathematical attainment.

Teaching and other resources were usually substantial. Some courses were very closely geared to actual work in schools. The professional courses for specialists were adequate, but some for semi-specialists were meagre in content and time allowance. The relationship between students' needs and the colleges' approach to them was, in general, best when the time allowance was greatest. This was an observed fact rather than an inevitable outcome.


A full enquiry into the quality of major academic studies in mathematics as part of the BEd degree was beyond the scope of the survey. The investigation concentrated on such matters as:

i. the place of major mathematical studies within the whole balance of the student's course;
ii. trends in recruitment for such courses, the effects of those trends on the organisation of degree studies, and the educational and professional implications of those effects;

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iii. the broad content of studies, and the methods by which students were taught and assessed;
iv. the foundation which specialist students of mathematics were receiving in methods of teaching the subject.
In all but two of the fifteen colleges, mathematics existed as a major academic study in its own right. One of the remaining two colleges was a monotechnic offering no separate academic specialisms, while the other provided mathematics only as part of an elective foundation course combined with science, and subsequently as an option within studies of the primary school curriculum.

The pattern among the remaining thirteen colleges reflected the national trend: the majority had aimed at preserving specialist courses in mathematics as an area of teacher-shortage in the secondary schools, and therefore also as a subject for a secondary teacher's second specialism. Most students with mathematics as their main subject interest were training for secondary or middle years work.

Proportion of course time for specialist studies

Even within a full four-year BEd course, the proportion of content consisting of mathematics as a major academic study was, at the highest, rather less than 40 per cent, whereas over a full four-year preparation ending with the postgraduate certificate the proportion (allowing time for a subsidiary subject in an honours mathematics degree course) would be at least 60 per cent. Either course of preparation would, in addition, offer the professional aspects of mathematics teaching. Intrinsic inter-relationship of pedagogy and subject-matter is, however, particularly strong in the case of mathematics. No less than half of the specialist courses seen made it a focus of their approach.

Group sizes and viability

The demand for and acceptance of places on specialist BEd mathematics courses had in most colleges proved low, whether the courses were being pursued only by student teachers or by a more widely defined group. While this was also true of one of the three polytechnics, the small proportion of polytechnics in the sample renders generalisation invalid.

The specialist BEd mathematics courses (diversified and other) within the sample had on average 6.5 students per year-group: the variation was from two to thirteen. As already implied, diversified courses did not all fall nearer the upper end of this range of group-sizes.

A number of factors had evidently contributed to the small size of groups. First, while nine of the colleges made possession of A-level mathematics or the equivalent compulsory, most of them had found it difficult to attract candidates so qualified. Secondly, some colleges which did not impose this requirement had found it necessary to discourage a number of students from continuing a specialist mathematics course in view of the rigorous demands it made. Thirdly, the severe reduction in most colleges, in particular the free-standing colleges of higher education, in the provision of science as a major academic subject for the BEd degree had been accompanied by a correspondingly smaller demand for mathematics as a minor specialism, so that the staffing of mathematics

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departments, and therefore the range of options they might offer to major specialist students, had been reduced.

In the overall deployment of teaching power such relatively small group sizes had often undoubtedly compelled other departments in the college to subsidise the specialist mathematics course.

The survey shows that, while few mathematics specialist courses were any longer large enough to offer students wide-ranging options, many other specialist courses in the same college did offer such advantages. Sometimes these other courses resulted in groups as small as those for mathematics, though sometimes their students worked in much larger groups.

There are two further arguments for continuing to support mathematics as a major subject, even with relatively small numbers. First, the value of the high quality, found in most of the colleges, of its potential for teacher preparation must be recognised. Secondly, major courses in mathematics in a number of the colleges seen offered an important foundation for the understanding of children's mathematical learning. This level of teaching formed an intellectual base for the staff in other aspects of their college work. including in-service courses and the professional part of BEd courses for the broad body of students preparing for primary and middle years teaching, This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to maintain the mathematical element of professional preparation in colleges which do not offer mathematics at a high academic level.


In each of the thirteen colleges concerned the courses included substantial treatment of statistics and modern algebra and also some computing. There was a varying proportion of traditional algebra and analysis. In roughly half of the colleges the pursuit of individual mathematical investigation was encouraged: ostensibly for the sake of weaker students, this work was sometimes rigidly structured.

The range of content of the specialist course broadly met the basic needs of the teacher working with secondary pupils of all ages. Some causes of the lack of substantial options within most courses have already been mentioned. It was rare to find fields such as mechanics and mathematical astronomy receiving sustained treatment, and it is arguable that they have at least as important a place for the serious teacher of mathematics as have some of the compulsory topics found.

A minority of courses, however, enabled students to pursue guided reading in areas of their choice and in one this work culminated valuably in students' exposition, in college seminars, of knowledge in their chosen field.

Important applications of mathematics to other fields of study, in particular geography, economics and science, were seemingly absent from most of the specialist courses. They could have formed a particularly relevant part of the background of a future teacher of mathematics.

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Methods of teaching employed by colleges

In six of the thirteen colleges concerned, the major mathematics courses employed a variety of methods of teaching and learning including, as already mentioned, individual investigations.

In the remainder, the teaching appeared to be mainly by direct exposition, often in the belief that the students were of such calibre, and the demands of time so severe, as to preclude other approaches. There appeared to HMI to be room for greater flexibility even in these circumstances.

Pedagogy of mathematics

In six of the colleges mathematics as an academic study was pursued separately from the professional side. In these colleges, separate courses on mathematical pedagogy for future secondary or middle years teachers amounted to between 7 and 12 per cent of the students' total BEd course. Some students in the remaining colleges, however, received from such separate courses and from professional elements of their major mathematics course a total proportion of time much in excess of this figure.

While one college prescribed a course of 180 hours (36 per cent of the total scheduled time for the year) in the pedagogy of mathematics for its fourth-year honours students, there was no similar requirement in the other colleges. Within the major academic work in a BEd course, professional aspects were sometimes particularly well presented under the heading of mathematical education, covering psychological and mathematical aspects which combine in a way readily assimilable by keen students of mathematics.

The content of the professional courses for secondary and middle years specialists was often related closely to contemporary texts and some of it had evidently been well planned. The semi-specialist mathematics courses in some institutions had, however, very little professional content.

The assessment of major mathematical studies was, in most colleges, both by course-work and also by written examination of each unit of work on its completion.

In a minority, an examination paper would cover topics studied more than a year earlier. Weaker students appear to find this duality of assessment demanding and, in colleges where the whole degree course was divided into a large number of elements, the rhythm of their mathematical learning, and especially the time they could give to protracted reading, appeared severely limited. In one college, for instance, the timing of school experience prevented students from pursuing a vital element of pure mathematics which, in principle, was intended for BEd and BSc students working together. In such conditions the need clearly arose for a sequence of studies which would keep in balance a student's mathematical and professional development.

In none of the colleges had the fourth-year honours element of the mathematics specialist course started, and a search for common ground among the fourth-year BEd courses for specialist mathematicians failed to reveal clear characteristics. Most students would be required at that stage to continue the academic study of mathematics in some form. There was no clear trend: some courses

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would require students to study mathematics formally with assessment by written examination; others would expect an individual study in depth, leading to a dissertation; some would not demand continuance of the academic study and would allow concentration on the professional element of mathematics. It would seem desirable to include in the fourth year some systematised study of mathematical pedagogy with serious attention to school-based observation and investigation.

Some of the above considerations in regard to mathematics as a specialism within three- and four-year courses of teacher training are now drawn together. The limited evidence on which they are based allows only tentative generalisation.

The specialist courses invariably promoted students' intellectual development. They were severely demanding and, even though many of the students would evidently have been unequal to the requirements of a BA or BSc honours course, a number of them would, on successful completion of the BEd course, be satisfactorily placed for secondary school work at any age-level. A greater number would be suited to work with the younger secondary age-groups.

The economic viability of a number of the BEd specialist mathematics courses appeared questionable though, for reasons already given, their continuance would seem broadly justified.

Regrettably, the small size of student groups precluded the planning of more than a very few options within any specialist mathematics course seen. The consequent uniformity of the mathematical programme for the students on any one course could, however, prove a potential source of intellectual cohesion. The learning by the group of a common and central body of elements of advanced mathematics might be valuably followed by students' individual investigations in which that body of ideas was applied. The amount and quality of recruitment to some of the courses are a matter for concern, but at this stage in their development it would seem reasonable to await a possible growth in their reputation.

The shortage of mathematics graduates in secondary schools continues and, while schools may still seek primarily those teachers with a BA or BSc honours degree in mathematics, many of the equally scarce BEd mathematicians clearly offer much at both middle years and secondary level.

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10 Summary and suggestions

Previous Chapters of this report have offered an analysis of the new BEd courses, with comment. This final section summarises HMI's impressions and makes further recommendations.

The basic purpose of the survey was to assess quality in terms of the extent to which courses appeared likely to meet the needs of new teachers and their schools.

In an attempt to break down this criterion more specifically, the visiting teams of inspectors considered a number of aspects. These related to students' personal education, to the more immediate needs of teachers and schools and to longer term needs, and to the structure and content of courses.

Students' personal education

HMI assumed that BEd graduates should be educated in the broad sense: that they should be intellectually extended in at least one field or knowledge, wide-ranging in their interests and pursuits, and articulate.

The academic scope of syllabuses, the progressive demands built into most courses and the widespread insistence on regular assessment certainly combined to ensure that students had a substantial workload and were intellectually stretched. It has been said already (Chapters 3, 4 and 5) that there were instances of cramming to meet the immediate demands of assessment, and also that the academic ideals of course-planners and validating bodies were sometimes hard to reconcile with the practical concerns of students preparing for school experience (Chapter 6). The general picture, however, is not of this kind. Teaching methods and syllabuses were, for the most part, traditional but interpreted and applied in a liberal spirit. In many of the institutions there was a climate which encouraged students to articulate their thoughts both on the subject-matter of their course and on its structure. In these and other colleges, however, students were often reluctant to venture their own opinions and support them with argument, and teaching methods sometimes encouraged a tendency to passive listening and reliance on the lecturer as a source of knowledge.

Similarly, much of their writing was inclined to avoid expressing a reasoned personal viewpoint or making independent critical comment.

The BEd course did much to broaden the education of the many students who came to it with a relatively limited academic background. Primary/middle and a number of secondary professional courses brought undergraduates into contact with a wide range of human activity and thought through language, number, environmental studies, drama, movement, music and two- and three-dimensional art.

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Education studies introduced, usually explicitly, the relatively unfamiliar subjects of philosophy, psychology and sociology. The inevitable lack of depth in some of these experiences did not prevent them from enhancing students' personal education.

Immediate needs of new teachers and schools

It was assumed that schools would welcome new teachers who:

i. could relate easily and effectively to children
ii. would be sensitive to the special needs of certain individuals and groups within the ordinary classroom
iii. could approach confidently most normal tasks or organisation for learning
iv. knew enough of the content and enough about resources to meet likely curricular demands, and
v. had a clear conception of the role language must play in teaching and learning.
Each of these aims is now considered in turn.
i. In the organisation, supervision and assessment of school experience and in the preparation for it, all the colleges made plain in their teaching the crucial importance of good relationships with children.

ii. Early experience was often supported by courses in at least some aspects of child development. The compulsory elements or most courses did not, however, bring students towards much awareness of the special needs of certain categories of children, in particular those with a cultural background different from that of the majority or those whose learning was otherwise handicapped.

Expertise in both areas was usually present among a college's staff but it was made available chiefly in optional courses. Yet special needs such as these are likely to be encountered by any teacher in his first post.

iii. As was said in Chapter 3, experience was generally so graduated as to promote confidence, and in this respect many students had developed well. Colleges paid careful attention to some features of classroom organisation but certain common problems, notably that of coping with a wide ability or age-range within a given group, were often not tackled unless good practice was observable in local schools.

iv. The coverage of areas of the school curriculum by BEd courses was examined by HMI from two standpoints: that of the individual teacher and that of schools as a whole.

In regard to the former, secondary and middle-school specialists appeared to be receiving a sound academic grounding, though not necessarily one planned with schools' needs as a foremost consideration. Professional courses for such students were, on the whole, satisfactory in scope except where course structure or the restrictions of staffing left them with inadequate specialist help and supervision.

On the problem of curriculum coverage for the non-specialist teacher, colleges were well aware that any solution they adopted might be vulnerable to criticism. The tendency, indicated in Chapter 6, was to provide, in terms of time, reasonable coverage of language and number

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and to leave other areas of the primary school curriculum to rather more superficial compulsory courses which could be reinforced by options on certain topics. The time available for these other areas was, in general, sensibly used, but it was inadequate.

v. Chapter 8 describes how the importance of language was everywhere acknowledged but how, especially in courses for future secondary teachers, there was usually a lack of clear understanding of the problem on the part of many members of staff who contributed to the BEd course.

In so far as the broad curricular needs of schools, and in particular secondary schools, are identifiable, they do not appear to be met in terms of range by the present recruitment to BEd courses nor by the influence which the schools exert on students' choice of subjects.

Few students can be found with good initial attainment in such subjects as mathematics, physical science, craft, design and technology or modern languages. A number of monotechnic colleges or other free-standing institutions of higher education outside the polytechnics are, through a review of their range of courses, establishing patterns of specialist or generalist training, or both, which offer a good basis for a variety of teaching assignments. In many other institutions the signs are that well-resourced courses in subject areas in which recruitment is poor will be able to continue only if there is successful combination of BEd teaching groups with those concerned with other degree courses.

There are, moreover, major factors which dissuade students from re-orientating their studies towards areas of shortage after they have been accepted for teacher training. For instance, awareness of early and frequent assessment, where it exists, discourages some from venturing into new fields and acts rather as an incentive to build on existing foundations. These foundations are often preponderantly in the arts and humanities; students completing a BEd course with the ability to contribute effectively to science in primary and middle schools may well be few.

The teacher's long-term needs

In considering teachers' long-term needs, HMI assumed that the profession would expect holders of the degree to have the will and power to continue their education and training and to face future changes flexibly.

Predicting the long-term effects of a degree course which is in only an early stage of growth is hazardous, but significant indications were sought.

Several course descriptions stated the hope of laying foundations for continuing professional development. In terms of knowledge, most subject studies and many education studies courses appeared likely to achieve this aim.

As has been indicated, the education studies were handicapped by the time available in which to tackle several disciplines. In both areas there were attempts to establish the habits and techniques of analysis, including self-analysis. Often students were required to apply these to their own teaching performance and this appeared to HMI a most fruitful practice.

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It is never easy to train for adaptability to change, but the very nature and structure of the BEd course obliged students in many institutions constantly to face new topics, people, places and decisions. More might have been done to make students aware of existing opportunities for in-service training and professional development, but there were signs that this deficiency would be at least partially remedied in the final stages of a number of courses. A valuable means of fostering attitudes favourable to continuing education and training was the in-service activity in the colleges themselves and in some of the practice schools.

The structure and content of courses

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 mention both the constraints imposed on and the opportunities presented to colleges by factors outside the control of those who plan BEd courses.

Such factors include decisions about the size of intake, mergers with other institutions and the claims of diversification and of staff development. The variety or structures also reflects different responses to the many dilemmas faced by teacher-trainers: coherence/freedom of choice; flexibility/simplicity; breadth/depth; immediate/long-term needs; concurrent/consecutive training; early/delayed commitment to teaching. Responses were necessarily so individual that only broad generalisations about them are possible.

Given a reasonable assurance of their educational and economic viability, a diversity of course-structures among initial BEd courses is not, on the evidence existing of the survey, at odds with likely effectiveness of preparation for teaching.

It would, indeed, seem desirable for many institutions to retain, in the medium term, the existing basic structure of their BEd courses, unless strong evidence of the need for change arose. Staff as well as students show signs of bewilderment and fatigue after a course of initial training has undergone continuing innovation.

Consequently the quality of guidance suffers and, perhaps even more fundamental, the energies of staff are absorbed in adapting their work to new patterns rather than in assessing the value of their contribution in the light of the whole course.

Avoidance of fragmentation of studies

Recent trends in organisation and structure have introduced the possible danger of fragmentation within courses of training, and in the circumstances it has become increasingly hard for individual tutors to view the initial preparation of teachers as a single total enterprise.

A basic need would seem to be the designation of a member of staff, responsible to the Director or Principal for the BEd course as a whole, with sufficient seniority to make direct representations to the validating body and to whatever faculties, schools or departments contribute to the course. Many, but not all, of the colleges visited had made such an appointment.

A second integrating factor at a different level would be a system of personal tutors who, viewing the whole course from the standpoint of each student, would offer continuity of guidance and be expected to make known to their colleagues the possible links

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between the different parts of the student's programme, as well as the serious omissions which might occur.


All the college tutors concerned with a BEd course should work towards a consensus in which each is encouraged to demonstrate, in his contact with students, sensitivity to the need for coherence in the whole pattern of studies for the degree. In such a consensus each tutor would be expected to:

i. understand and convey to students the significance of knowledge derived from the principles of education, both for the day-to-day decisions of a new teacher and also for the more far reaching decisions to which, as a member of a professional team, he would be required to contribute quite early in his career;
ii. manifest in his teaching an awareness of the relationship of language to learning;
iii. make clear to students the contribution of his own subject or other specialism to the school curriculum as a whole;
iv. relate the work being done by a student to knowledge, skill and experience which he may have gained in other parts of the degree course.
It is doubtful whether these expectations can be realised without sustained discussion, of these four - among others - principles by teacher trainers and other teachers in higher education.

HMI believe that the contributions of education studies, professional studies and school experience to the total course should be integrated to an extent not yet achieved in the majority of colleges visited.

To the experienced teacher, the relevance of parts of an education studies syllabus to his daily tasks may be relatively clear. For the student it is often not so: facts and opinions may be looked on as matters for re-statement in some standard form when required. Tutors of professional studies courses are, however, hard-pressed to cover the practical aspects of their subjects in relation to the theoretical foundations. It would seem that many of the appropriate lessons of psychology, philosophy, sociology and history or education would be better assimilated if, as in some colleges, they were introduced in direct relationship to specific teaching and learning problems. These problems, in turn, would be more real to the students if based on their experience of children.

Thus guided observation, testing, work with individual pupils, group teaching, micro-teaching, team teaching and class teaching could well interact, throughout the course, with student activities in professional and education courses. The problems attending such a policy are not to be underestimated: designing and timing suitable items of school experience in precise correspondence with elements of the college course are bound to present difficulties. But this policy could be implemented within existing course structures to a much greater extent than was evident.

There were still examples of relatively aimless short visits to schools, of teachers' uncertainty about their function in relation to students' needs, and of early block teaching practices in which the

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student, though carrying a light teaching load, was not asked to collect information relevant to his education studies.

This policy might cause some of the formal rigour, though not the coherence or the intellectual demands, of the disciplines of education studies to be sacrificed. For students' heightened interest and involvement, and for a possibly more intellectually satisfying approach to professional training, dispensing with the learning of educational theory prior to planned observation and direct participation may well be a prerequisite.

The present general foundation courses in the disciplines of education have in some colleges pared down the content to the point at which they can scarcely fulfil their purpose as a springboard for further study. On the limited evidence available, it seems likely that an approach to theory through problems would be just as effective in stimulating students to undertake more systematic study in some of the disciplines of education in later professional life. There are no substitutes for the maturity of experience on which the practising teacher can reflect when considering principles of education.

Subject studies lend themselves less readily to such professional reorientation, especially since they are frequently geared to the needs of many students who have no wish to teach.

But whether a BEd student is undergoing a concurrent or a consecutive form of training, and whatever the structure of his academic subject course, the very necessary intellectual depth of that course should be complemented, within the total degree course, by a professional emphasis to which it is suitably related.

It is to the credit of the colleges that they have managed, in one of the most turbulent periods of their history, to evolve and operate a degree course which meets many of the claims of personal education and, at the same time, recognises many of the demands of professional training. The interdependence of colleges and validating bodies is likely to ensure that future developments will do much to build on the particular strengths of training institutions.

This report has suggested some of the main considerations which might be borne in mind in the planning of those developments.

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Five course structures (semester pattern)

Key: E education student; P professional studies; S subject studies; X school experience (these being broadly indicative). Figures denote number of contact hours per week