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Using Research Evidence to Enhance the Scottish Teacher Induction Scheme

D Robson, M A Pearson

The General Teaching Council For Scotland
Clerwood House
96 Clermiston Road
Edinburgh EH12 6UT
(e-mail contact : dean.robson@gtcs.org.uk )

Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan, 14-17 September 2005

Synopsis

The Scottish Teacher Induction Scheme was first implemented in academic session 2002/03, providing the opportunity for probationer teachers to achieve the Standard for Full Registration (SFR) and become fully registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. The scheme provides probationer teachers with a more structured induction experience, within the increasingly strong context of whole career Continuing Professional Development (CPD), than ever before. As part of the scheme, probationers are guaranteed a 0.7 FTE teaching commitment with a 0.3 FTE component for CPD. Each probationer is allocated a 0.1 FTE supporter / mentor who provides on-going supportive guidance.

During 2004, a quantitative research analysis was undertaken to provide detailed information regarding the 2003/04 implementation of the Teacher Induction Scheme. Specific components of the information enabled a critical analysis of the 2003/04 activities to be undertaken. The components assessed were the frequency, variation and nature of supporter meetings, observed sessions and CPD activities.

Using supporting illustrative data gathered from the 2004/05 Teacher Induction Scheme, this paper outlines how aspects of the accumulated 2003/04 research evidence have been effectively used to develop guidance which has subsequently enhanced the scheme.

1 Introduction

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) believes that the Standard for Full Registration (SFR), published in 2002 (GTCS 2002a, GTCS 2002b), is an important milestone for the teaching profession in Scotland. It sets out clearly what is expected of new teachers during their induction process and provides a professional standard against which decisions will be taken on an individual’s progression from provisional registration to full registration. It also provides a structure for schools and employers developing the first stage of the new national framework for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for all Scottish teachers (SEED 2001).

As probationer teachers work towards the SFR, they need guidance and support to address specific development needs. This support has been delivered through structured induction programmes organised by local education authorities and schools. Monitoring of the progress of the probationer is facilitated by the use of Interim and Final profiles which are submitted to the Council in December and May respectively each year. The profiles enable recording of supporter meetings, observed teaching sessions and CPD activities. Recorded information indicates the progress of the probationer in relation to the key components of the SFR, and enables targets and actions for future development to be defined. The information presented in the profiles constitutes an important part of the evidence used as a basis for decisions regarding progress to full registration.

To enable the progress of the scheme to be closely monitored and continually enhanced, the Council has initiated a programme of annual quantitative profile analyses. This programme commenced during the first year of the scheme. The first detailed analysis of data recorded was carried out on these Interim and Final profiles submitted to the Council in academic session 2003/04 which indicated satisfactory probationer progress. The analysis, carried out on a national and local authority basis, focussed on the number and nature of supporter meetings, observed sessions and CPD activities, and enabled the Council to evaluate the quality of support provided in relation to initial guidelines set out in the SFR. The findings of the research analysis were used to aid the development of Council guidance and recording vehicles with the objective of enhancing the support provided to probationer teachers and the associated profile recording process.

A similar analysis has been carried out on these profiles submitted to the Council in academic session 2004/2005. In this paper, specific examples of data gathered from the Interim profiles submitted by Primary and Secondary sector probationers in December 2004 are used to exemplify the influence of the guidance and recording vehicles developed.

2 2003/2004 Profile Analysis : Findings and Outcomes

The main findings and outcomes emerging from the 2003/2004 analysis are presented in the sections below.

2.1 Numbers of Activities

Table I shows the recorded numbers of each activity type in the Primary and Secondary sectors (national mean and range of local authority means).

 

Primary

Secondary

Activity Type

Interim

Final

Interim

Final

 

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Supporter Meetings

10.8

6.4 – 14.8

10.6

6.4 – 16.6

13.2

7.3 – 18.5

12.3

6.0 – 17.4

Observed Sessions

4.6

3.8 – 5.6

4.6

3.4 – 5.5

5.1

4.2 – 10.0

4.8

3.0 – 8.6

CPD Activities

28.9

21.0 – 37.1

29.7

22.8 – 43.0

28.4

19.5 – 41.3

25.1

18.8 – 32.8

Table I : 2003/2004 Analysis – Numbers of Activities

The national mean values of supporter meetings and observed sessions align reasonably well with defined initial guidelines (Robson and Pearson, 2004). No specific recommendations on numbers of CPD activities were initially made, the guidance focusing on the need to undertake an appropriate range of activities spanning the inter-related professional activities defined in the SFR. The range values for all data sets indicated some inconsistency in practice across the local authorities, in some cases relating directly to the local mentoring models used or local CPD provision. The Council discussed the models and quality of provision in partnership with these authorities, and re-emphasised the guideline requirements in updated 2004/2005 documentation.

2.2 Nature of Activities

The focus of Supporter Meetings were generally ill-defined with catch-all categories dominating (see Figure 1 for a typical data set). The recording forms for 2004/2005 were updated to enable focus coding (aligned with specific areas of the SFR) and the associated guidance developed to encourage the specification of focus in advance of each meeting.

Figure 1 : 2003/2004 Supporter Meeting Focus (Primary Sector)

The focus of Observed Sessions were also typically ill-defined in the profile data (see Figure 2 for a typical data set). In addition, the categorization of observed session by class (primary set) and time of observation (see Figure 3) were unspecified in the vast majority of cases. Again, the recording forms were updated to ensure more detailed recording on a more routine and consistent basis.

The CPD activity data indicated that probationer teachers had access to, and appeared to be attending, a range of activities. The information presented on the profiles did not clearly indicate how CPD activities matched specific SFR requirements, or provide data on the balance of activity undertaken. The profile format was enhanced to enable CPD activities undertaken to be aligned with specific aspects of the SFR, and categorized as local authority or school driven activity. Profile recording requirements were reinforced in GTCS documentation and at appropriate meeting of local authority representatives and stakeholders.

3 Research Objectives

The main objectives of the 2004/2005 research were:

(i) to provide data to enable comparison with the results of an analysis of the 2003/2004 profiles (GTCS 2004);

(ii) to provide more detailed information on the nature of activities undertaken with particular reference to the requirements of the Standard for Full Registration (GTCS 2002a, GTCS 2002b);

(iii) to assess the influence of the new guidance and recording vehicles on the 2004/2005 recording process;

(iv) to provide an evidence base to further inform any developments/improvements that might be subsequently made in the recording process and the format of the Interim and Final Profile forms.

Only specific aspects of the research are reported here.

4 Research Methodology

Profile data was recorded in Microsoft™ Excel spreadsheets and analysed in a similar manner to that outlined previously (Robson and Pearson 2004). The average number and range of specific activity types was calculated, and detailed analysis of particular aspects of each undertaken. These aspects were pre-selected taking account of the detailed information presented in the SFR document (GTCS 2002a). The aspects recorded were tailored to match the experiences of Primary and Secondary sector probationers, and are summarised in Table II.

Activity Category

Recorded Parameters

Supporter Meetings

Average number of meetings

Range in number of meetings

Proportion (%) of meetings with single / multiple / no specified focus

Proportion (%) of meetings in each of the 24 Focus Categories defined in the SFR, spanning the key areas namely Professional Knowledge and Understanding, Professional Skills and Abilities and Professional Values and Personal Commitment.

Observed Sessions

Average number of sessions

Range in number of sessions

Proportion (%) of sessions with single / multiple / no specified focus

Proportion (%) of sessions by class

Proportion (%) of sessions by time of observation

Proportion (%) of sessions by subject (Primary)

Proportion (%) of sessions by study level (Secondary)

Proportion (%) of sessions in SFR Focus Categories

CPD Activities

Average number of activities

Range in number of activities

Proportion (%) of activities in SFR Focus Categories

(All calculated for entire population and population split by school and local authority categories)

Table II : Analysis of Probationer Activity

5 Research Sample

The data presented in Table III shows the number of 2004/2005 Interim profiles analysed. The scale of the analysis is reflected in the numbers of activities analysed (see Table IV).

 

Interim Profiles

Primary

1041

Secondary

929

Total

1970

Table III : Profile Sample

 

Interim

Activity

Primary

Secondary

Supporter Meetings

9843

9852

Observed Sessions

4862

4363

CPD

Activities

29135

30018

Table IV : Number of Activities Analysed

6 Results and Discussion

In this section, selected data gathered from the analysis of the 2004/2005 Interim profiles is used to exemplify how the development of an enhanced profile format and updated guidelines have influenced activities in the Scottish Teacher Induction Scheme.

6.1 Numbers of Activities

Table V shows recorded numbers of supporter meetings and observed sessions. Table VI shows recorded numbers of CPD activities undertaken subdivided to school and local authority activities.

 

Supporter Meetings

Observed Sessions

 

Primary

Secondary

Primary

Secondary

Mean Number of Meetings/ Sessions

Range of Local Authority Means

9.4

6.0– 12.0

10.6

8.9 – 14.2

4.7

3.8 – 5.2

4.7

3.5 – 5.1

% Meetings/Sessions with:

· Multiple Focus

· No Specific Focus

· Single Focus

 

76.2

0.8

23.0

 

73.5

1.4

25.1

 

61.5

6.7

21.8

 

64.1

8.3

27.6

Table V : 2004/2005 Interim – Supporter Meetings and Observed Sessions

 

Primary

Secondary

All Activities:

· Mean

· Range of Means

 

28.0

17.2 – 52.5

 

31.2

18.9 – 85.9

Local Authority Activity Mean

School Activity Mean

10.8

17.2

12.9

18.3

Table VI : 2004/2005 Interim - CPD Activities

By comparison with the data in Table I, it can be seen that numbers of supporter meetings, whilst becoming more equitable across the sectors, have reduced to a level which, it is recommended, should drop no lower. Observed sessions remain at levels closely aligned with initial guidelines. It is encouraging to note that the ranges of activities across the 32 local authorities are all narrowing indicating more consistent practice across the country than in 2003/2004. Numbers of CPD activities are similar to those previously calculated, but the ranges indicate a wide variety of practices across the local authorities. In both sectors, probationers undertook more school based than local authority based CPD activities, but as indicated before the balance of activities spanning the SFR is more important than the actual number of activities undertaken.

6.2 Nature of Activities

6.2.1 Supporter Meetings

The data in Table V shows that only a small proportion of supporter meetings had no defined focus. The vast majority of meetings had a multiple defined focus. It is envisaged that in time supporters and probationers will become more accustomed to focusing meetings on one or two aspects of the SFR, in turn fostering more detailed reflection on specific aspects of the probationers experiences. Indeed the profile forms to be used in 2005/2006 have been updated to encourage this approach.

More accurate recording of the focus of the meetings has enabled those aspects of the SFR which are most frequently discussed to be highlighted. Figure 4 shows the situation for the 2004/2005 primary sector probationers. As can be clearly seen, the two SFR areas of Planning and Assessment, Recording and Reporting dominate, but the profile also highlights the broad range of topics covered in supporter meeting discussions.

Figure 4: 2004/2005 Supporter Meeting Focus (Primary Sector)

6.2.2 Observed Sessions

Specification of the focus of observed sessions showed similar characteristics to that of the supporter meetings and 2005/2006 forms have been appropriately updated. Figure 5 shows the focus of observed sessions for the 2004/2005 secondary sector probationers. As may have been expected, many of the sessions were focused on those aspects of the SFR categorized under the heading Professional Skills and Abilities such as Interaction with Pupils and the Organisation of Resources. Figure 6 indicates that the enhancement of the recording forms has impacted positively on the recording of the time of observed session, when compared with the data in Figure 3.

Figure 5: 2004/2005 Observed Session Focus (Secondary Sector)

Figure 6: 2004/2005 Time of Observed Session (Primary Sector)

6.2.3 CPD Activities

Figure 7 shows the breakdown of CPD activities undertaken by secondary probationers split by school and local authority activities. Clearly CPD activities spanning the entire SFR are being undertaken but not in an equitable fashion. The graph also highlights that specific areas are being heavily covered by both school and local authority programmes with potential scope for duplication. The school/local authority partnership needs to ensure that probationers are given the opportunity to experience a balanced CPD programme appropriate to their needs and spanning the SFR.

Figure 7: 2004/2005 Focus of CPD Activity (Secondary Sector)

7 Conclusions

This paper has illustrated that detailed quantitative research analysis can provide a rich evidence base to support the enhancement of a national scheme and local practices therein.

The Council will continue to monitor progress of the Scottish Teacher Induction Scheme in detail on an annual basis. Parallel research, currently in progress, is providing additional qualitative data concerning the scheme. These studies provide detailed and timely information for a range of stakeholders.

References

GTCS (2002a). The Standard for Full Registration. Edinburgh,GTCS.

GTCS (2002b). Achieving the Standard for Full Registration. Guidance for New Teachers. Edinburgh, GTCS.

GTCS (2004). Achieving the Standard for Full Registration. 2003-2004 : Review.Edinburgh, GTCS.

Robson, D. & Pearson, M.A. (2004). The Standard for Full Registration. Evaluation of Current Practice in the Teacher Induction Scheme in Scotland. Presented at British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, Manchester, 15-17 September 2004. [http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00003686.htm ]

SEED (2001). A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century. Edinburgh, The Scottish Executive.

This document was added to the Education-Line database on 06 October 2005