Reflections on Teacher Education in the Four Nations of the United Kingdom

Author/Producer ESCalate - Dr Jane McKie and Alison Jackson
  • Alison Jackson (St Martin's College)
  • Jane McKie (ESCalate - University of Stirling)
Date Published Autumn 2006
Pages 43
Download pdf 712KB


A research paper on teacher education across the four nation states of the UK. A limited number of paper copies have been published


[A]ny education system, at any given point in time, is a combination of the past, the present and the future. The past is represented through aims and values, and the mode of working and expectations of the teaching force. For many teachers, the defining years are those in which they are trained and first enter the profession. (Le Métais, 1997:4)

The aim of this ESCalate funded research was to collect some commentary on the ‘defining years’, suggested here by Le Métais, from teacher educators and other educational professionals in the UK. The study into Initial Teacher Education (ITE) was conducted in the first half of 2005, it is cross-national in that it refers to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and intranational in that it invites comparison between the approaches taken in these four nations. There are significant differences in national approaches to the regulation and status of teacher education and this investigation seeks to discuss the effects of these differences. Following brief background notes, comments from educational representatives of the four nations are reported. There are three sections to these comments; firstly, aspects of education policy and significant local considerations are presented; secondly, the perception of professional identities of teacher educators and teachers is investigated with some discussion of teacher educators as researchers; thirdly, future challenges as perceived by the participants are discussed. After the presentation of comments from the participants, there is a general discussion based on the report. Finally some questions and possibilities for debate, suggested by the report are presented for those involved in teacher education in the four countries of the UK.

This study is qualitative and took the form of semi-structured interviews with ITE providers and education policy-makers in the four nations of the UK. For all countries, the roles and responsibilities of participants varied; we tried to encompass expertise across primary and secondary schooling. In every case we have strived to protect the anonymity of our participants, however, for purposes of clarity in the text, coding of the participants has been used. It is hoped that this report – although necessarily a limited snapshot of thoughts about policy and practice at a particular point in time – will be of interest to those working within Initial Teacher Education in the four nations of the UK. The points of similarity and divergence provide an insight into the constraints and opportunities of policy and practice in 2005/6 that can be both a tool for reflection and a stimulus for dialogue across borders.