Voice Official Response 1038: Review of Teacher Education in Scotland

Voice Official Response to Scottish Government consultation


Review of Teacher Education in Scotland

This response is made on behalf of, and in consultation with, the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) of Voice: the union for educational professionals.

SEC determines union policy with regard to pay, conditions, and all other educational matters in Scotland.

PGDE Course

The PGDE course is extremely rushed. There is very little time for professional theory discussion, which results in a lack of balance in the course. Students have a great deal to cover in the time available and this often results in corners having to be cut to fit everything in. There is a great deal of inconsistency in the time allocated to subjects in the universities which leads to an imbalance in preparing students for teaching.

Students placements are also very rushed .There is a very steep learning curve for the students, with great emphasis on planning, compiling portfolios and not sufficient time in class working with the pupils. There are a lot of boxes to tick but we would question the validity of much of this in preparing teachers for the workplace.

Curriculum Development and Support

There is a lack of clarity about what is provided by the universities in preparing students for teaching and what is happening on the ground in the schools. There is a need to develop much clearer links between ITE’s and schools on curriculum development and support.

Modern Languages/Science in Primary Schools

Student teachers in the primary sector who have school qualifications in languages/science should be able to obtain an optional qualification in modern languages/science to offer a boost to the teaching of modern languages/science in primary schools.  At present many  newly qualified primary school teachers feel ill prepared in these areas and often the visiting teacher provision is lacking/being curtailed, which will further disadvantage pupils.


There needs to be more interaction between the trainers, LTS and local authorities. Quite often students have to spend valuable time on seeking information and make arrangements which should be in place. Greater partnership and organisation are required to ensure that students have a good experience and can make best use of their limited time in Initial Teacher Education.

Support for Schools 

A vital part of the Initial Teaching training is the placements in schools and there is considerably variation in the experiences that students have. It is not unusual for students to be placed with supply teachers. While some schools are well resourced and provide an excellent training ground for students, we are concerned about the lack of resources in some schools. In recent years, there has been the expectation that schools will have a student on placement, irrespective of other factors, which may mean that difficulties could have been foreseen.

Increasingly there is a greater onus on the teacher to pass/fail final report. There are, in many instances, less visits from tutors. We have knowledge of students being criticised by tutors but the class teacher feeling the student has done well.  It is very important to engage more directly with schools where students are to be placed to try to avoid this happening. Undoubtedly there is considerable variation in the quality of experience enjoyed by students and it is necessary to have more quality control to reduce these discrepancies. Sometimes pressure is exerted on staff to pass students who have not made the grade – this is in no-one’s interest and this certainly needs to be addressed.

Maureen Laing
Senior Professional Officer for Scotland
Voice the union for education professionals

1-3 St Colme Street
Edinburgh EH3 6AA

Further information:

Review of Teacher Education in Scotland



Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) Maureen Laing
Email: scotland@voicetheunion.org.uk

Tel: 0131 220 8241