Changes to the duration and content of all initial teacher education programmes were made in response to recommendations in the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020 and were incorporated into the Teaching Council’s Policy Paper on the Continuum of Teacher Education and Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers. Both were published in 2011.
Improvements which were made to initial teacher education courses include the reconfiguration of the content and duration of courses, with the duration of concurrent (undergraduate) ITE programmes set at a minimum of four years while the consecutive (postgraduate) programmes of teacher education are set at two years, thereby facilitating an innovative re-conceptualisation of programmes.
The lengthened and reconfigured programmes include substantial periods of school placement as central to student teacher development and a number of mandatory elements including literacy and numeracy, teaching, learning and assessment including school and classroom planning, differentiation, behaviour management, inclusive education (special education, multiculturalism, disadvantage, etc) and ICT in teaching and learning. These reforms focused on improving the quality of teaching in schools, which is central to the educational outcomes of our children.
A first cycle of review and accreditation of all 70 ITE programmes, in accordance with these policies, was completed in 2015.
The Teaching Council is currently undertaking a review of the impact of the reconfigured ITE programmes and also of the Criteria and Guidelines, which will feed into an update of the procedures and criteria documentation. This review has involved an Impact Consultation Exercise which engaged with current and former ITE students, alongside other stakeholders. This will inform the next cycle of review and accreditation of all ITE programmes, primary and post-primary, which is due to start in 2020.
In addition to the Teaching Council’s work, there are a number of other developments underway in relation to Initial Teacher Education policy and landscape, through the Teacher Supply Action Plan and the recent publication of The Structure of Initial Teacher Education: Review of Progress in Implementing Reform. My Department has commenced work on the development of a comprehensive Policy Statement for Initial Teacher Education, in collaboration with the Higher Education Authority and the Teaching Council and stakeholders in the higher education sector.