The University of Warwick in partnership with schools: Developing an ambitious ITE Curriculum
Over recent years, at the Centre for Teacher Education (CTE) there has been an ongoing development of an ambitious ITE curriculum that preceded the new inspection framework and has since been aligned with changes in the Department for Education’s policy expectations of the ITT Core Content Framework (CCF).
This work has involved consultation and collaboration with our schools’ partnership. The initial work is founded on the development of the Warwick Teacher Values of social justice, intellectual curiosity, and creativity.
The values were developed in consultation with school partners to ensure a coherent approach to curriculum aims and design. These three Warwick Teacher Values have underpinned the development of the curriculum for both primary and secondary PGCE courses. In both phases, a model of value-based strands run across the curriculum and the progression of knowledge and skills related to the values. The national CCF is then mapped and integrated within this value led curriculum model.
Ambitious ITE Curriculum
We view the CCF as a minimum ITT curriculum entitlement where course leaders build on this content to develop and deliver a rich and ambitious ITT curriculum that prepares a Warwick trainee teacher for the classroom, school life and a fulfilling teaching career.
A key feature of the new curriculum is the close integration of university and school-based components of the curriculum.
With a large and complex partnership, this entails a degree of adaptability in the way in which the planned university elements integrate with a more individual school-based strand of training. Central to this integration is the development of student agency in understanding how the components mesh, and taking a lead in identifying a personal curriculum strand that responds to individual needs in the school setting.
The integration of the planned and personal strands of the curriculum is supported by the development of an instructional coaching model of mentoring in schools, and a new assessment framework for school-based practice. The new assessment framework puts the trainee and school at the centre of developing practice through engagement with training elements in school. This is strongly supported by university tutors and has led to the development of a growing online toolkit for school mentors. University teaching is also adaptive and responsive to students’ personal curricula in providing peer-led communities of practice for reflection and expert input from university teaching staff.
The new assessment approach is based on key principles of assessment that are founded on the Warwick Teaching Values. These principles articulate the importance of assessment as a source of professional development and improvement, rather than judgement. A weekly assessment cycle is built around an instructional coaching model to support trainees in identifying action steps to change practice. Longer cycles of assessment of professional practice are dialogic, but at the same time provide clear feedback against expectations of practice in response to engagement with the curriculum.
The next phase of curriculum development is to strengthen the investment and engagement of partnership schools in moving this integrated and ambitious curriculum forward and to sustain its effectiveness across a widespread partnership.
We are confident that the values-led and ambitious partnership curriculum which we have progressed, despite the impact of the pandemic, will prepare us to respond to DfE policy changes whilst staying true to the central Warwick Teacher Values. Ongoing developments in digital approaches to education will continue to enhance the effectiveness, accessibility and sustainability of our teacher training and also create opportunities for closer integration of the curriculum with geographically dispersed partners.
Dr Andy Hind, Prof. Des Hewitt, Prof. Kate Ireland | January 2022