The Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994) highlighted that every child was entitled to an education and stressed the importance of inclusion internationally. The Warnock Report (1978) outlined the importance of addressing special education needs (SEN) and working towards a more inclusive education approach. Furthermore, the Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice: 0 – 25 (2015) in the United Kingdom (UK), highlights the importance of every teacher being a teacher of SEND, this sentiment was echoed by the Carter Review (2015) which stressed the importance of teacher trainees being fully prepared to support learners’ needs, and in particular learners with SEND. On both a national and international platform from the 70s to the C21st, it is clear that learners have a right to access education, and they have the right to engage in an inclusive way in their education. This means that teachers need to be equipped to support them on their journey.
However, reviews such as the Carter Review (2015) in the UK, highlighted that teacher trainees feel that they can still be better supported and developed during their teacher training year. This view was echoed by the NQT Survey (2016.17), where NQTs reflected on their teacher training (ITTs) experiences, and how prepared they were for their first teaching role. SEND was highlighted as an area where ITTs needed more development and support. When responding to the Carter Review (2015) via the Munday Group, key questions arose during the development of [the] Framework for Core Content (2016) such as:
These questions came as no surprise, as researchers such as Menter, Hulme, Elliot and Lewin (2010) state that teacher educators, and their development are generally an area where limited research is done. In addition, limited development work is done in terms of offering additional skills training to extend teacher educators’ skills sets further. The National Association of Teacher Educators (NASBTT), developed a SEND Toolkit (2017) with the aim to address some of these core need. It also devotes itself to development mentor skills to ensure that mentors can extend their knowledge further, to ensure that future ITTs, are able to access the required information they need to ensure that they make a flying start to the profession. The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) led on a similar initiative in 2017. The two conferences were a welcome addition to development opportunities on offer for teacher educators; however, a more consistent approach to Teacher Educator continued professional development (CPD) is required in relation to the latest changes and developments at all levels to ensure that educators can provide the most up to date support possible, to develop future teachers even more effectively. However, the question is who is best placed to deliver such CPD, and share updates on requirements and initiatives? Does it need to sit with National Associations, Departments for Education, or does it sit with the institution leading on various programmes for Teacher Education? Who might hold such expertise?
These are all challenging questions, the issue is - if it sits with different institutions, how consistent will the message be? How reliable will the delivery be, and who will be favoured to deliver such training? What might the cost and funding requirements be? Might Special Education Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) in school be able to lead on development needs for teacher educators, or might their skills be too specific for their own contexts whereas a teacher educator will need a broader skill set as they develop future teachers across contexts, across a wider demographic and geographical area. Might it be a sensible consideration for Teacher Educators to devise their own CPD provision, and share best practice, delivering outstanding skills development, tapping into the experience and skills of those at the forefront of policy development and practice?
These are all important challenges to consider, but one thing is undeniably true:
Teacher Educators in the UK are expected to help teacher trainees develop their initial skill set needed to meet all the requirements of Teachers’ Standard 5 (DfE, 2011), or in other countries across the world, new teachers are required to provide an inclusive education, and meet the needs of their learners.
Carter, A (2015) Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT), UK: DfE. (Accessed: 28.10.2018)
DfE (2011) Teachers’ Standards, UK: DfE. (Accessed: 28.10.2018)
DfE (2015) SEND Code of Practice, UK: DfE. (Accessed: 28.10.2018)
DfE (2016) A Framework for Core Content, UK: DfE. (Accessed: 28.10.2018)
DfE (2016) NQT Survey, London: DfE. (Accessed: 28.10.2018)
Menter, I. Hulme, M, Elliott, D. And Lewin, J. (2010) Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century. Edinburgh: Education Analytical Services, Schools Research, Scottish Government.
NASBTT (2017) SEND Toolkit. (Accessed: 28.10.2018), Accessible at: https://www.nasbtt.org.uk/send-toolkit/
UCET (2017) SEND Conference (Accessed: 28.10.2018), Accessible: https://www.ucet.ac.uk/
UNESCO. 1994. The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, UNESCO.
Warnock, H,M. 1978. Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People. London. HMSO.