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Written Statement - Masters in Educational Practice

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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

In my Written Statement to the Assembly in February I stated that, in Wales, we need to raise standards of performance for all, so that all can reach their potential.  To realise this objective we need to produce highly skilled teachers who have a thorough knowledge of a range of strategies to improve outcomes; who understand the theories and concepts that underpin these strategies; and who, as a consequence, are able to deliver more effective teaching and learning in the classroom.

This cannot be achieved solely through Initial Teacher Training – teachers need to continue to deepen and broaden their skills and knowledge once in post. We need to embed a culture of lifelong learning, reflection and enquiry into the teaching profession.

The review of Professional Standards, Performance Management and Professional Development that was completed in 2010 revealed that the interpretation, quality and implementation of the arrangements for Induction and Early Professional Development (EPD) varied widely across Wales. It also showed that although many schools and Local Authorities ensured a high quality experience for their Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) and EPD teachers, there were others where the needs of beginner teachers were not identified or addressed sufficiently.

In my speech in June I stated that we were looking at a variety of options for introducing a Masters level element into the professional development framework that we are constructing for teachers.  I am now pleased to announce that, from September 2012, all NQTs will have the opportunity to follow a Masters programme as part of their Induction and EPD. 

Introducing a Masters at this point in a teacher’s career will help to address the inconsistency in the quality of Induction and EPD that teachers receive across the country. It will also provide a positive step towards reducing in-school and between-school variation in teacher quality and learner outcomes.

We have worked with Professor Alma Harris to design a highly practical three year programme which will gain accreditation based on activities and action research rather that a traditional taught, academic approach.  We have consulted with international experts on the programme design and there has been strong support from Michael Fullan Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, Andy Hargreaves Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, Dylan Wiliam Professor Emeritus of Educational Assessment, Institute of Education, Ben Levin (previously Deputy Minister of Ontario) and currently Professor of Education at the University of Toronto and Professor David Reynolds at the Southampton Education School, University of Southampton. 

The key elements of the Masters programme will be development modules built upon current evidence of effective practice drawn from Wales and throughout the world. These will be focussed on the three national priorities that I have set out  – literacy; numeracy and reducing the impact of poverty on attainment; as well as three additional core areas that have been identified as priorities for NQTs - additional learning needs, behaviour management and reflective practice.

We have shared the list of six core areas in discussion with Estyn, who agree that these are the right areas for teachers to focus on in developing their practice.

The Masters will be supported by a range of high quality online resources which will be hosted on a new website that the Welsh Government are currently developing for school based practitioners.  We will ensure that these resources are of the highest quality and based on the latest international research.  A quality assurance panel will be established to support the identification and selection of these resources.

The Masters qualification is, in fact, less important than the Masters-level experiences that the teachers will undergo throughout the programme.  These experiences will include working as a part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) focussing on the six core areas outlined above, and periods of coaching and mentoring from a dedicated Masters tutor.

The Masters qualification will not be made mandatory at this stage.  Detailed evaluation of the programme will be undertaken before any decisions are made on making the qualification compulsory.
Following the introduction of the Masters for Induction and EPD in September 2012, Masters qualifications will be developed for practitioners at different stages in their career, particularly for those aspiring to a leadership role.

The Masters will be designed and owned by the Welsh Government.  We are in the process of setting up a panel of experts to work with us to design the programme content and we will shortly be commencing a tendering exercise to appoint a body who will provide the accreditation for this exciting new programme.