A group of councils has questioned whether current teacher training courses comply with General Teaching Council’s guidelines because they do not include modern languages as compulsory.
Under the Guidelines for Approving Initial Teacher Education, set out by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), new teachers must be able to deliver the full curriculum. With modern languages set to form a core part of the primary curriculum under Curriculum for Excellence, the East of Scotland European Consortium has claimed that many primary teaching courses offered by Scottish universities will be in breach of these guidelines.
Following a decline in the provision of modern languages in Scottish primary schools, the group of 13 councils is calling for languages to be made a mandatory part of all initial teacher training programmes. It has now written to the Scottish Government seeking clarity over course accreditation.
Jonathan Robertson of the East of Scotland European Consortium said: “We’ve been seeking confirmation from the Government regarding this issue because it would seem that if you’re going to make a subject a core part of the primary curriculum, you should first put in place the appropriate measures via teacher training.
“It seems the curriculum has perhaps got ahead of itself by making modern languages a core part when there’s no form of compulsory or adequate training to deliver modern languages in primary school via initial teacher education.” Labour schools spokesperson Ken Macintosh MSP agrees teacher training must reflect the changes in the curriculum.
“It’s difficult to see how modern languages cannot be a core and compulsory part of primary teacher training when it already is a core and compulsory part of the curriculum,” he said.
“There certainly is an issue there. I think the European consortium is right to pursue this as vigorously as possible.” Tony Finn, Chief Executive of the GTCS maintained that there was no formal requirement for primary teachers to have a proficiency in languages, however.
“When we accredit courses of initial teacher education, we do so against standards that have been laid down by the Scottish Government and at the moment, there is no formal requirement for primary teachers to have a competency in a language,” he said.
“Although we accept that there is a case for looking at these issues more fully, this is a complex problem for which there is no easy, short-term solution.” Graham Donaldson has confirmed to Holyrood that he is considering the issue of primary teacher training in modern languages as part of his ongoing Review of Teacher Education.