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Inside Teaching : April 2011
inside teaching | April 2011 PROFESSION 14 School-based practicum experience is highly valued by pre-service teachers, but in preparing quality teachers for this new century we need to ensure that the school-based or ‘clinical’ experience is purposefully interwoven with academic content and professional courses. As America’s National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Blue Ribbon Panel puts it in Transforming Teacher Education Through Clinical Practice, ‘It is time to fundamentally redesign preparation programs to support close coupling of practice, content, theory, and pedagogy.’ Partnership Partnership is a key to achieving such close coupling. Top of the Class, the 2007 report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Vocational Training on its inquiry into teacher education, recommended partnerships where stakeholders worked together and shared decisions and responsibility. In 2009, Tony Kruger, Anne Davies, Bill Eckersley, Frances Newell and Brenda Cherednichenko examined the development of such partnerships and noted that while some exciting university-school partnerships exist, systematic approaches are absent or at best passive. As Kruger and co. conclude, school systems and governments need to contribute actively to partnerships if they want them to succeed. In Tasmania, we’re building just such an active and systemic partnership between the University of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Department of Education (DoE): the Partnerships in Teaching Excellence (PiTE) program. This initiative builds on the strengths of both University of Tasmania staff and staff from the DoE in preparing teachers to work in low-socioeconomic status (SES) schools. Twenty PiTE scholarships were awarded in 2009, the program’s inaugural year; 25 in 2010; and 23 in 2011. Kruger and co. identify three benefits of an effective and sustainable partnership: • a focus on learning A key challenge in the education of pre-service teachers is getting the balance right between the academic course and school-based experience. Ruth Radford explains how a Tasmanian partnerships approach is doing just that. Theory and practice – and partnerships Balancing act