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Teaching qualification to be offered on Island 16 May 2008

THE Isle of Man College is to deliver a full Postgraduate Certificate of Education qualification for the first time.

From September 2008, 16 prospective primary school teachers will begin studying for their PGCE entirely on the Island.

At present, trainee teachers have to travel to the UK in order to gain the qualification, which effectively disqualifies many Manx residents who have commitments here.

The College learned it would be authorised to deliver the training last week after passing a rigorous evaluation conducted by the University of Chester. Evaluators praised the content of the course and those charged with delivering it.

College Principal Dr Ian Killip said the course had the potential to turn out ‘some of the best primary practitioners in the world’.

Dr Killip explained:

‘We wanted to give local people who couldn’t travel off-Island to study the opportunity to complete their teacher training courses here. Throughout the process we have had the active support of the Minister for Education, the Director of Education and the DoE’s advisory team.
‘We began talks with the University of Chester in 2007 and have, in consultation with its Faculty of Education and Children’s Services, drawn up a unique and innovative programme based on the PGCE offered at Chester but taught by local primary practitioners, using local schools and local resources and delivering a curriculum that is tailored to the Manx National Curriculum.’

Peter Lovekin, Programme Manager for Education and Staff Development, explained:

‘As part of this process we have prepared and amended policies and procedures and have devised a completely new set of standards for Manx Qualified Teacher Status (MQTS), based on the English Training and Development Agency’s (TDA) standards to ensure the quality of the award and that it will be recognised as equivalent to qualified teacher status from other jurisdictions.'

Education Adviser Howard Green, a former primary school headteacher, worked with the College to put together a team, drawn from the best primary practitioners in the Island, to deliver the academic content of the degree.

‘He has also developed a team of mentors in primary schools, again identifying beacons of best practice, to ensure that our trainees are trained in school by some of the best practitioners in the Island,’ said Mr Lovekin.

The validation event, held on 8th May, involved teams from the University of Chester, the College and schools in a rigorous examination of the programme.

Mr Lovekin said:

‘The validation panel was impressed with the teaching team, whose enthusiasm and commitment for the programme shone through. The panel was fascinated at the opportunity we had to design and deliver our curriculum. It said that we had an extremely exciting opportunity to deliver a programme of the highest quality in the Island and suggested that we should publish details of the process to inform practice in England.
‘We have already recruited the first group of 16 students, from more than 120 high-quality applicants, who will begin their training this year. They were all interviewed and, as well as an extensive set of entry requirements, the panel was looking for people with energy, drive, commitment and a passion for working with young people.
‘Many will be giving up full-time jobs to join the programme and all had made the effort to gain experience as a volunteer in a primary school,’ said Mr Lovekin. 'They will study full-time, with 16 weeks in College working on the academic requirements of the programme and 18 weeks in local schools, developing their teaching skills.'

Dr Killip said:

‘With the commitment and expertise of the teaching team and the very high quality of the students, we fully expect to produce some of the best primary practitioners in the world, not just in the Isle of Man.’

Education Minister Anne Craine MHK said:

‘This is a very exciting step. We now have the ability to “grow our own” teachers and give opportunities to those who, for various reasons, cannot commit to study off the Island. ‘I was very encouraged by the number of people who applied for the course. Clearly there is a real enthusiasm for this provision.
'There has been a great deal of work done by those people who have prepared the course for its validation and I congratulate them on this success. I now look forward to seeing how it develops and, ultimately, getting more local teachers into our classrooms, which will, in turn, relieve pressure on our recruitment process.’

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