Many schools throughout the UK are experiencing challenging behaviour from pupils and high levels of absence and exclusion as they seek to implement initiatives aimed at raising pupil attainment [National Audit Office (2005). Improving school attendance, London: The Stationery Office]. These initiatives often presuppose that pupils will receive adequate levels of guidance and support to help them make curricular, personal, social, and health decisions. However, little is heard from teachers and students undertaking initial teacher education courses on how they have been prepared for this extended role of supporting increasing diverse student populations; nor do we know how they define guidance/pupil support and integrate this with their concept of the professional role of a teacher.
This article presents evidence from a one-year study of pupil support in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Executive Education Department. The study provided evidence for The National Review of Guidance Provision in Scotland [Scottish Executive (2003). The national review of guidance. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive; Scottish Executive (2005). Happy, safe and achieving their potential. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive]. The study explored the views of all 32 local authorities in Scotland, a sample of students in training in two universities and teachers, headteachers and pupils in eight case study schools, and also a sample of their parents.
This article focuses specifically on the findings relating to teachers and students in training. It identifies the ways in which they support pupils and how well they think they have been prepared for that task. Two dominant models of pupil support emerge from these data: an embedded and a specialist approach, and these vary according to school and education sector. Primary school teachers were more likely to embed pupil support into their concept of being teachers, whereas secondary teachers perceived it to be a separate, specialist function, which many were reluctant to undertake. Some implications for teacher education are highlighted.