Four ‘Academic Sub-Tribes’, But One Territory? Teacher educators and Teacher Education in Scotland

From Section:
Teacher Educators
Aug. 01, 2011

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 3, August 2011, 293–308.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article has explored how cultural, social and institutional factors impact on the working lives and identities of teacher educators in Scotland.

The policy and professional contexts in which teacher education takes place in Scotland have been the subject of much change over many years.

The current provision of teacher education lies within seven university education departments, most of which resulted from mergers with former colleges of education.

This distinctive pattern gives rise to the existence within these departments of four distinctive groups of teacher educators.


Teacher educators in Scotland: Four 'sub-tribes'

 1. Former college staff (FCS)
Staff who were employed in the pre-merger colleges of education and have transferred into the university.
Usually they were seen as subject specialists with expertise in an area of the school curriculum.
Many of them would also have become involved in curriculum development activity in their particular area of interest, perhaps through government- or local authority-backed projects.

At the time of merger with a university, such staff had to consider whether they were in a position to develop their research career in order to become a fully rounded member of academic staff in a university.

2. Longstanding university staff (LUS)
Staff who were working in the university prior to merger and continue to do so.
Such staff tended to come from an education discipline background, were research active, and had experience of teaching on Master’s and doctoral programmes.

A number of LUS staff have now retired or moved to other institutions.
However, the longstanding university staff have often played a key role in mentoring, support and induction of the former college staff and newly appointed university staff.

3. Newly appointed university staff (NUS)
Staff appointed to the university since merger.

4. Temporary university staff (TUS)
These staff seconded into the university or employed on a casual basis.
Typically, such staff, often referred to as associate tutors, may be former college of education or university staff, some may also be working part-time as school teachers and some may be retired schoolteachers.



These four groups constitute the bulk of the academic staff populating the departments and schools of education in Scotland.
For each group, there is a range of factors that will have shaped their professional identity as well as a number of choices or decisions they have made that will also play a significant part.
A common feature among members of the four sub-tribes is the anxiety about the practical turn, the technicisation of teaching and teacher education and the impact of managerialism in universities.


The author concludes that although teacher education in Scotland is very much university led and operates from within the academy, the histories related above mean that the workforce of teacher educators is quite strongly fractured, including into the four major groupings adumbrated here.
For many individuals there are not only tensions between the academic and professional aspects of their identities, but also tensions because of the changing nature of the institutional worlds.

Updated: Nov. 11, 2021
Higher education | Professional identity | Teacher education | Teacher educators | Teaching as a profession