SWOT Diagnosis

Research capacity at the school, programme and institutional levels in Wales

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strengths
Some strong school-led research initiatives

There is an eagerness on the part of some schools to participate in research.

Focus on practice-based research

Practice-based research focus is consistent across multiple stakeholders.

Alignment of policies

Furlong, Donaldson and others have a clear and coherent message, which is reflected in policy.

Reform impetus

Welsh Government and its advisors are working hard – and in consultation with stakeholders to the extent possible – to reform ITE and establish research as one of its pillars through for example the accreditation criteria.

Willingness to change

Stakeholders across the board express a strong desire to improve current practice – and a willingness to change.

Importance of research

Many stakeholders are talking about the importance of research, especially practice-based / action research.

weaknesses
Need for a strategic research plan

Lack of discussion about a research strategy, plan and/or building a field-wide body of evidence about what works. The focus is on conducting many action research projects and not about how to conduct other types of research and/or build this into an accepted body of knowledge.

Need to build up research capacity in education faculties

Many staff in teacher education institutions do not have a lot of academic research skills – and very few mention other types of research, other than action research (as raised by the Furlong report)

Need to incorporate more subject-specific expertise into teacher training and research

Current programme seems focused on generic aspects of education, rather than pedagogical content knowledge / subject-specific expertise in teaching and training teachers.

Lack of access to research findings

Lack of access to the latest education research for teachers.

Integration of practice and theory

Programmes need to integrate theoretical and practical elements in the best way possible to prepare teacher with the skills they need

Lack of training for school-based mentors

This contributes to a lack of understanding of what candidates are learning in initial teacher education.

opportunities
Continue to draw on international expertise and partnerships

Utilise international expertise in subject-specific pedagogies and educational research e.g. partner high performing Welsh schools with international schools / experts who have already gone to the next level. Funding for joint international research partnerships could also build research skills capacity.

Prioritising funding for research that is unique to Wales

Work out what is missing from international research (e.g. bilingualism) and focus on funding the development of this research.

Capitalising on excellence in schools with regard to research

Some schools are using research in excellent ways  (e.g. Fern Federation)

School-university partnerships

Potential for deep partnerships between schools and universities to design and evaluate programmes together, share data / feedback, and scale partnerships across the system.

Developing a language around teacher professionalism

There is strong recognition of the importance of having a developmental continuum from ITE to induction and beyond.

Developing a research repository

Creating a place where teachers can access education research in an easy-to-read manner (e.g. AITSL research repository, Evidence for Learning toolkit) and train teachers / school leaders in how to use it would improve the quality of provision.

Collecting feedback from students

Surveying all NQTs on the quality of their initial teacher education will improve programme quality.

Increasing induction phase

Longer induction programmes for beginning teachers could serve to continue new teachers’ development and involvement in school-based research projects guided by international research and excellent practitioners.

threats
Teacher educator fatigue

There may be too much pressure on teacher educators to train teachers as well as conduct research (not considering time and workload constraints).

Reform fatigue due to so many fundamental changes

e.g. curriculum changes

Teacher shortages

It can result in  lowering entry and exit standards and thus lowering quality.

Lack of systemic coherence

Lack of coordinating body to take reform initiatives from proposal to implementation.

Competitiveness between universities

This can limit collaboration and sharing of expertise.

Thinly spread student enrolments

Spreading trainee teachers across too many teacher education institutions may be costly and unsustainable.

Heavy teacher workload

Trainee teachers need time to participate in research and candidate mentoring.