This study examines practices in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) provision in Wales in preparing trainee teachers to meet the needs of English as Additional Language and Welsh as an Additional Language (EAL/WAL) learners, with specific reference to QTS Standards S1.1 and S3.1.3, which refer to diversity, and especially to S3.2.5 and S3.3.5, which refer directly to EAL/WAL.
The study identifies challenges encountered and improvements needed to ensure that trainee teachers in Wales are adequately prepared by their training to meet the needs of EAL/WAL learners.
The research was carried out through:
- an e-survey questionnaire of trainee teachers at the end of their courses in June 2014
- structured interviews with university tutors in each of the ITT course provider institutions
- structured interviews with mentors in a selection of ITT placement schools.
The study found considerable variation in the experiences of trainees and in the provision offered by Higher Education Institution (HEI) providers and placement schools. There are examples of good practice and quite detailed coverage but there are also significant areas of weakness and instances of poor or non-existent coverage. The evaluation of evidence for assessment of the diversity and EAL/WAL standards is variable and would benefit from being more robust.
Several challenges were identified including the constraints of course programmes, the demands of government, university and school priorities, lack of staff knowledge and expertise and difficulties in finding and allocating placements in diverse schools for all trainees. Trainees’ lack of direct experience with EAL/WAL pupils, due to a lack of diversity in their placement school cohorts, is not always adequately compensated for through supplementary learning experiences.
An extensive list of improvements was suggested by project participants for Welsh Government, university ITT providers and placement schools.
Recommendations include developing training programmes, resources, a good practice model for ITT and a software app for allocating trainee placements.
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Identifying challenges and good practices in preparing trainee teachers in Wales to meet the needs of additional language learners.