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International perspectives on quality in initial teacher education: an exploratory review of selected international documentation on statutory requirements and quality assurance

Who wants to know and why?

This review aims to inform both the policy and the research debates about the relationship between the organisation, management and framework for initial teacher education and its quality. It aims to inform the policy debate by providing an analytical, but accessible, international review of the evidence about, and approaches to, the impact of structures on quality. Further, it aims to support the development of practice by offering a systematic survey of international perspectives on the relationship between structures and quality.   

What was found?

Fifty-four documents were found, the majority of which were written by, or for, national or regional government. Two-thirds of the documents dated from 2002 to 2006, and, of the 54, 49 were accounted for by the UK, USA and Australia. This review indicated the following:

  • There is widespread agreement that effective partnership between the provider and schools is central to the quality of initial teacher education.  In the UK, stringent operational requirements are in place for all ITE partnerships, but, in Australia and the US, there are very strong and pervasive forms of partnership for some schools and some providers; however, these are seen as innovative or aspirational, rather than mainstream. 
  • There is widespread agreement on the purposes of quality assurance (QA), but differences in the extent to which processes are prescribed. In the US, there is a strong expectation that providers have developed their own rationale, but in the UK there is an apparent indifference to rationale and methods, with an emphasis rather on clarity and rigour. 
  • Whereas in the US, influenced strongly by the NCATE guidelines, the provider’s own conceptual framework for the provision is seen as a core element of quality, in other countries, particularly the UK, the regulatory framework and official discourse is almost silent on the subject. 

How were these results obtained?

A systematic search of websites was undertaken relating to the accreditation or regulation of initial teacher education in a selection of countries. The documents retrieved were screened for relevance to the review question and for trustworthiness. An analytic account of the elements of these documents relevant to the review question was then produced under three themes.

What are the implications?

  • Symbiotic models of partnership between schools and ITE providers are widely advocated but demand appropriate funding.
  • Different international practices point to a wide range of data and perspectives, which might be exploited in the evaluation of provision.
  • Regulators might encourage coherence in provision of ITE by expecting quality-assurance procedures to be based on a rationale.

Where to find further information

The EPPI Centre’s reference number for this review is 1605. The full citation is:
Bills L, Briggs M, Browne A, Gillespie H, Gordon J, Husbands C, Phillips E, Still C, Swatton P (2008) International perspectives on quality in initial teacher education: an exploratory review of selected international documentation on statutory requirements and quality assurance. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

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