Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education: Final Report

Aileen Kennedy, Mark Carver, Paul Adams

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education (MQuITE) was a six-year, Scottish Government-funded study which involved co-investigators from all 11 University providers of ITE along with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. The project sought to address two research questions: 1. How can quality in ITE be measured in a Scottish, context-appropriate way? 2. What does this measuring tell us about aspects of quality in different ITE routes in Scotland? The project began with literature review (Rauschenberger et al., 2017) which informed the development of a framework to guide the study (Kennedy et al., 2022). At the same time, the MQuITE team explored the concept of ITE 'quality' by: charting the quality mechanisms in existence in Scottish ITE; considering the challenges of identifying quality at both system and local levels; exploring the relationship between markers of quality and underpinning purposes of ITE; and considered the measurement of quality as a tool to prove or to improve, that is, as an accountability mechanism or as a means to enhance ITE. Empirical data collection included an annual survey of 2018 and 2019 initial teacher education (ITE) graduates for five years (2018 – 2022), together with surveys of school and university-based teacher educators and focus groups with school mentors and leaders and local authority probation managers. MQuITE is the largest ITE study in Scotland to date, representing the views of 946 early career teachers across 1414 individual survey responses. Graduates report no real areas of persistent weakness, and levels of confidence and self-efficacy remain fairly high and fairly stable over time. There is no sense of a crisis in ITE, and in the CfE areas of responsibility for all, confidence, while slightly higher in the primary sector, is high across both sectors. We identified no statistically significant difference in confidence or self-efficacy by sector or by programme route (undergraduate or PGDE). The range of different professional learning needs identified by graduates suggests a need for choice rather than a 'one size fits all' type approach in the induction year. Finally, when compared with TALIS data, graduates in Scotland report comparable levels of self-efficacy, and higher than OECD average positive orientations towards staying in teaching. There was a clear commitment to partnership working expressed by all stakeholders – during and beyond the ITE phase. However, for a national system that relies so heavily on mentoring and inschool support for professional learning, there is an obvious lack of systematic support, appropriate resourcing, clarity of role expectations and systematic support for school-based teacher educators. This lack of systemic resourcing and support is compounded by a school placement system which sees schools receiving students from many different courses and providers, thereby making the development of relationships, and sharing of understanding between schools and HEIs more challenging. The whole exercise of developing a contextually appropriate framework for measuring quality in Scotland has illuminated the fact that there is not a shared understanding of the purpose of ITE. The link between how one might measure quality, and how one identifies or describes what constitutes quality ITE, is of crucial importance. The MQuITE data points to the need for more explicit conversation in the system about what we see as the purpose and expected outcomes of ITE and what pedagogical decisions we would take in order to achieve these desired outcomes. Collaboration between the 11 university providers and GTC Scotland over the life of MQuITE has enabled a process of ongoing research and development, and individual universities found it particularly helpful to be able to interrogate their own data, and to compare that to the data as a whole. Comparison has also been made with international data, revealing that Scottish ITE is in a comparatively healthy position across the board. While much of the news is good, conclusions also point to a number of areas requiring consideration and action, including: greater personalisation and choice in early phase professional learning; a more coherent early phase experience spanning ITE and induction; strengthened partnership between key stakeholders; investment in mentoring; and a need to develop and articulate shared understanding of the purpose of ITE and the pedagogical decisions that inform programmes. Finally, while the system level health check reveals a positive picture, in order to enhance provision further there remains a need for ongoing empirical data drilling down more deeply into some of the aspects identified in this report.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
Commissioning bodyScottish Government
Number of pages170
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2023


  • initial teacher education (ITE)
  • quality
  • measurement


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