Introducing the IOE Teacher Education College
"It will be a place where research, education and practice intersect under one umbrella – giving us ever-greater reach and expertise across all areas," writes Professor Clare Brooks.
17 November 2021
What makes a good teacher? At the IOE Teacher Education College, we recognise that it’s not just about being able to teach. A good teacher must also understand how the world, society and students’ needs are changing – and have the toolkit to deal with those changes. They need to be independent-minded professionals, able to question and challenge. They must be adaptive, not just to their situation but also to the new knowledge that's available to them.
Our world-class global research, outstanding teacher education and school partnerships have always informed each other. But now we have brought them together in the new IOE Teacher Education College. It will be a place where research, education and practice intersect under one umbrella – giving us ever-greater reach and expertise across all areas.
In the rapidly changing world of education, one thing is for certain: what we know today will be challenged by research tomorrow. And that’s a good thing. We should not be training teachers the same way we were 40 years ago. High-quality teacher education should be continually evolving.
Which is why much of that dynamism in our teacher education is driven by research. It’s research that teaches us about how the world of schools is changing, about how people learn and new ways to teach them more effectively. It alerts us to shifts in society and it allows us to adapt our teacher education to accommodate those shifts.
For example, recent research at the IOE examined the contribution of teaching and learning assistants. Its new insights will influence not just the assistants themselves, but also the ways in which schools and teachers can work with them to maximise their impact in the classroom.
This adaptive and open approach means that we’re not bound to any dogma or any one particular school of thought. Teachers need to be able to respond to the curveballs thrown at us – not just by research, but also by life.
In 2020, for example, we all had to adapt to remote learning very quickly. But the interesting aspect of remote learning is that the principles of learning haven’t changed – just the context of that learning. Our teachers know that what works today might not work tomorrow. They are independent professionals who have the confidence and knowledge to call upon a range of approaches and a repertoire of different techniques when faced with an unexpected situation. In education, that can be every day.
We encourage our professionals to ask challenging questions too. ‘Is this situation really as we thought it was? Is there a different way of viewing it?’ Issues like decolonisation, for example, are important not just to challenge the accepted understandings that we have of the world, but also to understand that research will tell us new things.
Those principles of being independent and free-thinking also hold when working with our many partners who make an incredible contribution to what we do. Ours are partnerships of equivalence: we all learn from each other. We’re proud to work with between 500 and 700 schools across London, from a huge variety of communities, from small schools independent of local authorities to massive MATs. Our research partners include a huge range of different organisations around the globe: government organisations, charities and NGOs.
I’ve worked at the IOE for 22 years, and I was a student here before that. Even so, I am still learning things about the Institute that I never knew. It’s such an exciting and vibrant place to be. I hope that the IOE Teacher Education College helps our friends, partners and colleagues to look at us afresh and understand how we’re bringing together our partners, our research, our practice and our programmes in an exciting and unique way.