Professional discourse, quality assurance and a practice integrated pre-service teacher education course: The Open University PGCE.
In: World Association of Co-operative Education Quality Assurance Conference, 13-15 Nov 2007, Charleston, CA.
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The Open University (UK) Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme is a distance learning pre-service course in teacher education which integrates learning in the practice setting with university-based learning. This programme, which has flexible start and finish points and either training or assessment only routes, uses a web-based Needs Analysis process to reflect on prior experience and to determine individualized university and practice-based curriculum and assessment and is set in the context of an external regulatory framework which demands that teacher education courses in England fulfil certain national requirements and that student-teachers meet identified standards or competences. These requirements and standards are inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) and the outcomes of inspection lead to a 'Quality Grade' which determines government funding.
This PGCE course, therefore, presents a radically flexible, practice integrated programme which faces both internal, University based quality assurance processes and procedures and 'high stakes' external inspection. This paper reflects on the tensions between quality compliance and quality assurance in practice integrated learning and suggests that quality assurance processes which open up a discourse of personal and professional development and which might support the exploration of dissonance between and within practices can improve, rather than merely maintain, programme quality.
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