What have we learnt from the role of the MTL (Masters in Teaching and Learning) programme in–school coach for schools and the Higher Education staff working alongside them?
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The MTL is a practice-based professional master’s qualification, aimed to attract newly qualified teachers (NQTs) to National Challenge schools in order to help improve outcomes (TDA 2008). The MTL programme was also developed as a continuation of a teacher’s PGCE and subsequent induction year. A key element of the MTL is the tripartite relationship of HEI tutor, school based coach and MTL student with funding weighted towards schools (60%) and the HEI (40%). The role of the HEI was meant to be Quality Assurance and assessment with the in school coach doing most of the programme delivery. The project reported here is based on interviews with in-school MTL coaches to explore firstly how their role had developed within the MTL. Coaches are typically without a formal Masters qualification themselves so a second aim of this study was to examine the consequences of this in and on practice. Finally, we explored the effect on all involved as flaws in the model emerged. Formal case study interviews were conducted in July 2011. These are the main empirical research data upon which this study is based although they are supplemented by data from additional interviews undertaken for this HEI’s regional group’s evaluation and other supporting data via other MTL programmes. We aimed to generate grounded theory, "theory that is grounded in the evidence that it turns up” (Gillham, 2000 p 12). To be effective case study researchers, we aimed to keep an open mind, to continue looking for data and defer analysis until the most appropriate time as agreed by all concerned (Gillham, 2000 p13). Where the MTL enjoyed a level of success, we suggest that this was primarily because of the attitude of the coach in school and HEI staff working alongside them. The lack of a master’s level qualification amongst coaches had some negative impact but the most significant issue we contest is that to create true working partnerships with school, the HEI have to be able to employ school based colleagues in the assessment procedures.
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