Dr Mark Larrad, Senior Lecturer School of Teacher Development, recently made a lecture visit to the Faculty of Education at the University of Granada in Andalusia, the third time he has made this visit in recent years.
The University of Granada is one of the oldest universities in Spain, and with over 300 teaching staff and nearly 2000 students, the Education Faculty is more than three times the size of Bishop Grosseteste University. Andalusia is one of 17 autonomous regions within Spain in all off which teacher training is controlled by the regional government rather than from the Spanish capital, Madrid.
The purpose of his visit was two-fold: to give a lecture to final-year primary education teaching students about the differences (and similarities) between methods of teacher training between Andalusia and England and to meet with the Dean of Education to discuss possible future partnership.
In his lecture Mark focussed on the eRPD and the way national standards (such as those for QTS) are used as a measure of progress. Whilst there are many other differences, the biggest similarity is that in Andalusia, Spain and England the most important responsibility of any teacher is to ensure each child can succeed.
Another one of the big differences between English and Andalusian systems is that in Andalusia (as in Spain as a whole) all teachers in the state sector are civil servants, and as such, the majority stay in post for around 30 years (the point at which they are eligible for a generous state pension).
Dr Mark Larrad, said: “In Spain nearly all teachers in state sector remain until their 50s (unlike in England which has a 20% attrition rate within the first five years after qualifying).
“However, I found the most striking difference to be in the differing approach to what constitutes readiness to teach. In Andalusia, like other regions, each student’s chances of securing a job depend not on success in placement but on getting a high mark in the exam (called an oposición) all civil servants have to take before qualifying.
“But a possible downside compared to the relative freedom English trainees with QTS have to choose where they work, is that Spanish trainees are effectively posted to schools where teachers are needed, and this might be a long journey from home.
“Trainees might be moved several times in their career, but generally those with children are usually prioritized for schools near where they live and older teachers will not be moved around for this reason as much.
“Exploring this fundamental difference led to an enthusiastic debate about which system the Spanish trainees would prefer: one where a job is guaranteed but with no freedom to choose your school, or the other way around!”
In his discussion with the Dean, Javier Viloria Prieto, both expressed the hope that future years may bring opportunities for our institutions to work together. Dr Larrad believes that in the current climate where UK finds itself increasingly isolated from its former European neighbours, it has never been more important for English universities to nurture and develop links.