Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers
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The Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) is a registered charity that speaks on behalf of 95 centres of teacher education based in universities or university sector colleges of higher education across the United Kingdom. These institutions, working closely with partner schools where a significant part of each programme takes place, are responsible for some 75 per cent of new entrants to teaching in schools and further education colleges.
UCET was formally established in 1967 when the substantial expansion of university-based teacher education pointed to the need for a forum of discussion for matters relating to the education of teachers. 37 universities collaborated in establishing that national forum and jointly financed a small permanent secretariat with central office facilities. In 1993, following the establishment of the former polytechnics as independent universities, a further 24 institutions became members of UCET. In 1998 membership was further increased by the incorporation of 19 university sector colleges of higher education. Today most institutions of higher education involved in teacher education in the United Kingdom are members.
Aims and mission
The original mission of UCET is to represent the UK’s higher education-based professional educators in providing research-informed and formally accredited education, training and development opportunities. UCET aims to facilitate communication and cooperation between member institutions, to enhance the quality and impact of education through the application and development of research, and to articulate the role of education as an interdisciplinary field of study that adds to the creation and communication of knowledge within the higher education community.
These general aims are pursued through a number of strategic objectives, which are covered by four areas. The first of these is to provide services for members by acting as a unified voice for UCET members. The second area concerns influencing policy and practice. The third area is safeguarding and raising the quality of standards, and the fourth is concerned with maintaining organisational efficiency and effectiveness.
Mode of operation
UCET operates through a series of standing committees, each of which includes representation from all member institutions. These cover different phases and fields of education:
- Primary and Early Years;
- Continuing Professional Development;
- Research and Development;
- International Education.
Special arrangements are made to ensure that developments in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland receive appropriate and special consideration. In addition, a Management Forum permits those with managerial responsibilities to consider financial and other resource aspects of teacher education. Finally, an Executive Committee exercises overall responsibility for the effective running of the organization. Typically, each of these committees meets three times each year to consider matters relating to their sphere of concern and to discuss key developments in their field.
Range of activities
In addition to maintaining a network of institutions and supporting the work of its standing committees, UCET undertakes a range of other tasks. It seeks to maintain good relationships with the wide range of official bodies that impinge on teacher education: the Training and Development Agency for Schools OFSTED, the General Teaching Councils, Lifelong Learning UK, Universities UK, the British Educational Research Association, the government departments responsible for teacher education and education in the four countries of the UK, and the higher education funding bodies. In addition, UCET organizes a major annual conference for its members, attracting in excess of 300 delegates to hear keynote addresses by leading figures in education as well as to participate in seminars at which members report on their research activities.
In collaboration with HM Inspectorates in the four countries, UCET organizes a biennial symposium on a topical theme such as partnership in teacher education or closing the achievement gap, with the aim of sharing perspectives on issues that have proved problematic across all four educational jurisdictions in the UK. It also arranges seminars and conferences on specific issues such as the teaching of reading, or the implications of the Rose and Cambridge Reviews of primary education for the education of teachers. Acknowledging that significant developments are taking place internationally in teacher education, UCET maintains close contact with its sister organization in the United States, the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education, with the International Council for Teacher Education, and with several European teacher education associations. Finally, UCET publishes an occasional series of scholarly papers on teacher education.
UCET’s central belief is that universities have a distinctive contribution to make to the initial professional preparation of teachers and to their continuing professional development. They maintain that strong programmes flourish best in that culture of critical enquiry and research that a university environment sustains.
Despite the success of teacher education, there is always room for improvement if the teaching profession is to prepare young people for the challenges of the 21st century. There is a growing recognition that initial teacher education can only achieve so much. It is believed that more attention needs to be given to fully funded structured early professional development for teachers that supports and builds on their initial training.
UCET, and its member institutions, will work collaboratively with government agencies, professional and regulatory authorities, subject associations and other partners to ensure that what is working well works even better, and that issues that need to be addressed are tackled in a professional, collective and collegiate way.
- "UCET 2009 Annual Conference". Ttrb.ac.uk. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2010-05-30.