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| |Introduction: Overview |

Teaching is a complex activity, in fact it is one of the most complex occupations (Rowan 1994). There are many reasons for this. For example teachers have responsibility for diverse groups of students with varied and complex needs. Teachers are constantly making decisions: planning decisions, decisions during teaching, and decisions after teaching. An effective and informed teacher makes these decisions on the basis of a deep understanding of both their subject matter and education theory. Certainly skills are also essential and all teachers, however experienced, need to constantly up date their skills.

The Professional Teacher
Defining what it means to be professional is problematic. However one characteristic of gaining professional status is the requirement of a period of specialised training. For teachers in the Lifelong Learning Sector (LLS), the requirement to undergo any form of training has a troubled history. Less than ten years ago, Hall & Marsh noted the following:

“There is much evidence that the role and status of teachers in society has diminished over the years, and the move to employ minimally trained assessors and instructors in colleges, and to delegate the employment of part-timers to commercial agencies, makes it necessary to re-assert a belief in the proper designation of teaching as a professional activity” Hall & Marsh (2000:1)

Since this was written there has been major reform of teacher training in the LLS in England. In Equipping our teachers for the future (DfES 2004) the then Department for Education and Skills outlined proposals for the reform of initial teacher education in LLS. As most of you will know, with effect from September 2007 there is a requirement for all untrained teachers in the sector to undertake a new teaching qualification devised by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK). These...