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|Little voice: outgoing head spoke of a ‘gulf’ between schools and universities. |
Photo: Times Higher Education
The outgoing headmaster of one of the UK’s most prestigious private schools has lamented university teaching standards, suggesting that lecturers would benefit from spending time in the secondary classroom.
Tony Little, who steps down from Eton College this summer after 13 years, told Times Higher Education that there was a “gulf” between the experience of students in the final years of school and the first year of university “that should be bridged and we have failed to do it”.
“I have students coming back saying that, in some cases, the quality of teaching in the sixth form was better than anything at university,” Mr Little said. “It is not right.”
The gap in teaching standards between sixth forms – in both the state and independent sectors – and university was increasing, Mr Little suggested, because of the “huge emphasis” on pedagogy at school level in recent years.
Moves to make A-level exams “more accessible” by reducing the essay-based content had also widened the divide between secondary and higher education, Mr Little said, since this remained a primary method of assessment at university.
He acknowledged that some institutions, such as the University of Reading and Brunel University London, had already invested heavily in first-year teaching standards.
But he argued that there was a long way to go across the sector as a whole. “There is some outstanding stuff going on with the younger generation of teachers and I don’t see this replicated in any way at university level,” Mr Little said.
The intervention came after Jo Johnson, the universities minister, identified higher education teaching standards as his foremost priority. Plans for a teaching excellence framework will be announced later this year.
Mr Little, a graduate of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, suggested that giving teaching greater recognition would help to drive up standards. “The business of developing a career within a university is predicated on your ability to produce good research,” he said...
|An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education|
Mr Little was speaking ahead of the publication next week of his book, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education - Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (16 July 2015).
Source: Times Higher Education