The “New” Teacher Education Environment in England: Opportunities, Challenges and Implications

Schools and university partnerships and school-based only frameworks characterize the present teacher education and training environment in England. This new tapestry presents opportunities and challenges for those pursuing training in teaching and has implications for University Teacher Education Professional Tutors saddled with the task of guiding participants.

Opportunities for participants

There are a number of opportunities afforded to participants in this new teacher education and training environment. For example, they can work towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (Qualified Teacher Status) and a Master’s degree and study teaching in their preferred specialization (Secondary) or at a preferred level (Early Year Studies, Primary or Secondary). This new environment also affords participants the opportunity to: contribute to the ‘move’ to improve the education of young people from less privileged background; engage in research in education, more specific urban education; participate in university training which develops skills and knowledge in key teaching components for example curriculum development, education theory and practice and classroom management; spend time in school taking on real responsibilities from ‘day one’; attend summer sessions which enables the building of a network of like-minded people; develop skills of reflection-on-practice, portfolio development and reflective journaling techniques; develop transferable skills thus facilitating transitions from teaching to other careers; develop academic writing skills via assignments at PGCE and Master’s level and being paid during training along with the potential for additional financial support to off-set cost for travel to specific training sessions.

Challenges for participants

Given the new teacher education and training environment challenges for participants may include (but not limited to): demotivated students in regular schools and the need to raise their aspiration; students’ disruptive behaviours and addressing these; balancing various demands: administrative and other responsibilities (lunch and yard duty, meetings, detention and monitoring students during or after school, special parent meeting and reporting evenings); completing university and partners’ requirements; researching and writing at PGCE and Master’s level; interpersonal relational issues (mentor/trainees relationship) and deciding whether to address students’ non-learning needs.

Given these opportunities and challenges, ‘What are the implications for the University teacher education professional tutor saddled with the task of seeing the participants through to a successful completion?’

At the philosophical level, the university teacher education professional tutor needs to be clear about the mission, goals and policies of the programme and partnership existing between the university and schools allowing these to guide thoughts and actions.

At the ‘grass root’ level, the tutor should have current experience working in challenging learning environments to fully empathize with participants placed in such situations. It would be a ‘bonus’ if she or he had the experience of being, or working with the ‘student type’ represented in such challenging schools and is able to bring an ‘insiders’ perspective to bear on advice given to participants under her or his care. Being armed with experience and knowledge in reflective practice to effectively aid participants in this now integral area of teachers’ professional development and supporting researching in education and academic writing at master’s level and above is also critical.

The tutor should be familiar with appropriate strategies for addressing school students’ disruptive behaviours thus becoming an additional source of information for participants and how to motivate school students who have become demotivated.

The tutor is also required to give advice to participants on balancing various demands for example: prioritising workload; keeping a diary and saying ‘No’ to some school committee or steering group; give guidance on the issue of addressing students’ non learning-needs and use skills required to mediate between participants and school-based mentor when there has been a break down in professional relations.

Student Group Travel To Boston: Performance Trips That Are Educational!

If you are looking for a great performance destination with a historical twist, then Boston is an ideal choice for your student group trip. Bands, choruses, orchestras and dance ensembles have fantastic performance options from which to choose, where audiences are in abundance. Plus, your students will gain a real and vivid life education of the history of America and where it began. Known to many as the birthplace of the United States, Boston is one of America’s oldest cities steeped in history beginning with the Puritans who, in 1630, founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. Known as the “Walking City,” student groups will have fun learning about American history in Boston. This vibrant, thriving city is renowned for its world-class museums, historical sites, monuments, educational institutions, delicious food, signature shopping, fantastic entertainment and professional sports. Boston not only retells the powerful stories of our nation’s past, but is willing to accommodate and entertain student groups as few other cities can. Student group travel to Boston is educational, both musically and historically!

Performance Opportunities in Boston

Three of the most popular performance sites in Boston include the Boston Conservatory, Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market and Six Flags® New England.

The Boston Conservatory, the oldest performing arts conservatory in the nation, offers student performance groups an award-winning theater that is newly renovated. The Conservatory just recently completed a $32 million, 16-month-long renovation and expansion project that effectively adds 16,000 new square feet of rehearsal and performance space to the building, as well as a completely renovated, state-of-the-art 300-seat theater with new orchestra pit, air conditioning and a host of technical upgrades and accoutrements. Conductors are constantly raving about the incredible acoustics within this theater.

At Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, there are numerous locations for your school band, orchestra, choir or dance ensemble to perform in the most historic location in Boston. Your ensemble can perform outdoors where thousands of people shop and dine each day, giving you a large audience. Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market is one of the most visited historical attractions in Boston.

Just an hour and a half outside of Boston is Six Flags® New England. Like all Six Flags®, this theme park is exciting and has some of the fastest, tallest, wildest, gut-wrenching rides in the country including rollercoasters like Batman – The Dark Night, Bizarro, voted the #2 steel rollercoaster in the country, and the Cyclone, one of the largest wooden rollercoasters in the U.S. New to Six Flags® New England this year is Goliath, a heart-pounding roller coaster. With over 40 exciting amusement rides, an exhilarating water park and fantastic entertainment, Six Flags® New England will surely provide thrills and exciting times your student group will always remember. Six Flags® New England provides marching bands, concert bands, jazz bands, choirs, orchestras and dance ensembles an opportunity to perform in front of thousands of spectators at various sites throughout the park as well.

Historical Sites in Boston

The historical aspects of Boston are fascinating. Boston is both an indoor and outdoor museum of history and architecture. As part of your itinerary, you and your student group should include the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is 2.5 mile walking tour through Boston that takes groups around 16 significant historical sites including:

U.S.S. Constitution
Bunker Hill Monument
Copp’s Hill Burial Ground
Old North Church
Paul Revere House
Faneuil Hall
Boston Massacre Site
Old State House
Old South Meeting House
Former Site of the Old Corner Bookstore
First Public School Site and Ben Franklin Statue
King’s Chapel and Burying Ground
Granary Burying Ground
Park Street Church
Massachusetts State House
Boston Commons

Guided tours are available for student groups. However, the Freedom Trail is well-marked and can be self-guided. To obtain guides for your group, The Freedom Trail Foundation offers maps and other resources for educators at

Opening Soon: Scheduled to open June 25 in Boston is the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Most of the museum will be located on a barge anchored next to the museum pier on the Fort Point Channel. In addition to state-of-the-art technology, the museum will have actors dressed in period clothing and the original Robinson Tea Chest that was thrown into the Boston Harbor on Dec. 16, 1773. Students will have the opportunity to throw a tea chest over the sides of the Beaver, Eleanor and Dartmouth, replicas of the original ships involved in the Boston Tea Party.

Other Historical Sites in the Boston Area

Don’t forget to include historical sites around Boston including Lexington and Concord, where the great patriot Paul Revere is best remembered for his ride through the countryside warning the Minute Men that “The British are Coming!” Lexington and Concord are also known as the first sites of battle in the American Revolution as well as the site of the Old North Bridge where the American militia defeated the British soon after the “shot heard ’round the world” was fired.

Just north of Boston is Salem, a town known for the Salem Witch Trials, one of the darkest episodes in American History. Salem is a fascinating town that features The Salem Witch Museum which takes students back to Salem in 1692. The museum offers a dramatic history of the Witch Trials and witchcraft, bringing the past into a present day perspective. In addition to the museum, a tour of the House of the Seven Gables, complete with a hidden staircase and history of Nathaniel Hawthorn, will inspire students’ imaginations.

Lastly, a trip to Boston wouldn’t be complete without a short jaunt south along the coast to Plymouth. Here students can view Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620, experience the Mayflower II, and visit the living outdoor history museum, Plimoth Plantation. Known as the site of the first colony, Plimoth plantation recreates life in a Wampanoag Indian village and a 1627 English settlement and how they co-habitated. Students will gain a fantastic education of Native American and Colonial history.

Overall, Boston provides performance groups with fantastic performance options and a historical education about the American Revolution. In addition and not even mentioned in this article are other fantastic attractions like the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science and whale watching excursions. Unlike any other city, Boston provides student groups with unlimited attractions, museums, historical sites, monuments and performance sites. As one can see, Boston has it all!

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum, One of the Great New England Museums

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, in Mashantucket, Connecticut, is without doubt the world’s largest and most comprehensive Native American museum and research center in existence today, and most certainly one of the great New England museums, if not one of the greatest in the entire nation.

In an independent survey, nine out of ten visitors rated the museum, “Better than the best museum they had visited in the past 5 years.”

Of it,” several highly reputable media outlets say: “[It] sets a new standard for user-operated media” – The Boston Globe; “An immediate hit with families” – New York Magazine; and, “Magnificent, [it] brings the Native American story vividly to life” – Connecticut Magazine.

This museum has collected, cataloged and meticulously chronicled a bygone culture, giving new life to a Pequot tribe that struggled hard against extinction.

In fact, it offers more resources and learning opportunities vis-a-vis Native Americans than does even the Smithsonian.

It and its Website provide a mother lode of information, not just about the Pequot Tribe, but all Native American cultures as is evidenced by the following:

“Our ancestors can no longer speak for themselves. It is up to us to speak for them. If they could speak today, they would say, ‘Look at this museum. They have not forgotten us. We have survived,'” says Wilma Mankiller, former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

In all, there are four full acres of permanent, extravagantly detailed exhibits and two libraries, one for children, which offer a remarkable selection of materials detailing the histories of all Native peoples in both the U.S. and Canada.

There are also in-depth descriptions of how all of the Native nations and tribes interpret everything from daily living to creation, which offer fascinating insights into how their cultures evolved.

Many of the exhibits are life-size dioramas that provide robust and fascinating representations of how the Pequots lived over time and under very difficult and challenging conditions, especially when ice covered much of the continent.

They amply demonstrate the extraordinary adaptive genius of a people whose knowledge and wits not only helped them survive adversity but thrive through it.

In addition, natural history is engagingly traced over thousands of years to provide a holistic understanding of the Native American experience.

There are also ample opportunities for learning through interactive experiences, including your family’s participation in local archeological digs or making bags from buckskin, among many others.

As far as educational excellence goes, if museums were universities, The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center would be Harvard, Yale and Stanford combined.

The museum generously documents every detail of the origins, fall and rise of the Pequots, who have, since the 1960s, reclaimed some of their land on which they have cleverly built Foxwoods Casino and Resort, a success story worthy of the utmost admiration.

In fact, Foxwoods has awakened surrounding communities, sleepy shoreline towns mostly, by providing invigorated economies that never existed before and single-handedly revived flagging tourism in Southeastern Connecticut.

A visit to what one newspaper called the “most ambitious new museum in America” is both educational and fun, and a must for anyone interested in the true history of this country, as well as one of the truly great New England museums.

Due to the sheer volume of information and number of activities available at this remarkable institution, I would recommend a visit to the museum’s Website to plan out your outing before you go.