Students on teacher training courses will be taught how to use technology to improve learning in the classroom and organise their working life in a bid to cut the high number of graduates leaving the profession.
Universities across the world have agreed to work with Microsoft to include digital skills in traditional teacher training. It is hoped that by giving future teachers the knowledge of how to use technology to organise lessons, improve learning and increase pupil engagement, they will be more creative as well as feel lower levels of stress and pressure, which cause so many newly-qualified education professionals to change careers.
According to the latest Department for Education figures, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified entrants who entered teaching rose from 44,900 in 2014 to 45,810 in 2015. However, the number leaving the profession climbed from 42,050 in 2014 to 43,070 (or 10% of FTE teachers) in 2015. Figures for 2016 will be released in June.
Microsoft’s Student Teacher Education Programme (STEP) will offer courses in communication and collaboration in a digital world, as well as how to code and use Windows, Skype, Office, OneNote and Outlook to ensure teachers can use tech in exciting ways that benefit their students.
STEP will be split into three sections totalling nearly 41 hours of learning – pedagogy, technology and professional productivity.
Upon graduating, teachers will also gain a Microsoft Certified Educator certificate to prove they are qualified to use technology in the classroom.
Ian Fordham, director of Education at Microsoft, said: “Through STEP we are excited to help educate new teachers to become more productive and raise the standard of learning for institutions and students across the UK, and globally. Microsoft is committed to empowering prospective teachers and educational institutions alike, to implement technology in a useful, evidence-based way.”
The Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University is Microsoft’s lead partner and will be the first to implement STEP, in the 2017/18 academic year. The school will offer advice on the learning content of STEP as well as create a “quick start guide” that other universities can use.
Dr Graham Parton, head of teacher education at Leeds Beckett, said: “I am very excited about our global partnership with Microsoft. Using STEP, we will equip future teachers with effective pedagogies for utilising technology in the curriculum. All our teaching students will become recognised by Microsoft and highly sought-after in the employment market because of their innovative use of technology.”
Ten other universities will adopt STEP in the forthcoming academic year, with a global roll-out expected the following year.
As well as retaining teachers already working in schools, it could also address a fall in the number of postgraduate students who are signing up for training. There were 27,229 new entrants to postgraduate Initial Teacher Training courses in the academic year 2016 to 2017, according to the Department for Education, down from 27,761 in 2015/16.
Those who enter the teaching workforce will have to deal with increasing class sizes, one of the biggest causes of stress and pressure due to larger workloads. In 2015, the pupil/teacher ratio in England was 17.4 (17.4 pupils for every one teacher), according to the Department for Education. The pupil/teacher ratio for all schools has increased by 0.3 percentage points from the 2014 level (17.1) and is higher than the previous three years, where it was static at 17.2 (in 2011, 2012 and 2013).
Fordham concluded: “Our partnership with Leeds Beckett is designed to equip new teachers with the skills they need to succeed – providing a framework and relevant content that universities can put into practice. We are excited by the potential this partnership has to empower new teachers to be more productive and create new and exciting learning architectures through technology, for the students of tomorrow.”